Bob Reed

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  • in reply to: Outfield Dilemma … #115303
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    Bob 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!

    in reply to: Outfield Dilemma … #115209
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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.

    in reply to: Outfield Dilemma … #115206
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    “You want DeJong in the cleanup spot?????
    Not in a million years. Unless he turns it around big time.”

    “DeJong in the 4th spot? I haven’t head anything that funny in months.”

    ———————————-

    Hmmm, let’s think about cleanup hitter. Derrick Goold and many others have suggested that it will be very difficult for the Cards to replace Marcell Ozuna at cleanup hitter.

    Marcell Ozuna as a Cardinal: .451 slugging percentage and a 106 OPS+.
    Paul DeJong for his MLB career: .467 slugging, and a 106 OPS+.

    Now, lemme be clear. I’m not advocating for DeJong as cleanup hitter. But rather I’m trying to throw cold water on the nonsense that “Ozuna’s bat will be tough to replace.”

    But neither do I mean to dismiss the idea of DeJong at cleanup. If he hits .260 with 30-35 homers, that’d be fine. And it wouldn’t surprise me much if he did just that.

    ————————————–

    But this is an outfielder thread, so let me suggest something about the outfield that is both radical and boringly obvious.

    Harrison Bader had a horrible year at the plate in 2019 and was STILL an above average ballplayer, thanks largely to his wondrous range in the outfield. We all know that great defense has a lot of value, especially up-the-middle defense. And Bader is indeed a great defender, which made him above average overall. He was above average whether we look at Baseball-Reference values, or Fangraphs. Even with the ugly bat.

    And for his (admittedly brief) career thus far, he has been worth an excellent 3.6 WAR per 600 plate appearances according to Fangraphs. And B-Ref likes him even more than that, at 3.8 WAR per 600.

    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.

    in reply to: Houston Astros Stealing Signs #114420
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    “Bob, they (amphetamines) were common place in baseball throughout the 90’s, and the nineties use was less than the 80’s. And the 80’s less than the 70’s. And if my elders are to be believed, the 70’s were their peak (into the early 80’s).”

    Ever hear the one about the guy who gets arrested for cheating on his taxes? He goes to court and the judge asks him how he wants to plead.

    “I plead only kind of guilty, your honor”

    Kind of guilty?”

    “Yeah, I’m not really guilty, because lots of other people cheat on their taxes too.”

    in reply to: Houston Astros Stealing Signs #114409
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    “Is it really your understanding that amphetamine use mostly went away in 1971?”

    It does not matter what specific percentage of players stopped using in 1971.

    What matters is that any MLB player using amphetamines after Kuhn issued his Drug Policy Memo was violating MLB rules.

    And we know that Kuhn’s Drug Policy Memo was an enforceable and binding rule governing all MLB players, because the Memo was in fact enforced a couple dozen times while Peter Ueberroth was Commissioner in the 1980’s — most notoriously around the time of the Pittsburgh Drug Trials.

    The national coverage of the illegal PED users has been third rate from the start. Just to take one glaring example, national baseball writer Dan Szymborski of Fangraphs lies to his readers about these facts on a regular basis, when he loudly, repeatedly, and falsely claims that Kuhn’s Drug Policy was meaningless until there was drug testing. Kuhn’s Policy was NOT meaningless. It was enforced again and again in the 1980’s, and a variety of disciplinary actions were appealed and upheld — some were upheld in their entirety, some were reduced, and just one was fully overturned (the rather absurd one year suspension for Fergie Jenkins).

    Any players who used “greenies” or anabolic steroids or any other illegal PED’s after April, 1971, would not get my Hall Of Fame vote. Because of this, from the HOF website:

    5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

    Integrity.
    Sportsmanship.
    Character.

    Those are three of the six yardsticks to be used, per the Hall itself. You flunk three out of six, and you don’t get my vote. That goes for anyone.

    So if Ozzie Smith or Cal Ripken, Jr. or some other star of the 1980’s admitted he used “greenies,” I’d be more than happy to sign a petition to have him removed from the Hall. Speaking of which, do you have a link to any stories, anecdotal or concrete, first hand or second, detailing “greenie” use in the 1980’s, tripleshy?

    in reply to: Houston Astros Stealing Signs #114405
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    “Why do the people who most strongly vilify steroid users also pretend that rampant amphetamine use in the early 80’s and before was no big deal?”

    I think maybe I can answer this one.

    All of the amphetamine stories I have read — like “greenies” on the clubhouse training tables — involved players like Mickey Mantle back in the days before illegal drug use in baseball was explicitly banned. (Violations of state and federal drug laws were banned in MLB by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in April, 1971. That was MLB’s first binding drug policy.)

    Any major league ballplayers who used amphetamines after Kuhn issued his Drug Policy Memo in April, 1971, should absolutely be vilified. Because they were violating a binding drug policy.

    Any ballplayer who used “greenies” prior to Kuhn’s Drug Policy Memo was NOT violating MLB rules, and thus they get no criticism from me.

    in reply to: Houston Astros Stealing Signs #114369
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    New England Patriots: Unethical and unsportsmanlike.
    Houston Astros: Unethical and unsportsmanlike.
    Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod, McGwire, Big Papi, Manny Ramirez: Unethical, unsportsmanlike, and illegal.

