GRB Exclusive Content: Answering Your Questions!

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Fat Strat
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GRB Exclusive Content: Answering Your Questions!

Post by Fat Strat »

Morning everyone! For my last piece at Gateway on this side of Christmas, I thought I might try to answer a few of the questions that you all asked in this thread. I probably won’t be able to give any of the questions the research they deserve, but there were some good ones that I thought deserved some of my thought and time. That said, I’ll not waste space with commentary! On to the questions.

The first is from mikechamp: Since there might be a lot of free agents/non-tenders on the market, maybe a Top 5 or 10 buy-low, one-year-deal FA targets?
I addressed some of this in my article on the DFAs who were cut before the non-tender deadline. I also gave it a deeper look in this article over at Viva El Birdos. After reflecting on this question a little and watching the market through the Winter Meetings, let me give you my top “cheap” signings for the Cardinals:

1. Joc Pederson
2. Jurickson Profar
3. Eddie Rosario
4. Tommy LaStella
5. Kyle Schwarber

That’s one everyday outfielder (Rosario), two platoon outfielders with huge power, and two platoon/utility style infielders who could start. Pederson gets top billing here primarily because of his power potential and relative youth, but they are all pretty close. The best version of the Cardinals outfield in 2021 includes Carlson playing every day, Bader’s exposure against tough righties limited, and everyone else platooned. Pederson forces all of those issues.

The Cards really can’t settle for just an outfielder, though. They have to get someone who can push Carpenter out of a regular starting role, while also providing depth around the infield as needed. Profar and LaStella fit well here. I think everyone on this list could be had for a one-year deal under $10M.

Heyzeus: I'd like to know who really was Moxie.
Someone from the original class of mods needs to spill the beans at some point. I’m pretty sure I remember the answer or perhaps (ahem) answers, but it’s not my place to say. I’ve already given you more than I should.

AWvsCBsteeeerike3: what teams in the past however many years are comparable to the Cardinals in that they seemingly can hold their own in mlb but have few superstars producing at superstar level but also have not that many pure scrubs on the team.
I originally pointed Beerstrike in the direction of JL and some of the work he’s done at Viva El Birdos. I can’t remember the exact article (heck, it might have been a conversation and not a piece...) but this is the best I could find and it’s not the right one.

Basically, the Cardinals were unique in the ability to continue to contend without having “stars”. The roster was filled with 2-4 fWAR players who were legitimate starters and capable players. That kind of top-to-bottom depth kept the Cardinals from tanking but also kept them from excelling.
Here’s the problem – and it’s one that goes beyond AW’s question. This old model of the Cardinals – solid players but no stars – is simply not true anymore. They lack the “solid players” that formed the boring backbone of Cardinals production for half a decade. Goldschmidt and Flaherty might fit into the “star” category. Besides those two, who else is a legitimate “solid” starter in the Cardinals' offense? Rotation? As of today, Paul DeJong and Miles Mikolas are the only two other players and Mikolas just missed a full season. Everyone else is a reliever, unproven, in massive decline, best viewed as a platoon player, or slides in below the 2-4 WAR threshold. Sure, players like Tommy Edman, Dylan Carlson, Kwang-Hyun Kim, Wainwright, and Molina might end up in the 2-4 range, but there is no guarantee with any of them. But “might” is a long way from the “certain” that the Cardinals could count on during their extended run of 85+ wins.

That’s a long-winded way of saying that the problem with the Cardinals is not that they are boring. They’re boring because they’re bad. If a team with a roster full of 2-4 WAR players sits in the 85-90 win range, where does a team with a roster full of near-replacement level platoon players sit? Fangraphs thinks it's about 77.5 wins, that’s where.

St.lewis11: An analysis with several factors, such as the "facing 3 batters' rule, the analytics, & how much more front office influences over on-field management.
Let’s take the 3-batter rule first. The Cardinals both planned for this and had the right roster to take advantage of the new rule. In 2020, Shildt made spectacular usage of young relievers who were capable of going multiple innings while facing both righties and lefties. Austin Gomber, Ponce de Leon, Alex Reyes, Genesis Cabrera, and Ryan Helsley all fit that mold well. Shildt frequently threw these pitchers for multiple innings at a time. That also allowed him to mix in a player like Tyler Webb – who is more vulnerable to splits – without too much risk. Bullpen care and usage is one of the coaching staff’s strengths. It’s easy to pick decisions apart game-by-game, but overall, he does a great job managing the pen.

How much does the front office influence on-field management? The answer is A TON but I’m not sure that’s a conflict with Shildt and his staff. A great example of this is Carlson. When Carlson was up, he played. That’s a front office dictation to the coaching staff. It was probably also a front office decision to send him back down when he scuffled. The danger here is assuming that since the front office influences decisions, that Shildt and co. aren’t consulted or in agreement. That does not appear to be at all true. The front office and the coaching staff develop strategic plans as an organization and all sides rely on each other to execute those plans. Shildt relies on the front office to give him the players he needs to execute their plan. The front office relies on Shildt to play the players according to the plan. Performance, variance, injury, etc. can throw a wrench in that, but if the two units – front office management and on-the-field management weren’t working in harmony, DeWitt would step in. So far communication between Shildt and Mozeliak’s staff seems to be pretty good. Much better than Matheny’s and LaRussa’s.

