The Front Office's place in all of this chaos.

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  • #75237
    Brian Walton
    Brian Walton
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    Bob Reed said:

    “The brilliant Redbird front office of 2008-2015 is still largely intact.”

    Times change. St. Louis is no longer a desired destination, so guys are not willing to take less to play in self-titled “baseball heaven”.

    #75238
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    CariocaCardinal
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    And is it really intact? Lunhow alone poached 15-20 people didnt he? I’ll bet Kantrovitz took a few as well. Along with natural/attrition and industry movement I would bet less than 25% of the 2008 front office is there and wouldn’t be surprised if it was closer to 10%.

    #75239
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    Bob Reed
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    Yeah, I guess I should have said intact at the top. I’d like to know the overall numbers, C.C.. But at any rate, Redbird drafting, their trades, and their international amateur acquisitions over the past few years are still each very strong, maybe even elite. And the recent free agents out of Japan (I know, it’s just a couple of guys) have worked out tremendously.

    As for youth and the future, the Cards led the National League this year in rookie hitter WAR and they also led in rookie pitcher WAR. (Fangrphs WAR.) I doubt that such a combo happens very often. Specifically, they had 8.6 WAR from rooks, and the rest of the N.L. Central combined for 4.1. The N.L. average was just 2.8 per team, so the Birds more than tripled it.

    And despite those graduations, they still have a lot left — very likely more teenage position player talent in the minors than any organization. In fact, I guarantee it’s more than any other organization, if we count all the guys who were 19 for the 2018 season, like Elehuris Montero, Dylan Carlson, and supersleeper prospect bat Leandro Cedeno. The pitching is down, perhaps way down, but in total the farm is in excellent shape, albeit oddly shaped.

    Internal talent, majors & minors, is not the trouble. It just feels to me that the front office has lost its self-discipline of the recent past, and a fraction of good judgement. And that’s resulted in some self-immolation. They’ve been “hole-patching” instead of acquiring whole players. Imagine that you need more speed? Trade for Bourjos, who can’t hit. Oops, now you need power? Trade for Brandon Moss, who can’t do anything else. Need relief help? Sign a slew of free agents who are too old, too expensive, or require far too many years of contract.

    Think you need a leadoff hitter, because Carpenter has too much power? Spend lavishly on career mediocrity Dexter Fowler, on the wrong side of 30, coming off a fluke year — maybe he’ll let you look at his World Series ring! And he’ll play centerfield for 3 or 4 years, because obviously that kid Bader can’t be trusted. Sure he’s been dominating the minors ever since he was drafted, but everybody knows you shouldn’t scout those darn statlines.

    With both Kyle Lohse and Lance Lynn, the team was disciplined, smart. (They still understood some first principles, by not re-signing Lance Lynn. So all is not lost.) They did not used to give a 2-3 WAR performer a star-length contract after turning 30 years old. With Fowler and Cecil, they lost their minds, and more than a little. If you’re the Cardinals you cannot pay mere regulars as though they were stars. Some teams can. The Cards cannot.

    (Which is why the cockeyed Hosmer/Moustakas rumors were so maddening a year ago, and why they’re STILL insane now, when it comes to Moose. He’s Gyorko. Or maybe Gyorko-lite. Let him go somewhere else. I don’t care if he hits righty, lefty, or standing on his head. You don’t get extra credit for having so-called “balance” in your lineup. By OPS+ the Red Sox best 4 hitters were all righty this year, the Yankees 5 best were all righty, and the Astros’ best were Bregman, Altuve, Springer, Tyler White, and Yuri Gurriel. All 5 of them righties. And that doesn’t even include Carlos Correa. You think those monster lineups’ front offices are losing sleep over a lack of “balance” in their offense? Don’t bet on it.)

    Twelve months ago the StL front office fired the good coach (Lilliquist) and kept the crap one (Mabry). One half of that error was rectified in July, and, no surprise at all, the team played much, much better. Scored a LOT more runs per game (5.1 runs per game without Mabry, versus 4.4 with him). And the bats of Pham and Voit sure seemed glad to get out of town, didn’t they? Also, get off my lawn.