    Public opinions.
    Patriots: Best pro football dynasty ever, best head coach in NFL history.
    Astros: Cheating jerks who should be punished as harshly as possible.
    Steroid boys: Roaring successes. Let’s bestow upon them the highest possible honor in their sport.

    Makes for a fascinating study in psychology — or abnormal psychology as the case may be.

    in reply to: Minor league thread – Mon 9/2 #105000
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    Which “mainstream prospect pundits”?
    I am not aware of other lists that have been updated since last off-season, which is in effect, are a year old now.

    That’s a fair question, Brian.
    Baseball Prospectus had their most recent updated list in July. They rated Gorman 14th and Carlson 38th.

    The Fangraphs Big Board (apologies to Dr. Strangelove) has been updated more or less continually over the past few months, and just in the last two weeks they suddenly moved Dylan Carlson from the stubborn, inexplicable, idiotic, and corrupt obscurity of a barely-top-100 ranking allllll the way to #42. But that’s still behind Nolan Gorman, at #34.

    And I think that periodically Keith Law has at least obliquely alluded to their current rankings in his chats, and rates Gorman the better prospect. Or he did as of a few weeks back, I’m fairly certain. But that’s partly my piecing together the rankings puzzle on my own.

    So that’s the stuff upon which my remark was founded. In any case I’m off for vacation, so no more know-it-all banter from me for awhile. (You’re welcome.)

    in reply to: Minor league thread – Mon 9/2 #104953
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    “Booyah, yes he is. For the prospect rankings this offseason, it is going to be a toss up to the 1A and 1B prospects in the system.”

    A toss-up indeed, ChiTown. And I have to sheepishly side with the mainstream prospect pundits and still prefer Gorman to Carlson, by a slender margin. (For me Gorman goes in the 12-15 range, Carlson 15-20.)

    Nolan’s my choice for two reasons. First, based on available public metrics and the eye test, Gorman in the long run may be a well above average MLB gloveman at third base, and thus significantly more valuable defensively than corner outfielder Carlson. And two, Gorman may be — just may be — much further along as a batter than it appears at first glance; and he already looks pretty good, with a 128 wRC+ in Low-A and 117 in High-A during his tender age 18/19 season. But why might he be much better than those numbers imply?

    Here’s the thing. Sometimes very young minor league hitters quite understandably have some trouble maintaining their concentration in low leverage situations. (In my experience, this is a weakness they almost invariably outgrow over time.) And Nolan Gorman’s 2019 season, across both Peoria and Palm Beach, may be a prime example of this phenomenon. Combining the two levels he hit a dismal .192/.280/.341 with the bases empty this year (286 plate appearances). But with anybody on base Gorman absolutely crushed the ball to the tune of .318/.385/.562 (226 PA’s).

    Those sample sizes are sufficient to be at least somewhat meaningful, especially given the massive performance gulf of over 300 OPS points between the two. And in my opinion IF those men-on-base numbers are his true current ability, Nolan’s the #2 prospect in all of baseball, and not all that far behind Wander Franco.

    in reply to: Arozarena to be promoted #103637
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    Maybe this should be a thread of its own, but anyway I’d like to view Randy Arozarena through the prism so to speak of two other Cardinals who also never came close to anyone’s top 100 prospect list, but went on to MLB careers of some value.

    Rather than immediately revealing who each player is, I’d like to first do a side-by-side-by-side comparison of the three, from High-A and on up.

    Player A was 22 in High-A and posted 127 wRC+ over 285 plate appearances.
    Player B was also 22, and he put up a 146 wRC+ in 468 PA’s.
    Player C was also 22 at Palm Beach, with a 134 wRC+ in 295 PA’s.

    (I’ll get to the plate discipline markers later, but for the entirety of their minor league careers their BB/K/AB ratios are so similar from one guy to the next that it’s not for fretting over.)

    Player A competed in Double-A across parts of four seasons, age 22-25, with a cumulative 144 wRC+.
    Player B was in Double-A at ages 22 and 23, and posted a 131 wRC+.
    Player C spent time in Double-A at ages 22-24, with a 149 wRC+. (Each batter had 400-600 total PA’s in Double-A.)

    So to this point I’d say that Player A is pulling up the rear a bit. He wasn’t quite as strong in High-A as the others, and needed the most years of anyone in Double-A. Player B was clearly best at Palm Beach, but C surpassed him by a chunk at Springfield — albeit Player C did get some time in Springfield at age 24, which B did not. So for me it’s a pretty close call as to who’s got the top performance pedigree at this point. In any case, on to Memphis.

    ——————————-

    Player A had a very fine 132 wRC+ in Triple-A, but was 26 at the time.
    Player B at age 24 posted an excellent 140 wRC+ for Memphis.
    Player C spent the bulk of his age 24 season in Triple-A, and had a tremendous 153 wRC+.

    (As mentioned before, their minor league career plate discipline markers are extremely similar, with A accruing a .43 BB/K ratio, player B posting a .52 ratio, and C logging a .46 BB/K tally. Realy not worth quibbling about the advantage for B. It’s real, but not remotely spectacular.)

    So let’s take the two players with lengthy MLB experience and see how well their minor league performances foreshadowed their major league careers.

    From High-A to Triple-A, Player A had a wRC+ that ranged from 127 to 144 and averaged 134. And in his best 3-year major league stretch, he posted a cumulative 132 wRC+. You can’t get any closer than that.

