Cardinals chat with Joe Strauss

Submit your Cardinals questions and opinions NOW, and talk to Post-Dispatch baseball writer Joe Strauss starting at 1 p.m.

by Mike Smithon Aug 17, 2012 at 5:06 PM

  • All right, JSL!!! is officially under way, albeit fashionably late. Hopefully you used the extra time to warm up on Road Crew, Blues Chat or some of the other cover bands for the Big Wave. No time for surfin' tales right now. Rip tide warning. Experienced long boarders only. Boogy boarders, not your week. Let's ride.
  • JSL!!!! In a desperate attempt to have someone with any kind of speed on the roster, is Adron Chambers a definite callup and in that vein, is Oscar Tavares faster/ better base runner/ stealer than Adron, other five star skills set aside?
  • Adron should be among the call-ups. He offers the speed the club has missed since the trade of Tyler Greene. Adron has had a nice year under difficult circumstances at Memphis. He is still an unpolished talent but he did handle September well last season. Taveras is still considered raw. He is a dominant AA bat who must round other aspects of his game. He continues to deal with mental lapses, particularly in the field and on the bases. He's 20. USA Today has listed him as one of its nominees for Minor League Player of the Year. He may not have Chambers' speed but it is a plus tool for him. St. Louis may see him next year but I would expect his ETA as a regular player is 2014.
  • Safe to assume Lohse is going to be singing his swan song at year end? Does the org think SM has turned a corner or is a stop-gap still needed before he joins the big league club?
  • It's very difficult for me to envision a scenario in which Lohse is back. More significantly, he sees it the same way. I'm not ready to go all in on Miller having "turned the corner" based on five starts. Others in the market may. He dominated a makeshift Iowa team yesterday. More impressively, Shelby has gained command and pitch efficiency recently. Nothing is going to be handed to him, which is a nice departure from how some prospects may have been dealt with in previous years. Look for Miller, Kelly and Rosenthal to compete for a rotation spot next spring if Carp's status is in doubt. Kelly likely projects for the bullpen if there is no spot. Rosenthal and Miller probably would land at Memphis. The better news is that none of the younger arms HAS to make the rotation. Nor does the club have to stutter when asked about the identity of its No. 6 starter next spring. It will have options. Mo' said Tuesday he couldn't remember a time since the ascendance of Matt Morris and Alan Benes that the club has had multiple high-ceiling youngsters vying for the same berth. It's a good thing.
  • 10 HUGE games coming up, no? Is splitting them good enough to keep in the Wild Card Race?
  • Yes, if the five wins include two against the Pirates. I love the Pirates narrative. I hope they finish with a winning record for the first time since '92. Hurdle deserves consideration for Manager of the Year. But I have a difficult time -- still -- seeing them out-kicking the Cardinals. My sense is that the Cardinals will have to sweat the NL West runner-up for the second wild card. (The Braves, however, do have Dr. Heimlich on speed dial.)
  • If Carp is healthy, do you expect competition for the 5th rotation spot behind Carp/WW/Garcia/Westbrook next year or does Lynn go in as the clear frontrunner? It seems Kelly's performance has earned him a chance to compete next year.
  • I would anticipate Lynn starting the season in the starting rotation. Mitchell Boggs' ascendance this season creates less of a need in the eighth inning. Lynn has worked 142.1 innings. He's 3-4 starts from reaching his career high. Yes, he has received uncommon run support. But to dismiss his first half based on some recent choppy surf is unfair. Lynn bailed the rotation out during the first half.
  • Good afternoon and thank you for your time. Regarding Waino, even though Dewitt isnt a fan of the big money contracts for Starting Pitching and the influx of talent coming up, dont you agree its still wise to sign Waino longterm at big money? I think so. I mean he will be a leader to the youth, and is a money pitcher (see last night or 2006 WS for example). Yes the sabre or war stuff for a young pitcher (lynn,kelly,rosenthal,etc) could get you 15 wins and waino 18-20 so why pay $20M for those extra three wins but PLAYOFFS is where it will matter. Do you want a young gun facing Roy Halladay or Kershaw? THoughts
  • My take: Give Waino' the AAV but try to hold the line on term. He's 31. Five years plus a series of options sounds about right. But don't nickel-and-dime the guy when he's scheduled to make $9M and $12M this year and next. Compromise may be found by folding the '13 season into an extension at a higher salary.
  • With today's news of Colon testing positive for testosterone, preceded about a week by Melky doing the same and Victor Conte suggesting half of baseball is using synthetic testosterone, I am curious on your opinion of how many players right now in baseball are using some form of PED? Is the past two weeks just an unlucky coincidence for MLB that two players on tested positive, or is is the beginning of an ugly truth that MLB is not as clean as it claims it is?
