Outfield Dilemma …

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  • #115207
    AvatarCariocaCardinal
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    Bob, I highly respevt your posts but if you say DeJong can replace Ozuna then who replaces DeJong?

    #115208
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    A productive Matt Carpenter. The key to the offense is Tommy Edman’s speed at the top.

    #115209
    AvatarBob Reed
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    Thanks, CC. The feeling’s mutual.

    Since there are Baseball-Reference projections up for the 2020 season, they might serve as a rough guideline. Bearing in mind of course that players with abbreviated MLB track records (like Randy Arozarena, Lane Thomas, et. al.) have a significantly wider performance delta, here are some 2020 forecasts in descending order of projected slugging percentage:

    Lane Thomas .503 slugging
    Tommy Edman .484
    Paul DeJong .466
    Tyler O’Neill .464
    Randy Arozarena .452
    Matt Carpenter .451
    Gap
    Yadi Molina .422
    Kolten Wong .419
    Harry Bader .414
    Delicate Dexter .411

    I excluded Goldy since he’ll almost surely anchor the lineup in the 3-hole. And also Jose Martinez, since he obviously has no business starting for a playoff contender. (Well, if he hits like 2017/18, I guess Martinez can start in RF when an extreme groundball pitcher like Dakota Hudson takes the bump.)

    For the sake of this exercise, if we just take all of the above numbers at face value, next year’s lineup should probably look something like:

    2B Wong
    LF Edman
    1B Goldschmidt
    RF Lane Thomas
    3B Carpenter
    SS DeJong
    C Molina
    CF Bader
    P

    Arozarena and O’Neill would be 4th and 5th outfielders in this scenario — but for me, I’d prefer one of them as the left field starter, and Tommy E. as a super-utility guy who starts four or five days a week all over the diamond depending on matchups and player health.

    And even though Lane Thomas is projected to slug .500+, I’d rather see a month or two of dominant Triple-A performance before anointing him as an MLB starter, much less cleanup hitter.

    So I guess the answer to “who replaces DeJong” in the lineup would be a new left fielder: either Arozarena or O’Neill or Edman. Or just maybe Dylan Carlson. Or Carp if he bounces halfway back to his previous borderline elite level as a batsman. But anyway, the broader point, the bigger point is that it just ain’t that difficult to replace the offense of a corner outfielder with a 106 OPS+ for his Redbird career. Marcell Ozuna was nothing special for the Cards, nothing like the player they thought they were acquiring. And he’ll only get slower and fatter from here.

    #115211
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    The Cardinals have to find a way to unload Fowler and J Martinez. There are a lot of moving parts with Edman, Carlson, Thomas, Arozarena, O’Neill & Bader. They are blocked by Fowler and Martinez.

    #115213
    AvatarMinuteman3
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    I love how J Martinez is characterized as being practically worthless to the Cardinals. Yeah you can run all your stats by but the guy is still a hitter who hits the ball all over so they can’t really position for any particular place. And in the final Chicago 4 game series he was an absolute key to the wins which if you recall were the key to the Cards winning the division with the Brewers nippng at their heels.

    So run him down all you want. In my eyes his fielding was passable about as passable as Ozuna’s who was making multiple times the money. Pinch hitter – yes and he also had his low offense period like all of his teammates but he played a lot better when he batted more than once per game.

    So love him or hate him, I’ll take him on my team every day.

    #115221
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    Based on your analysis the Cardinals should be able to get a lot in trade value.

    #115225
    stlcard25stlcard25
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    So love him or hate him, I’ll take him on my team every day

    I won’t be mad if he’s on the 2020 Cards, per se, but he’s a pure DH/PH type for this team and even that is a risk for this team. If he’s able to hit like he did earlier in his career, he’s got value. If he’s just average like 2019, then he’s probably better off as trade bait to let the kids have a shot.

    #115226
    stlcard25stlcard25
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    Therefore, based on both last year and his career, Harry Bader should be the starting centerfielder next season, period. If he maintains his superlative glovework and hits in 2020 as projected by the B-Ref Marcel forecasting system (.240 with 15 homers), he’ll be a 4-4.5 WAR player. And if he only hits like he did in 2019, he’s still worth keeping in the starting lineup. Just bat him near the bottom, and pinch hit late when tied or trailing.