    From High-A to Triple-A, player B’s wRC+ was just a hair better, ranging from 131 to 146 and averaging 139. In the majors? During his 3-year peak he had a collective 139 wRC+. So I was wrong. You could get closer.

    Player C is obviously Arozarena, as there’s no MLB 3-year peak to report. But from Palm Beach to Memphis, his wRC+ numbers were best of all, ranging from 134 in High-A to 153 currently in Triple-A, and he averaged a robust 145. Now I’m not saying that Randy’s hitting skills will transfer as readily as his predecessors’ did. But imagine if he just comes anywhere close. We could be looking at a 3-4 win player in his prime. (Of course, first he’d need a manager who “has his back.”)

    Oh, I almost forgot. Player A is Tommy Pham by the way, and B is Allen Craig. Pretty good company.

    in reply to: Carlson promoted #103511
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    Sooner said:
    “I’m not advocating bringing Carlson up because I don’t know who to sit but I suspect the Cardinals management are agonizing over the decision. I think they would have to sit Bader….”

    And I agree. Carlson and Bader would be the moving parts in this equation. Marcell Ozuna is something of a lineup anchor, and we know Shildt has an inexplicable mental block when it comes to Fowler (and anyway, Delicate Dexter’s hit very well of late) and an equally oddball myopic view of Harry Bader in the other direction. So Shildt might easily be convinced by the front office that Dangerous Dylan Carlson is ready to play and start in The Show — at least on a trial basis.

    As much as I want Bader to start every day in center field for the next 4 or 5 years, IF come September 1st Carlson is still killing the horsehide and IF Bader is just muddling through at the plate, I wouldn’t mind if Harry were switched to a high-leverage fielder and pinch-runner for a week (or two) while Carlson tests the MLB waters.

    in reply to: Carlson promoted #103435
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    Angel Rondon innings, by year:

    2016: 42
    2017: 57 1/3
    2018: 88
    2019: 151

    Call me Mr. Cautious, but I say that for safety’s sake, Rondon should probably have been shut down weeks ago, when he crossed the 125 inning line or so. I hope to heaven that the organization isn’t considering the Arizona Fall League for Angel. Enormous 21-year-old Johan Oviedo on the other hand has only thrown 134 innings this year, after 122 in 2018. He’d be a natural fit, to me. Or perhaps 20-year-old Alvaro Seijas, as he’s kinda sorta proved himself in the Florida State League, and has thrown no more innings than he did last year. Well, 1/3 of an inning more.

    As for the noble subject of this thread, I can’t see Carlson going. The AFL is pretty much unanimously rated equivalent to a AA hitter’s league, and Dylan certainly has nothing to prove at that level. And maybe nothing to prove in AAA either, by the looks of it.

    I’m deeply ambivalent about a Carlson September call-up. I don’t disagree with any of Brian’s points…but if Carlson’s still batting, say, .450 with a 1.300 OPS on September 1, then I think you owe it to the kid — and the MLB team — to not only call him up, but start him for a week to see what happens. Could be lightning in a bottle.

    It’s already happened this year with rookies like Yordan Alvarez and Pete Alonso and Bo Bichette and Aristides Aquino and Will Smith and no doubt others I can’t recall at this time. All-time rookie power-hitting records are being set left and right, Dylan is hotter than the Sun right now, and MLB pitchers do not know him. If and only if he’s still torching the PCL in a week, then it wouldn’t bother me a bit to bring him up, provided he gets those 25 AB’s in the first week.

    in reply to: Carlson promoted #102967
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    “On the subject of the thread, I would be interested in seeing a bit of detail on the defensive metrics you cite for Carlson this year. Not disagreeing – just interested in learning more. Thanks.”

    Sure thing, Brian. Clay Davenport and Baseball Prospectus have, to my knowledge, the only publicly available defensive values for minor leaguers. In my experience they’ve both been fairly prescient in translating to MLB defensive performance. Exceptions do happen of course. Some players get fat. (Some of them not even related to Dmitri or Delmon Young.) And some get materially better by dint of hard work.

    But generally, if they look good by the Davenport & B-Pro metrics, they’ll be good in The Show. And also the other way around. I’ve been watching the numbers for quite awhile now, and I’d place reliability at 80-85%, if not higher.

    —————————————

    So, Dylan Carlson. The Davenport tally for his center field play this season is a poor negative six runs over 87 games. The B-Pro number is even worse, at minus 12 runs. (I don’t think there’s a chance in the world that Carlson is THAT bad, even in center field. But I think he’s probably not a center fielder.)

    Still, defensive metrics have a wide variance over smallish samples — and one partial season is quite small for defensive samples. And on the bright side the Texas League managers did select Carlson as Best Defensive Outfielder in the entire league. So he’s probably doing a lot of things right…even if the voting was likely influenced by his elite batting this year.

    And speaking of Carlson, here’s a little Dylan Carlson gem from the most recent Fangraphs prospect chat (Longenhagen, 8/16). See if you can help me decipher the doubletalk & gibberish, Brian.

    redbird: Dylan Carlson is a ways down on the list for 50 FV on the Board. Is there something holding you back from being more excited? A 20-year-old with power and speed in AA seems like something to be excited about.