    But really, the talent is already here to win 94-96 games, if a couple of excellent relievers are added. That’s it. Well, maybe three relievers. Of course, they can’t add three or even two relievers because of the dead roster spots being so graciously preserved for Malcontent Fowler, Washed Up Cecil, and No Velocity Gregerson. So as long as the front office is stubborn, they’re trapped.

    Okay so that wasn’t the most eloquent screed I ever wrote. But it felt pretty good anyway.

    #75240
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    Bob Reed
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    Bob, I disagree about Holland. He only signed for 1 year so his signing was not a risk.

    One year certainly made it less of a risk, Forschy. But I feel like history shows that when someone is signed for a substantial amount of dough — let’s say, anything over 5-6% of player payroll for the season — there are always two risks.

    One, the club will feel the need to keep using him past the point of good sense, because of the contract commitment. The time to cut Holland was late May, somewhere within his streak of four straight terrible appearances. (Or of course they could have just fixed him. Like Washington and Lilliquist did, immediately.) After late May I think Holland allowed something like 15 runs, 10 earned, in 13 innings. That contract-driven patience cost the Cards roughly one game in the standings.

    And two, due to the dough, the club will be limited in the range of moves they can make later in the season, if the need arises. Let’s say for the sake of discussion that the Cards never signed Holland. That theoretically would have left a Holland-sized chunk of money to invest at the trade deadline, on someone like Cole Hamels for example, if the Cards thought they saw something fixable. Or any other hitter or pitcher who seemed like he could help, obviously.

    The Bud Norris contract came with no risk. Final Boss, very little risk. Even Miles Mikolas had only a modicum of risk, despite being a multi-year deal for a starting pitcher — because the AAV money was modest. But Holland had meaningful risk. (And the next 3 or 4 times Derrick Goold says “There’s no such thing as a bad one-year contract” in one of his chats, someone please remind him of Greg Holland. Oh, and the high draft pick flushed away. And the half a million in international amateur bonus money. Arrrgh.

    Is it really so bleeping difficult to trade for a relief pitcher or two? Find another Mujica, Mo. (And make room for him by cutting Gregerson and Cecil already, for heaven’s sake.)

    #75241
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    Cardinals27
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    I have a problem with the Gregerson signing in retrospect, (which I understand all about hindsight) as did anyone scout him in 2017? I was in favor of signing him, but the not the term. He should have been had in a similar way as Norris. One year make good.

    And I also had not seen him pitch in years. I thought we were getting his youthful self that threw in the mid 90’s with a wicked slider. Even low 90’s would have been good. And lastly, didn’t this FO say they never paid relievers for past performance? Apparently that is excuse 9999.

    #75243
    Brian Walton
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    #75270
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    forsch31
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    USUALLY, the reason a team keeps running a high-dollar-player-who-is-not-performing out to the field over and over is that they have the talent. If they didn’t have the talent, they wouldn’t have received a contract anywhere near what they did. The team believes that the next time the player steps on the field that he will start to perform up to the standard they envisioned when they signed him. The player has the ability, they just aren’t performing. Look at Holland, he goes to Washington and does what the Cardinals signed him to do.

    Also, the Cardinals had the money to make a move later in the season. They just didn’t use it.

    #75272
    BlackHillsCard
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    As people on this forum can attest I was never in favor of Greggerson and wanted him cut from Day 1 which led to some snarky back-and-forth arguments.

    #75518
    Brian Walton
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    #75525
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    14NyquisT
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    Heyward/Fowler are the two reasons that the Cards are where they are today. That has to be said, at least in my mind. Mozeliak panicked in both acquisitions and brought to St Louis two of the most overrated, under achieving players in baseball today. Letting Heyward move on saved further ruination but the situation lingers.

    I would like to know who is considered “the Cardinals” in this article. It seems avoid making that clear, as does many members of the media who owe their jobs to “the Cardinals”.

    #75534
    Brian Walton
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    The article is not about Heyward and even less about Fowler. You seem to have missed the point entirely. It is about exercising less caution in improving the team for 2019.