    Bob, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit this morning. I generally agree that Bader should get every shot to start. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Thomas and Arozarena. I know that they are in your other post as “projected” starters but I think a lot of people are seeing Lane and Randy as a step down with the glove but a potentially big step up with the bat.

    Personally, I’d be a little surprised if Bader hits .240 with 15 HRs next year but I suppose it’s possible. It seems like that projection is somewhat influenced by the backwash of his strong debut in 2018. Seems like we get burned by that rosy outlook every year or two (Grichuk, Piscotty, Dejong, maybe Edman this coming year).

    #115227
    Avatar14NyquisT
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    I’m with Minuteman on his analysis of JMartinez. I would just add that he keeps the dugout loose and is the #1 cheerleader. If you say that’s not important, I beg to differ. Just ask the younger players.

    #115228
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    Edman would bat 3rd in the lineup above. Tommy Edman is very reminiscent of a modern day Tommy Herr as far as I am concerned.

    That is is an excellent comparison Rat! Herr is one of my all time favorites and I can see Edman being like him. In 1985, Herr hit third in the lineup and posted .302avg 8hr 110rbi. Of course he hit behind Coleman and McGee and in front of Jack the Ripper.

    Personally I would like to see Edman be the everyday 3B. That way we would know that our IF is locked down defensively everyday. It would probably be the best defensive IF in the NL.

    So what about Carp? Well I think he should be the rover/utility guy. He could get a few games at 3B, spell Goldy at 1B once in a while, and maybe get some looks in LF. I know Mo threw cold water on the LF idea but why not give it a shot? I don’t think his routes to the ball and throwing arm would be any worse than Ozuna. He might be a good platoon player out there with one of the youngsters.

    So what would my 2020 lineup look like? Assuming JMart is traded and no one of significance is added this winter I would go with:

    1. Fowler RF
    2. Wong 2B
    3. Edman 3B
    4. Goldy 1B
    5. Carp LF
    6. Molina C
    7. Thomas CF
    8. DeJong SS
    9. Pitcher

    Keep in mind I am not a big fan of Fowler and Carp in the lineup but there is no need to pretend they will be on the bench because they won’t be. The Cards can’t tolerate paying big money to someone then not playing them, no matter what the stats say.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by Avatargscottar.
    #115231
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    They might not be on the bench at the start of the season but negative performance will put them there.

    #115281
    AvatarCardinal in France
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    I’m one of those who would keep Jose Martinez around. I just like his attitude. Also, he can hit if given semi-regular ABs.

    #115303
    AvatarBob Reed
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    “Bob, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit this morning. I generally agree that Bader should get every shot to start. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Thomas and Arozarena. I think a lot of people are seeing Lane and Randy as a step down with the glove but a potentially big step up with the bat.”

    And I agree with those people, stl25. But with some nuance. (Can’t resist the chance to ramble & rant.)

    I see Lane Thomas as a real wildcard at the plate, a guy whose bat could be anywhere from poor to very good. But for me Arozarena feels like a hitter who will definitely hit, if given steady at-bats. Year over year, he’s adjusted beautifully to each level in the minors.

    As for fielding, Randy lacks the instincts for center but should be fine in a corner, and perhaps above average — not unlike Dylan Carlson. Lane Thomas on the other hand can play a solid CF, I think. (Nothing like Bader, though.) And Lane’s feel for baserunning is better than Randy’s. The problems with Lane Thomas? Plate discipline and nagging injuries. And also it kind of seems like his bat stagnated at AAA in 2019. (As opposed to Arozarena.)

    To sum up: In a laboratory setting, where each guy got 600 fully healthy plate appearances per year, I think Bader would be worth ~3.5 WAR per year for the next half decade, and Randy Arozarena and Lane Thomas both in the 2 – 2.5 range. So, the latter two are plausible starters, but potentially excellent bench contributors. (But then, that’s what I thought about Jon Jay, Allen Craig, and Tommy Pham. So don’t listen to me.)

    ————————

    “Personally, I’d be a little surprised if Bader hits .240 with 15 HRs next year but I suppose it’s possible.”