    1:39
    Eric A Longenhagen: IDK he was on our pre-season picks to click article, so we’ve somehow gone from the high guys on him to the low because (no offense) Cardinals fans are how they are about their own players. I don’t think his level of statistical power production matches what he’s actually capable of, but hey the baseball makes a real difference so maybe I’m wrong. We like him as a good everyday player and maybe he’ll be at the top of the 50s or even a 55 in the offseason,

    ——————————————–

    So that was Friday, when they still had Carlson ranked in the 90’s. Even though every other reputable individual or organization had moved him up weeks or months ago into the 30-50 range. Prospectus, Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, Keith Law. Everyone. Everyone but the buffoons.

    Until today, I see! Wow, must have been some weekend to alter their opinions so dramatically, huh? Now, finally, when Longenhagen & McDaniel have become an embarrassment, they at long last move Carlson up into something like the range where he belongs — he’s now 47th.

    “Cardinal fans are how they are about their players.”
    How is that an answer to why Carlson was 50 spots lower on the Fangraphs list than anywhere else in the prospect-ranking community? Because of Cardinal fans? It’s not Cardinal fans who ranked Carlson 50, 60 spots higher than Fangraphs. It’s everybody who isn’t Fangraphs.

    I’ve got one finger for Longenhagen. As a Cardinal fan, a baseball fan, and a person who respects intellectual honesty and integrity. You’re number one, Longenhagen. Well, it’s a joint number one for you and your Fangraphs partner in imbecility.

    No offense.

    in reply to: Carlson promoted #102859
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    “When you’re hitting .152 over a multiple month stretch, there’s pretty much no level of defense that can save your playing time.”

    Rather than just looking at Bader, and solely by batting average, let’s look at the numbers of two similar Cardinal players by OPS instead of batting average, since part of my diatribe was specifically about some folks fixating on the latter to the detriment of the team.

    If a player did hit .152 over, say, 175-200 AB’s of consistent playing time, then I’d agree with you, Card25. But that’s not at all what happened with Bader.

    On June 13, Harrison Bader went 3-for-4 to lift his OPS to an excellent .817, despite a mediocre .245 batting average. With his great glovework, that would basically put him on pace for roughly a 5-6 WAR season. Something like that. So at that point, on the morning of June 14, any competent manager would theoretically be thinking of Bader as a BIG part of the baseball team, a no-doubt starter all the way.

    Then Harry went ice cold for three weeks, was promptly benched, and then played so rarely (seven starts from July 6th-28th, and just 16 AB’s from the 17th-28th) that he had to be sent to the minors just to get regular playing time. Now let’s look at someone else on the 2019 Redbirds.

    You want a very, very long cold streak? Try Kolten Wong. From April 19-July 4, Kolten batted .204/.273/.284. That’s a dreadful .557 OPS for two and a half months. But the manager wisely stuck with him — because the manager understood that Wong provides a lot of value even when he isn’t hitting. And moreover the manager understood that Wong was a much better batter than he was showing. The manager stuck with Wong and was eventually rewarded when Kolten got back to being the solid hitter he is.

    And that’s EXACTLY what a competent manager would have done with Bader. Use the defense, wait for the offense to come back. Because of course it will come back. Because he’s never been a bad hitter, and often been an excellent one.

    Entering the season, Wong and Bader were remarkably similar players, and batters. Basically, league average hitters who play great defense. Bader had in fact been the slightly better hitter pre-2019. But then, Wong had the longer track record. Anyway, the manager managed one player correctly and one incorrectly. Replacing Bader with natural bench players like Jose Martinez, and Yairo Munoz, and Tommy Edman was a blunder that could well cost the team a playoff spot this year. As we all know, sometimes a game or two makes a big, big difference.

    Last word on Bader. Remember how some people back in March said Carson Kelly wouldn’t hit MLB pitching, and they based it on a handful of sporadic at-bats? And now Kelly is getting more playing time, and Voila!, he’s doing what some of us knew he’d do all along, if not better. Well, that’s Bader. Let him play, and he will hit. (Not like Carson’s hitting. But he’ll hit okay.)

    “Bob, I am curious how you classify Tommy Edman, the semi-regular right fielder currently?”

    Could be a switch-hitting Greg Garcia with more speed and defensive versatility. A Zobrist Lite if you will. Real, real nice bench guy who might keep adding more pop, and be a 2-3 WAR starter somewhere. Should probably be the starting third baseman right now, or at least sharing with Carpenter.

    But there’s no way Tommy Edman — or Jose Martinez or Dexter Fowler or Yairo Munoz — should be playing in the outfield in place of Harry Bader. Only a poor manager does that. By the by, a 2020 bench of Edman, Munoz, Arozarena, Lane Thomas, and Andrew Knizner looks pretty darn good to me. Of course, that means dropping Fowler and Martinez, and not re-signing Wieters or of course Ozuna. (If you’re the Cards, you simply can’t pay star money to a merely solid regular like Ozuna — especially when you’ve got a multitude of potential solid regulars, and maybe even a start or two, already in the organization at the upper levels.)

    in reply to: Carlson promoted #102755
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    “From folks that have been fortunate enough to see him in person, what does the eye test say about Carlson in CF? Is that a possibility or is he likely a corner guy?”