Jocephus: how many years has it been jeff alberts vision? is it helping?
This was the second year for the Cardinals under Albert. Is it helping? That’s such a hard question to answer. It’s easy to point to the offensive decline of the Cardinals batters over this time and place the blame on Albert. That seems patently unfair to me. The Cardinals hitters aren’t good. Some of them have major flaws. Some are old and declining. No one could do much with some of these guys.

I have seen some improvements that I think Albert should get credit for. Bader’s 2020 season, his improved walk rate, and his step-by-step improvement against breaking balls is an example. O’Neill struggled mightily this season but he raised his BB rate and cut his K rate. Is it Jeff Albert’s fault that TON had a .189 BABIP? I don’t think so.

If I had to point to a few problems with Albert, it’s his inability to prepare Cardinals batters for continued extremes in pitch-types faced and his game-to-game preparation for pitchers. The Cardinals have faced some wild swings in pitch-types and it’s had a huge impact on the development of young players – including Bader and O’Neill seeing crazy high percentages of breaking pitches and then collapsing offensively, and Carlson’s offspeed troubles and corresponding collapse in his first run through the league. Similarly, the Cardinals have games where they just look lost at the plate against some very mediocre pitchers. Better planning and game-to-game coaching could improve that. Then again, maybe the hitters are just flawed and streaky! It’s so hard to evaluate a hitting coach.

Radbird: Is Knizner ready or will we need to acquire a catcher if Yadi goes elsewhere? How far away is Gorman?
Is Knizner ready? Yes and no. His defense didn’t look too bad this season. If Yadi was still above league average as a receiver, then I think Knizner was close to average. Definitely better than Wieters. He didn’t have enough PAs to evaluate his offense, but Steamer thinks that Kniz is going to be a good enough hitter as a catcher - .263/.320/.416. The problem is that the club just didn’t give him enough of a chance. It was inexplicable to me that Kniz didn’t get a longer look as Yadi’s backup, especially when it was obvious that Wieters was both injured and had nothing left with his bat. Yadi doesn’t want Kniz around. So, he wasn’t and now the club has no idea if he’s ready or not… which is exactly what Yadi wants.

I’ll deal with Gorman in my article on Carpenter that’s coming out at VEB today (Dec. 17.) The short version is that I think he should be in line to start the season at AAA and, if things go well, could be challenging for MLB time by mid-season. Gorman spent 4 months last season between Spring Training and the ATS facing talent that ranged from elite A/AA pitchers (Thompson and Liberatore) to MLB-caliber arms (Elledge and Whitely). That’s a much higher level of competition than he would have faced in a season at AA. That time and experience against advanced arms counts and should at least help him stay on schedule or maybe half a season behind his original timeline.

Pioneer98: Is the DH here to stay? If so how will that impact the Cards and NL in general?
It’s not here now but it will likely return in 2021 and it is here to stay in the next CBA. There is a lot of chatter that the Cardinals want to target a DH-type this offseason to continue to allow space for their young outfielders. There are a lot of options. It’s also a place for the club to hide Carpenter, who should not be in the field, but is (today) the odds on favorite starting 3b’man.

MLB will likely use the DH as a bargaining chip to get expanded playoffs. It’s something both MLB and the PA want but, for some reason, they will have to still negotiate with each other to get it and will likely take those negotiations down to the last minute. It’s ridiculous but that’s the current state of labor in MLB.

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Radbird
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Re: GRB Exclusive Content: Answering Your Questions!

Post by Radbird »

Fat Strat wrote:
December 16 20, 9:53 pm
Heyzeus: I'd like to know who really was Moxie.
Someone from the original class of mods needs to spill the beans at some point. I’m pretty sure I remember the answer or perhaps (ahem) answers, but it’s not my place to say. I’ve already given you more than I should.
Just a friendly reminder that your Modular NDA is still in effect. :D

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Re: GRB Exclusive Content: Answering Your Questions!

Post by Popeye_Card »

Would Profar really come that cheap? Switch-hitting, 20 HR power, decent defense that can play nearly every position on the field?

If he's cheaper than $10MM/yr., isn't that a perfect replacement for Wong? Or are we just expecting Edman to be this player for us? Profar certainly has the better pedigree.

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heyzeus
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Re: GRB Exclusive Content: Answering Your Questions!

Post by heyzeus »

Why spend money on a good player when you can put Edman out there?

About 2/3 of the MLB teams are gonna plead poverty and deliver a diminished product this year. The other 1/3 are going to scoop up solid talent for half price and will be all but unbeatable by the best of the mediocre teams. Can we be the best of the mediocre? Maybe. Catch the excitement!

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