    To your wish to name names:

    Saxon did not identify his source for the “walk-year fear”, so I could not either. He defended it in social media after his article was published. Those who already have a dislike of Saxon and The Athletic will likely brush it off as rabble-rousing.

    We have discussed the Hummel comment about a higher salary than Molina previously. Again, its origin is unclear, but the media source itself is very credible.

    Other than MLB.com employees or FOX Midwest employees, whose employment could be indirectly affected by the team, I am unaware of these media people to whom you refer and therefore, question your assertion.

    Then again, I guess at the highest level, we all owe our participation – even those posting here – on the existence of the Cardinals. Not that it is meaningful to the specific discussion here.

    #75541
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    14NyquisT
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    I think that Heyward and Fowler are very relevant to the topic. “The Cardinals” are now gun shy and are under pressure to show that “they” can add quality players that don’t blow up. You can add in the pitiful bullpen acquisitions (Cecil continues to be a thorn).

    #75546
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    Cardinals2016
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    Heyward affected their thinking on one year players…

    Fowler affected their thinking on long term deals, even for mid-level contracts, as now we are apparently stuck with Fowler. Fowler probably also affected their due diligence, because he apparently had them completely convinced he was a leader who would bring the team together, and is evidently the complete opposite.

    #75548
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    Cardinals2016
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    Regarding Jonathan Schoop – the Brewers non-tendered him yesterday, and their GM said that acquiring him was a mistake and “that’s all on me.”

    When was the last time the Cardinals front office admitted a mistake and said, “it’s all on me?”

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by Avatar Cardinals2016.
    #75552
    Brian Walton
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    FWIW, I thought the same thing when I saw the quote, C2016. Stearns seems like a straight-shooter. With the right support from ownership, it does not look like the Brewers are going away.

    #75555
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    I admire what the Brewers are doing. The Cardinals, when they see young players showing indications of playing at a major league level, say, “Let’s give them 3-4 years to see how they do.”

    The Brewers had several young outfielders perform in 2017. What did they do? Went out and got Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, and won the division in 2018.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a trade for one of Cleveland’s starting pitchers, and sign somebody like JA Happ.

    And, yes, the Brewers are a small market team, and I’m perfectly fine with them participating in revenue sharing.

    #75574
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    gscottar
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    Brian, I agree with your article 1000%. I have been pleading for the Cardinals to become more aggressive the last three years. I must admit, however, I am a bit surprised to hear this coming from you because you are obviously a big believer in the minor leagues and prospects. More so than most and much more than me. There is nothing wrong with that of course but usually minor league aficionados tend to be prospect hoarders and reluctant to trade them away. I don’t intend to paint with a broad brush and I may be completely wrong but that is just the impression I have always gotten.

    Nevertheless, I am very pleased to see you write such an article. As Casey Stern says “prospects are cool but parades are cooler.”

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by Avatar gscottar.
    #75581
    Brian Walton
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    Thank you for the comments, gscottar. The environment across the game and in St. Louis has changed and the team must adapt.

    In fact, right now I am writing a follow on article for Sunday in which I address the prospect hoarding aspect specifically. While I follow prospects for a living, I believe I strike a balance. In fact, I try to in most matters.

    Here is my thought process summarized.

    I have said for years that the team has lacked a true offensive threat – ever since Albert left. A hitter the other team fears who can win a tight game late and can lead the Cards to a long winning streak single-handedly. I thought they had that in Stanton. I don’t think Ozuna measures up. No one in the farm system is anywhere nearly close enough to count on. The Cards are rich in quantity but low in highest quality. So, a trade or free agency seems the only near term answer.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by Brian Walton Brian Walton.
    #75583
    Brian Walton
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    I thought some might be interested in a related twitter exchange I had with a knowledgeable fan.