    I’ll bite, ChiTown. Saw him in Peoria when he was just an 18-year-old colt, so Dylan’s abilities could have evolved. But at the time (and even as recently as 2019 Spring Training) I would not have bet on his ever being a regular MLB center fielder unless you gave me at least, say, 7-1 odds. Wouldn’t have truly embraced the wager without 10-1 or better.

    There was nothing wrong with him, no slow first step like Fowler or giraffe-on-roller-skates effect like a certain overused right fielder we all know. But Carlson just wasn’t a burner, wasn’t a center field profile as the cool kids say. Nothing remotely like Bader for example. And in fact, the defensive metrics at both Baseball Prospectus and Clay Davenport scream out loud and clear that Carlson was far below average in center field for Springfield this year.

    I’m pretty sure Dylan could be a real asset in a corner, however, and anyway Harry Bader should be playing every single day under the Arch of course, as he’s a ~3.0 WAR player even if he hits .220. Unfortunately some managers (and we fans) tend to fixate counterproductively on batting averages and strikeouts, rather than seeing players as a whole — which is not merely a different way to see them, but the only wise way to see them, the only way that works for optimizing wins.

    (I’m allowing myself the latitude to rant about Bader, since through some extraordinary idiocy he has somehow been made a minor leaguer again. That’s the same Bader who’s been worth 3.7 WAR per 600 plate appearances at the MLB level for his young career — averaging the Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs values.) Any individual or organization that explicitly or implicitly says, “We’re starting our three best-hitting outfielders, regardless of defense and baserunning,” is stupid and doomed. And unworthy of our support as fans.

    in reply to: Minor league thread – Tue 8/13 #102014
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    What a great subject for investigation. Thanks for prompting it, ChiTown. And for the research, CJ.

    I’m pretty sure the last Texas Leaguer age 20 or younger to post a 20/20 season was Gregg Jefferies, back in 1987. Jefferies, just 19 at the time, popped 20 homers and pilfered 26 bases, which ranked him 11th and 7th in the league, respectively. Best stat? He had 48 doubles.

    In the Southern League, 19-year-old Delmon Young had a 20/25 season in 2005 — and in just 84 games! (That exclamation point was brought to you courtesy of Pugs.)

    In the Eastern League you have to go back to 1993 when Cliff Floyd recorded his amazing 26/31 season in just 101 games. He was 20, and he was gonna be Frank Thomas, but with speed. If you don’t already know what happened to him, don’t look it up. Kinda gruesome.

    Before anyone inquires, I got my information by asking both Alexa and Siri. Told them whichever was fastest with the answers would win a set of steak knives. Loser gets tossed in a dumpster.

    in reply to: Budaska fired #101881
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    You’ve misrepresented me just a teeny bit there, Pugs. I would never deploy an exclamation point where I’ve already wielded faux profanity. Exclamation points oughtta be used quite sparingly, as eloquently illustrated in this training film on punctuation:

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    No doubt in my mind that it’s the primary reason, gscott.

    When the bats are bad, that’s it. There is no secondary effect whatsoever.
    But when starting pitching is bad, it creates a nasty domino effect where the relievers get pressed into service too much, and then they can get overworked and ineffective, or even injured. Happened with Jesus Cruz, and it’s about to happen with Junior Fernandez if the big club isn’t very careful. (A workload of 15 innings per month is awfully, awfully heavy for a 22-year-old bullpen arm. Too heavy I’d say.)

    And also, the boring counterintuitive truth is that farm system winning percentage doesn’t always correlate neatly with the number of top prospects — and it’s chiefly the top 150-200 types who drive the farm system value. Not infrequently it’s big seasons from overage non-prospects that help push a minor league nine over the top, rather than seasons like Dylan Carlson is having now.

    And speaking of him, isn’t Carlson/Springfield a microcosm of what we’re talking about? Springfield’s having a bad year. They have the second-worst record in their league — and the best individual player in their league. They’re a bad team because they have the worst ERA in the league, and it isn’t close. Even if Elehuris Montero were hitting like Carlson, they’d still be a sub-.500 team because of the sub-mediocre moundsmen. And it’s like that all over the system.

    Also, regarding your earlier remarks about the competence of the Cardinal front office: I wouldn’t exactly say that I question their competence. With today’s firing of Mark Budaska I’m absolutely certain they have none.

    The farm system is in good shape not great shape, and at the MLB level, from the three-years-of-ineptness front office to the incredible dullard in the dugout, they’ve become a laughingstock of directionless incoherence. I can’t wait until the minor league season is over so I don’t have to report about/think about this organization any more.

    The thing of it is, it does not matter one jot how good or great are the position players & pitchers you develop, if you trade them away for next to nothing — or retain them and fail to play them.

    in reply to: Budaska fired #101851
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    Last year with John Mabry as hitting coach: 4.4 runs per game.

    Last year with Mark Budaska and George Greer as hitting coaches: 5.1 runs per game.

    This year with Jeff Albert as hitting coach: 4.5 runs per game.

    It’s official. I have now given up on this front office, and this organization as a whole. Managers, coaches, players. They cannot identify the difference between a failure and a success. (Bleep) them.

    in reply to: Minor league thread – Sun 8/11 #101765
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    The Memphis Birds were on the road Sunday and received homers from infielders Edmundo Sosa and Ramon Urias. So this seems as good a time and place as any to mention their respective home/road splits this year. (Memphis, as I’m sure everyone here knows, is a pretty significant pitcher’s park. At least when you compare it to the vast majority of the Pacific Coast League stadiums.)