  • Anyone who believes the game is incredibly naive. Conte is the godfather of this stuff. Some may find him despicable but he's talking from a much more authoritative position than most. I find the 50 percent figure high. However, I'd be stunned if there is not at least double-digit usage within the game. Colon won't be the last player exposed. MLB has never claimed to be rid of PEDs. It does claim to have the most aggressive testing policy of any American team sport. I'll grant it that.
  • Joe... how tough was it for you to watch the Cardinals ruin countless chances and lose to the Pirates in 19 innings the other night? How does that game rank in biggest disappointments during your career of covering this team?
  • My disappointment was confined to not leaving the stadium after a 2:45 or 3:15 game. I'm invested in giving you a good story. The outcome isn't going to send me home (or to Lumiere) in a foul mood. Thankfully, I was off Sunday. I attended the game on my own time but left (along with most of the BFIB) before the 16th inning.
  • Is there still a possibility of adding a righthanded bat for the bench for the stretch run?
  • Sure, it's possible. But I doubt it. Berkman is expected to serve as a bench bat in September. I do think the bench will receive serious attention this offseason.
  • Has any thought been given to skipping Lynn for a turn/getting him an extra day, etc with his innings load? Does the schedule permit?
  • I would expect the matter to be discussed should Lynn experience difficulty in Cincinnati. Manager Matheny has been increasingly blunt in what he is seeing from Lynn. The first-inning woes precipitated a warning in Philadelphia. Poor body language brought another rebuke Saturday against Pittsburgh. Lynn's pitch efficiency is down. It's not a character flaw if Lynn is feeling the effects of an entire season in a major-league rotation.
  • In your answer earlier you stated you would anticipate Lynn starting the season in the bullpen. Why not the rotation? And who in his place?
  • I misspoke. I would expect him to open the season in the rotation. Thanks for pointing out my slip.
  • I've amended my earlier comment re: Lynn.
  • Joe, you mentioned last year about Skip being a clubhouse favorite that teammates pull hard for. We hear the cry from fans about his lack of playing time. Do others in the clubhouse notice it/react to it too?
  • The issue presented in Sunday's Post-Dispatch was not a product of a writer's imagination. Questions posed by fans were shared by some within the clubhouse. The matter in no way is a dig at Daniel Descalso. However, some thought Descalso becoming overexposed while wondering why Schumaker's value had apparently eroded. Coincidence or not, Schu' has started both games since the issue was publicized. Again, no one expressed any concern until Descalso started four times to Schumaker's once following Matheny's projection of future playing time.
  • joe, i find the odds pretty small that the Cards can regain much of the 8-10 games they blew this year, i know the offense has been dissected ad nauseum, but when i found out the close/late ops for freese was 588 i about spit out my breakfast, does matt carpenter deserve some of these ab's, freese has been awful in the clutch despite his overall decent numbers, your take/
  • Interesting. Freese was considered a clutch god last season. Now he's a choker? Freese is in a funk right now. When right, he is among the team's better run producers. He is also a much-improved defender who no longer needs to be hustled from the field in late innings. As a whole, the Cardinals have struggled against good bullpens this season. The NL Central has two very good bullpens -- Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
  • It's nice to have a few high ceiling pitchers in the minors, with Miller, Martinez, Maness, and Rosenthal being the most regarded. Who do you see having the most impact in STL long range?
  • Not my gig. I'll leave the rankings to the sharp minds at Baseball America and others who market the minors. I do think it a bit of a reach to rate Maness alongside Miller, Martinez and Rosenthal at this point. Maness may evolve into a successful major-league pitcher but I've not spoken with anyone who rates his ceiling as high as Miller, Martinez, Rosenthal, Kelly, etc.
  • If Carpenter is unavailable to pitch next year, what route do you see the Cardinals taking? Using one of Kelly, Rosenthal, Miller or going after a veteran on a 1 year deal?
  • The No. 5 comes from within.
  • Giving the inning issues with Lynn, and Waino coming of Tommy john, would it make sense to have either Rosenthal, Miller, or Kelly make a spot start in September to just give the rotation a days rest?
  • Any adjustment to the rotation would be driven by performance, in my opinion. There is no reason to sit Waino', Westbrook or Lohse. Garcia was outstanding Sunday. Lynn is the only starter wearing a yellow flag at the moment. The Cardinals are off Sept. 6, 17 and 27. All fall during or before a home series. There could be an opportunity for an adjustment. Matheny has so far resisted that temptation this season.