    #75585
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    NJ315
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    I can understand trading for Heyward and trying to sign him after that. But I will never understand the Fowler signing. I was stunned they did. If that’s one of the things from not taking chances of free agency they are fools. I know it won’t happen but I am still all on Harper. Not because he is “generational” player he isn’t but because he checks many of the boxes of what this organization needs. Other than the obvious he is a lefty he just turned 26 in October you are signing him for his most productive years. You can give him 10 yrs and he will 35 at the end of the contract. It sends a loud message to other free agents the Cardinals are open for business. It gives the team a marquee player whether he is or not. Brings an exciting new hope for the fans. He is impact on the lineup is what we need. He makes the lineup better. He isn’t Trout not even close but he doesn’t have to be. A big risk of course but a big reward possible. I rather take a chance on him than waiting for Arenado or the next big free agent. I don’t want to trade for Goldy he is 31, a righty, and plays a position we have a good player already. If you were to re-sign him at what price and how many years? From 32 to ????

    #75586
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    Cardinals2016
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    I do agree the Cardinals engage in prospect hoarding. It’s good while you are trying to build your roster, it’s bad when you have replacements at every position in AAA and still don’t pull the trigger. The last two years, the Yankees started making trades in August of players that they likely wouldn’t be able to protect in the Rule 5 draft, because they got tired of losing so many players.

    Right now, the 40 man is full of average players. We need upgrades. And we can’t start signing free agents until we clear the roster.

    I believe the Cardinals should act like a big market team and take advantage of smaller revenue (I refuse to call them all smaller market teams) and every year target players from teams that need to reduce payroll. The Cardinals have the revenue of a big market team, they need to act like it.

    Last year, I thought the only way to get Stanton was to basically swap outfields and 2nd base.

    This year, I think the only realistic way of moving Fowler is to take on Greinke’s salary. If the Cardinals were to do that, I’d either be asking for a prospect like Blaze Alexander back or having Goldschmidt included in the deal.

    Cleveland is at their financial limits, they have holes to fill, and they have a high-priced pitcher the Cardinals should want. Who cares if we have to trade 4:1? We can’t sign relievers until we clear spaces anyway!!!

    Just pull the trigger once in awhile.

    The idea we can build entirely from within is absurd.

    But the Cardinals have only made TWO trades of multiple players for stars in Mozeliak’s entire tenure, and I just don’t see any vision from the front office to make this team better in any meaningful way.

    #75587
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    gscottar
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    I agree 2016. We are a big market team yet we don’t act like it. It is time we start.

    Every once in awhile we need to drop the prospect love and embrace our inner Jerry Dipoto.

    The average mlb fan doesn’t pay much attention to the minor leagues or any prospect beyond the top 10 or 20 of their team. They just want their big league team to win. While it may be fun to spend hours debating who our 57th best prospect is I think most of us agree that what binds us together is what kind of success is happening in St. Louis.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by Avatar gscottar.
    #75589
    Brian Walton
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    I do not consider prospects and MLB success to be mutually exclusive. Like in everything else, it seems, seeking the proper balance is the ongoing challenge.

    #75590
    bicyclemike
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    I did not like the Heyward trade at the time, as one year seemed to risky and I thought Shelby Miller was going to be really good. But it worked out okay, as Jason was the best player on that 2015 team, and then he walked and has not approached a season like that since.

    In fact, our two top players in 2015 in terms of WAR were Heyward and John Lackey. They both went north for 2016 and the Cubs won the World Series. Hmmm.

    As for Dex, we are likely stuck with him in 2019. He deserves a shot in the Spring to prove he can still play at a quality level and earn a spot on the club. I think he could be a good fourth outfielder, albeit an expensive one. But on the current roster, you need to run Ozuna, Bader and O’Neill out there most days.

    #75591
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    Cardinals2016
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    He deserves a shot in the Spring to prove he can still play at a quality level and earn a spot on the club.

    I don’t think he deserves a shot, but yes, I agree we are likely stuck with him for two more years (they will probably be willing to cut him at some point in his 5th year).

    I think he could be a good fourth outfielder, albeit an expensive one.

    The problem is, the Cardinals are going to insist on rolling him out in the outfield, even if O’Neill is better. Just like they did last year. Contract size matters, performance does not on the Cardinals.

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