    Edmundo Sosa now has a cool .900 OPS away from AutoZone Park this year, which is 232 points above his home OPS. And it’s critical to note that his road numbers have NOT been padded by the hitter-happy havens of the PCL. Specifically, Edmundo has played zero games in Vegas, Albuquerque, El Paso, and Salt Lake City.

    The 23-year-old shortstop has played four games in Omaha, typically a good hitting park, and four more in the fairly notorious Reno stadium. And that’s it. That’s the only games in anything like a severe hitter’s park for Sosa. (In those 8 games by the way he batted .447 and slugged .684.)

    Ramon Urias on the other hand has a road OPS that’s 302 points above his home total (.945 to .643). Urias has also played no games in El Paso, Albu-Q, Salt Lake, or Vegas. He does have three AB’s in Reno. “Three AB’s in Reno.” Sounds like a bad Ry Cooder/Terry Cashman collaboration.

    So these middle infielders probably warrant more attention than they’ve received this year. Some guys really are hurt by their home park more than others. It was true of Tommy Pham in the minors, it was true of Gorman & Herrera in Peoria this year, it’s been true of Harry Bader in the majors — I’d tell you the Bader Home/Road career splits, but you wouldn’t believe me — and it certainly seems to be true for this duo at Memphis. (I strongly suspect that with Bader it’s actually a case of David Wright Syndrome, but that’s a story for another day.)

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    Thank you one and all for the extravagantly generous sentiments.
    Glibness aside, I confess your words moved me just a little bit. Gracias.

    So anyway. Having had a few days to reflect and re-evaluate, I have a handful of names to add to the StL prospect list. And some math to put the farm system into its proper industry-wide context. The additions are:

    Catcher Jose Godoy, top 900.
    Jose is a solid defensive catcher according to Baseball Prospectus’ metrics, and a downright elite one per Clay Davenport’s numbers. Davenport projects him as a 2.5 WAR backstop in his prime, if not a hair better. In other words, Godoy — who turns 25 in two months — figures to be a very good MLB backup for awhile if given the opportunity, or maybe even a viable starter for a year or two at some point. However, the Redbirds themselves have never prioritized playing time for Jose, which makes me think that “good backup” is his ceiling. He’d be a top 400 were he a year younger.

    Outfielder Johan Mieses, top 900.
    One of the more up-and-down hitting profiles you’ll find anyplace. Davenport and B-Pro both like the glovework, and Davenport’s projection model thinks the power is pretty darn real. Mieses is neither young nor old, having just turned 24 a month ago, but he might be in one of the 3 or 4 farm systems deepest with future MLB outfielders, so I doubt his career will start under the Arch. Either way, top 900 is quite cautious for someone projected at 2.5 WAR in his prime by Clay Davenport.

    Pitcher Yordy Richard, top 1,200.
    This 16-year-old righty has a 4.81 ERA in a pitcher’s league, but here’s the rest of the story. (Apologies to Paul Harvey, who doubtless just spun in his grave.) In his first three Dominican Summer League appearances, Yordy Richard permitted 13 earned runs across just 9 innings. He whiffed 10 (good!) and walked 10 (not good at all!). But over his next seven outings, he’s been a new man. Well, a new kid. He’s twirled 30 innings and allowed just 8 earned runs, with a solid 26-to-7 K/BB ratio. For me that’s enough to easily make a top 1,000 list, much less a top 1,200. Anyone wants to make him a top 900, I wouldn’t debate the point.

    Third baseman Brandon Hernandez, top 1,200.
    The 17-year-old Hernandez began his season 6-for-40 with 19 strikeouts in 11 games (ugh) and zero extra base hits. But he has turned things around beautifully. In the next 25 games, he fanned just 20 times, drew 15 walks, and batted ~.320/.430/.470, which is very, very good for the DSL. His numbers don’t dazzle at a glance, but Hernandez has been excellent for awhile now, and that’s enough to get on the end of a massive top 1,200 list.

    Second sacker Brendan Donovan, top 1,200.
    This one I could be talked out of, frankly. Donovan is two years too old for the Midwest League, and if his own organization thought much of him he’d already have been promoted to High-A. But facts are facts, and he’s been real good at the dish this year (wRC+ of 136) and just as importantly for overage prospects like Brendan, he’s shown a sturdy BB/K tally. Neither B-Pro nor Davenport like his fielding, so I don’t see utilityman in his future. But hey, surprises can happen — and after all, I’m talking top 1,200 not top 200. Old guys with good plate discipline account for many of baseball’s better late bloomers, so I’ll give Brendan a seat at the very back of my list.

    Catcher Aaron Antonini, top 1,200.
    And speaking of older prospects with admirable plate discipline…Antonini, a native Venezuelan taken in the 18th round out of Middle Tennessee State this year, is a 21-year-old batting .256 in the Appalachian League. So why on Earth would he make a list that excludes Griffin Roberts, Luken Baker, Delvin Perez and Seth Elledge, et. al.? Well, first Antonini very recently had a birthday. Therefore it’s actually his age 20 season, which means he’s effectively just one year too old for his league rather than two. And second, that aforementioned strikezone control. You see, AA is hitting .256/.396/.651 and has 9 walks to just 5 strikeouts in 53 trips to the plate. It’s rookieball, I realize. And he’s old, I know. But there’s clear evidence of the things we want to see: patience, power, contact. So there’s upside there, particularly if he can keep catching. Okay, to be blunt he’ll likely flatline at Peoria next year. But for the present he’s a mildly intriguing longshot of a prospect.