  • Do you find the timing odd for the Westbrook signing? What affect, if any, do you think it may have on Kyle Lohse, since most thought it was either him or Westy to be offered?
  • No. Most thought the decision based entirely on Westbrook. The only ones who thought the possibility of re-signing Lohse real reside on chat boards. Neither the team nor the player fed that expectation. Mo' only noted Tuesday that he had not spoken with Lohse or agent Scott Boras about his situation. The assumption is that everyone in the room is a big boy. I would anticipate Lohse speaking to the matter in the next 24 hours.
  • Joe: Thanks for the chat, always informative although we don't always agree. With Lohse apparently coming off the books, do the Cardinals prempt Waino's free agency and sign him long term. Seems the smart thing to do with the prices for his kind setting new standards yearly.
  • It makes a lot of sense to address Wainwright before another team goes bananas over Greinke this winter. Cain and Hamels already have enflamed the marketplace.
  • Joe, great chat today as always! Have you seen MM grow as a manager and leader this year? If so how specifically; I really like MM and am rooting for him, but w/o the access you have it is difficult to see clearly how he is doing. 2nd Q: How do you see the Cards stacking up against the Nats? Any thoughts on the upcoming series?
  • Matheny has become much more comfortable handling his bullpen. Certainly, the starters' ability to shorten games has been a big assist. The lack of consistency on the pen's left side has remained a persistent issue. The series in Phladelphia -- and the reluctance to use Fuentes while exposing Browning to two game-losing situations -- offered an illustration. Rzepczynski hasn't been the same lockdown guy as last September. Matheny continues to enjoy the support of the clubhouse, though the Descalso/Schumaker issue raised some questions. Rival scounts and club execs share the opinion that Mike is going to be a very good, even outstanding major-league manager.
  • Greetings from San Diego, yes i left the sweltering heat and baseball heaven to live in San Diego but i am still die hard cards fan, just ask my mlb package price. Anywho i just wanted to say that if i have to hear about another Angels fan talk about how good pujols is and what he has done in his career i might just hit the man. Yes i know what pujols is and what he has done i watched it. I say this because i have to hear it everyday (i wear my cards hat to death, 2011 WS) and well i have looked past pujols decision. But do you agree that it still not only looks weird watching him in the Angels uniform but when i watch cards games everyday as well. Does he know he could have been the King of ST louis forever? or am i over stating that?
  • I do believe AP misses what he had in St. Louis. I also believe he was bruised deeply by the club's handling of his free agency. I don't disagree with the club's decision to move on. However, there is room for debate about how it carried out that decision. Pujols felt misled. But to be honest, I'm not sure there could have been an easy parting. I saw/heard it coming for two years. Few wanted to see/hear the same thing.
  • Joe: Re. 19 Inning Pittsburgh game Sunday. While I know it has already been beat to death, it is moves like taking Craig out for a pinch runner that really have me questioning his (MM) thought process. First, Descalso is not a base stealer, secondly, he's probably not all that much faster, thirdly, it doesn't make much sense to steal with your two biggest power hitters batting next, and finally, if it fails (it did) then you exchange a bat that could end it with one swing with one who is lucky to get a hit. What was he thinking there? It baffled me.
  • There likely would have been far less criticism of the move had Mike waited until Craig reached scoring position to pinch run. I don't disagree with some of the armchair analysis. However, there is nothing easier than to manage a game backwards. Many BFIB have raised it to an art form. But with Holliday, Freese and Beltran scuffling, I agree it seemed a bit unnecessary -- or at least premature -- to subract Craig from the lineup.
  • Surfmeister, curious about Furcal's health and ability to perform down the stretch. Cortisone shots only get you so far. If he breaks down, will the Cards rely on Jackson or Descalso? And how big of a blow will that be to the team defensively? Thanks - and the chop's even rough in the wading pool today!
  • The Cardinals are screwed if Furcal breaks down. Clear enough?
  • Hey Joe, I am interested on your take regarding what I will call the "politics of prospects." You would think that sports would be the ultimate meritocracy--either you perform or you don't, and if you do, you get promoted and you play. Yet, it is clear that at times the Cardinals (and I assume this is true throughout baseball) seem to want some prospects to succeed over others. The obvious example recently was Rasmus vs Jay. While Jay will never be confused with Ken Griffey, Jr., he consistently performed at every level, but the club seemed reluctant at times to acknowledge what he could do on the field (high average, good, not great, speed, fine fielder). Meanwhile, we all know the hype about Rasmus, some of which (ability to hit for average, throwing arm) was just inaccurate. It was interesting to note this year the promotion of Kelly over Miller--performance was the clear differentiator. What's your take on how prospects get sold to you, the media, and thus, us, the fan?
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