    I can understand your skepticism. I know that a LOT of Redbird fans have already thrown in the towel on Bader. It is admittedly very hard to watch guys with low batting averages as they struggle day in, day out (regardless of whatever other skills they possess). But if a 33-year-old batter can bounce back from .180 to .238, is it such a stretch for a 25-year-old to go from .205 to .240?

    At any rate, the Marcel projection model used by Baseball-Reference may be rather rudimentary, but to the best of my knowledge it has a track record about as reliable as any of the more sophisticated and oft-cited forecast generators like ZiPS, Steamer and PECOTA. And speaking of Steamer, it predicts Bader will bat .238 and pop a dozen homers — but in barely over 300 AB’s. (B-Ref had him with just under 400 AB’s.)

    So the only two current publicly available forecast models see Bader pretty much exactly the same. And much, much more in line with his overall MLB numbers than his disappointing 2019 campaign.

    Keep the faith, stl25!

    #115323
    stlcard25stlcard25
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    Thanks for the info, Bob. I’ll be curious how the OF plays out next year. There are certainly plenty of pieces with potential, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them add a LH bat out there either (unless they see Fowler as a backup/bench bat).

    #115585
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    As if there were not enough outfielders, along with Carlson, it appears Torres and Machado will Rule 5 eligible next year. Not that Machado would be a threat to be drafted at this point. However, Torres might be on teams radar, if he shows good progress this year.

    In fact, I will go on record saying that Torres moves up to number 2 prospect at some point in 2020, as Carlson should graduate. I like his patience, and power potential along with a strong arm. He is also said to be very willing to learn and listen to his coaches. After a rough start in 2020 at Peoria, he rebounded nicely in Johnson City. He should start in Peoria again this spring.

    #115616
    Avatar1982 willie
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    well if you add all the thoughts and ideas of everyone on this board, it basically adds up that we basically have the same roster this upcoming season as we did the last. now your feelings about that would be determined by whether you think this team over achieved, did about right, or under achieved. given that the pitching was relatively great for the most part, that all narrows to the other members of the team. if you think that a lot of these players that fell off will bounce back, then you would think we under achieved and giving them another shot, we could at the least be in the running to duplicate or better our finish. if you feel we over achieved and don’t really feel some of those players will bounce back, then you may feel we need to change things up a bit. now personally I believe the cardinals should go out and spend that money they are raking in on a great player in his prime not past it. assuming it isn’t a pitcher, that then gives you more options on how to use the other guys. I don’t think the cardinals are gonna spend any of that money in a meaningful way so to me, its best we wait til spring training to sort things out with what we have. assuming no changes, guys like carpenter, bader, fowler, and maybe some others that their positions are theirs to lose but lose them they can whether it be spring or during the season. no more waiting months to make decisions.

    #115632
    AvatarCardsFanInChiTown
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    They have to trade at least two of the current OF options, maybe 3 of Carlson will be up in late April.

    Fowler really ruins all plans, if they eat 6.5/year, and get nothing back, wouldn’t they be able to find a team he would accept.

    Arozarena and Thomas >>> Fowler and Bader

    #115812
    Avatarsheepdawg
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    Having been a Memphis Redbird season ticket holder since 2000 I’ve seen pretty much all of the outfielders play. I have to wonder why all the disrespect for Tyler O’Neill? He’s a B+ fielder, can play anywhere out there, made some real nice plays down here, has a better than average arm, can hit a baseball as far as anyone on the planet, has almost Bader like speed and to top it off is just a downright nice kid. I think he deserves a better chance than what the Cardinals have given him. When Ozuna was hurt he wasn’t anymore a liability than anyone else gracing the Busch Stadium outfield. Hitting breaking pitches might work it’s way out if he gets some more at bats.

    #115819
    stlcard25stlcard25
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    Sheepdawg, O’Neill was the primary starter in LF when Ozuna was out. His plate discipline stats improved, and he was a solid hitter. But then he got hurt. I’d like to see him have a run at a starting gig in the spring too, but we will see if he gets that chance.

    #115846
    AvatarSimba9
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    i would like to see LF Oniel.. CF Bader…RF Thomas.. with Fowler (since he has to stay) Platooning RF and Arozorena spelling LF and CF .. Carlson replacing the first one struggling or injured later in the year

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