    —————————————————

    So now the math. Using my prospect grades, and applying the dollar values for prospects provided by Fangraphs, the St. Louis Cardinal farm system has a paltry $37M worth of pitching prospects, which is pretty bad. Glancing at the Fangraphs table, Redbird arms would rank approximately in the 22-25 range, I’d say. But the good news is the Cardinals also have $262M worth of position players, a total which would trail only the Big Two farm systems of San Diego and Tampa Bay. (The Friars and Devil Rays really are easily the two strongest farm systems right now. No one else comes within shouting distance.)

    The Redbird overall grand total then is $299M. This would rank them 4th in minor league monetary value behind only the two juggernauts and the Dodgers. But since the Cards are so severely imbalanced down on the farm in terms of hitters/pitchers, there are some other organizations whose more balanced farm systems I’d prefer even if their total value doesn’t quite match that of the Baby Birds. (Atlanta, Minnesota, and Miami spring immediately to mind.)

    In any case, I’d have to do a deep dive investigation of other farms to parse the rankings precisely — and moreover, I’d need to figure out who’s going to lose prospect eligibility by Labor Day on top of it. (And I don’t even know that about Cardinal guys like Tommy Edman or Lane Thomas for example.) But now that the numbers are crunched, folded, spindled, and mutilated, I’m more comfortable than ever in saying that the Cards have a top 8-10 farm system, and maybe a touch better. Certainly and absolutely no worse.

    Brian provided this link earlier, but I see no reason not to do so again here. This will keep everyone, including my lazy self, from having to scroll up and search for it. This is the total farm system values for all franchises, and how Fangraphs arrived at the numbers, prospect-by-prospect:

    https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/the-board/2019-in-season-prospect-list/farm-ranking?sort=-1,1&type=100

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    Thanks for all the feedback and kind words, folks! Thanks especially, Ny, for the copious Rondon info. (Of course we jinxed him tonight. That’s baseball.)

    Now, I hadn’t intended to make this thread a referendum on Angel Rondon per se. (Can a person hijack their own thread?) My noble goal was to peevishly excoriate the buffoons at Fangraphs — with supporting evidence — and place the StL farm system into it’s proper position among all franchises. So let’s do that.

    Below are the corrected Cardinal prospect grades. My grades, but using the Fangraphs numbering system. I’ve included the ranking range for each group of prospects, along with the numerical grade. To be clear, the ranking range numbers reflect how many prospects were given each grade by the buffoons.

    So, if I think Tommy Edman and Edmundo Sosa are roughly the 200th-best prospects in the minors, they would be assigned a grade 45 since Fangraphs graded 156 players at 45+ or better, and 132 prospects at exactly grade 45.

    (The players within each group are NOT listed in any particular order within said group. Well, except it’s hitters before pitchers. Also, the twirlers are italicized.)

    Grade 55 (rank between 16 and 44 overall): N. Gorman, D. Carlson

    Grade 50 (rank between 45 and 121): A. Knizner, I. Herrera, E. Montero

    Grade 45+ (between 122 and 156): M. Nunez, A. Rondon

    Grade 45 (between 157 and 288): T. Edman, E. Sosa, L. Thomas, J. Rodriguez, J. Torres, R. Arozarena, R. Helsley, J. Woodford, J. Oviedo

    Grade 40+ (between 289 and 406): C. Soto, R. Urias, P. Pages, P. Romeri, J. Fernandez, Z. Thompson, C. Thomas

    Grade 40 (between 407 and 902): J. Williams, L. Nootbaar, J. Yepez, T. Fletcher, M. Castillo, R. Heredia, R. Mendoza, J. De Los Santos, M. Gil, T. Fuller, T. Parsons, J. Ralston, A. Fagalde, K. Whitley, A. Pallante, G. Cabrera, A. Seijas, L. Jimenez

    Grade 35+ (between 903 and 1,235): Diowill Burgos, Brady Whalen, Albert Inoa, Leandro Cedeno, Carlos Arcia, Parker Kelly, Angel Cuenca, Gustavo J. Rodriguez

    Fangraphs rated at least 15 Cardinals higher than I did. I know it’s at least 15, because I excluded from my rankings 15 individuals who made the Fangraphs list, including the Cannabis Card, Griffin Roberts. (An honorary title inherited from Alex Reyes.) Also omitted from my list were noteworthies such as Jose Adolis Garcia, Luken Baker, and Stephen Gingery. I welcome any objections to my omissions as long as they’re relatively civil and include a vile anti-Cub remark.

    I didn’t bother to closely check the rest of the Redbird Fangraphs grades; I’m sure that a substantial majority of my grades will be higher than theirs. For example I have 16 Redbirds graded 45 or better, while the buffoons have four.

    A thousand apologies to any forgotten prospects. No doubt someone or two slipped through the cracks. And Griffin? Put down the pipe, son.

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    Sorry I missed your update, Brian — or rather, your update of the Fangraphs update.

    Okay, here’s the thing. All a Cardinal fan need know about Fangraphs is they STILL do not consider Angel Rondon to be a pitching prospect. He is dead to them. They do not list him among the 600 pitching prospects assigned value grades. That’s not hyperbole. They list exactly 600 arms and he is not among them.

    To illustrate precisely how bizarre this is, how incompetent+corrupt Fangraphs is re St. Louis prospects, and this twirler specifically, let’s put Angel Rondon’s Double-A pitching performance into a context.

    Here are the slashlines permitted this year in AA by some of the very elite pitching prospects in baseball. Beside each pitcher is his age and his current Fangraphs ranking among all pitching prospects.

    Dustin May (21 years old, #3 overall pitching prospect) .237/.297/.330
    Casey Mize (22, #4 pitcher) .226/.274/.322
    Sixto Sanchez (21, #8) .231/.273/.353
    Matt Manning (21, #11) .198/.264/.296
    Ian Anderson (21, #13) .202/.285/.296
    Angel Rondon (21, not top 600) .228/.309/.320

    As a blind man could see, these six are awfully, awfully similar in both age and AA pitching performance. And yet, with the myriad updates always going on with Fangraphs’ vaunted board, they haven’t found any room for poor Angel Rondon — who’s allowed one earned run or less in six of his past seven starts by the way. A few weeks back they (Fangraphs) finally at long last woke up and moved Ivan Herrera from 33rd to 8th in the organization. But still, no Rondon any place. And Dylan Carlson still juuust barely within their top 100 overall prospects, by the way. That cannot happen unless they’re idiots, corrupt, or both.

    I bet I know what you’re thinking, but there are no serious red flags for Rondon. There just aren’t. His velocity is already fine, with room for extra. (MLB pipeline’s recent update remarked that “he generates easy velocity, sitting 92-94 mph and bumping 95 in most outings, and is a candidate to add a few more ticks based on his remaining physical projection.”)

    He has no serious injuries much less arm surgeries in his past.
    He’s succeeded at every single level and never been old for his league.
    He isn’t a little guy, nothing like that. He’s listed at 6′ 2″ and 185, same as Jordan Hicks.
    He has no conditioning or other work ethic/personality questions.
    And finally he gets out lefties as well as righties.

    In fact, that last bullet point is real important. Because in 2018, Rondon actually DID have trouble with lefty hitters, permitting them a borderline unacceptable slashline of .259/.325/.427. But this year has been a different story.

    Righty Rondon has faced 269 lefty batters in 2019 and allowed them to slug .237.
    That’s not a typo, and that’s not a batting average line. Seriously, that’s slugging. That’s lefty slugging, permitted by a righty starting pitcher. Rondon across two levels has allowed lefties to hit .190/.291/.237. In Double-A they’ve slugged .286. So I’m guessing it’s fair to assume that Rondon’s changeup has probably taken a significant step forward this year.

    But honestly, the why is almost entirely irrelevant. What’s important is that Angel Rodon is a 21-year-old pro ballplayer enjoying conspicuous success in AA, with zero red flags either this year or in his professional track record. Therefore that makes him a good-or-better prospect. At least a top 200-250 overall prospect, regardless of repertoire. And in his specific case, knowing his details, I’d have him crowding the top 100 — especially if he finishes the season strongly.

    Oh, and the Cardinals are in the 8-10 range among all farm systems. Could maybe be one or two higher or lower than that, I suppose. I’d have to look closely at who has lost rookie eligibility lately, and who was traded.

    in reply to: Minor league thread – Thu 8/1 #100586
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    “Jimenez came over from the GCL team and started the Palm Beach game. His current age? 17!!!!”

    Yeah, I couldn’t help noticing that too, CC. Held his own for four innings on top of it.

    While I’m sure the Palm Beach outing is purely a stopgap/convenience thing (not unlike 18-year-old backstop Ivan Herrera’s very, very, very brief Springfield stint last year), I wonder now if they’ll start Jimenez in Peoria next year. I was planning on seeing him there in 2021 when he’d still be a teenager, but maybe the timetable will be more aggressive. We’ll see.

    in reply to: Minor league thread – Wed 7/17 #98320
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    Favorite oddball Carlson stat:
    This year he’s batting .290 and slugging .500 when behind in the count. It’s only 124 at-bats, and I have zero idea whether or not this has any predictive value whatsoever. But I love it anyway.

    For a little context, here are some other highly rated outfield prospects and their 2019 behind-in-the-count batting averages/slugging percentages:

    Drew Waters .245 and .340
    Jo Adell .200 and .343
    Cristian Pache .220 and .390
    Alex Kirillof .151 and .221
    Taylor Trammell .160 and .213
    Jarred Kelenic .186 and .309
    Jesus Sanchez .214 and .262

    All of this might mean nothing. Last year Fernando Tatis Jr. in AA hit .176 and slugged .272, but this year you certainly can’t say that major league pitchers are exploiting the kid, can you?

    Dylan Carlson has been generally credited with having a “mature, professional approach” at the plate, so maybe his extraordinary numbers reflect that to some degree. Or maybe it’s all noise, no signal.

    But it’s still fun.

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First-hand news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals™ and their minor league system for 20 years