We’re better …but are we GOOD

OK….MO cleans out the bullpen by throwing out Holland & Lyons, trading Tuivalala, surprising the medical world by finding yet another ailment , previously unknown for DL use for Brett Cecil. He brings up 3 young guns to replace them. Yippee! It’s long overdue…we will be better….but ….will we really be GOOD?
First of all, the Holland failure should NOT have been a complete shock. I wrote on April 2, the following….”Cards obtain Greg Holland to be “born again” in the 18 Card bullpen…..I wondered why his signing came so late…. Sure…. ….it’s a nice salary … but not extravagant…so why so late? After some digging….apparently, last year…coming after a year off due to arm issues… Holland was absolutely terrific through May…he struck out nearly half the batters he faced and “closed” out several wins which led to a great month for the Rockies…in June, his slide began as his command began to erode and his arm weakened. He issued walks to 18% of the batters he faced that month, surviving primarily by not giving up any home runs and running a solid .240 BABIP (batting avg on balls in play). July saw further decline while his walks dropped to 13% of the batters (slightly over 1 walk for every 9 batters) but his BABIP jumped to .280. In August, Holland’s ERA of 15.43 …says volumes and his strikeout rate dropped to 18%…..sooooo…..anytime a pitcher returning from an arm injury sags from great to horrible over a very short period of time….one has to wonder if his arm just doesn’t have it any longer”. Sooo…let’s not pat MO on the back for eradicating a transaction that should have NEVER been made for $14m…..maybe ….maybe not even $1m..well…we won’t be good if these types of transactions continue as well as some other tendencies that are occurring with regularity.
…Let’s take a look at the recent trend of the “big” winners—Cubs & Astros—for example…those teams draft hitters high in the draft…and “hit” on those picks…then they …later on…go out & buy proven pitchers….it doesn’t always work….but….it’s put these two teams deep into the playoffs in recent years.
some other considerations….
….Historically (back to 2000)…the Cards do a much better job of finding, drafting and developing pitchers…they have limited success in drafting batters…. let’s break it down….1 point at a time..
…Drafting….the 1st round of the draft for any team is crucial…..you must “hit” with some regularity on players who can develop into every-day type players with some stars along the way. In the 1st round since 2000, the Cards have been extremely weak in identifying every-day field players, or pitchers who remain with them as a winner or ANY stars with their #1 pick of the draft. Take a look at the players chosen in the 1st round for the Cards since 2000(some years more than 1 pick in 1st rnd)—
2000 Shaun Boyd –OF-NEVER made MLB ; Blake Williams-RHP – NEVER made MLB
2001 Justin Pope-RHP –NEVER made MLB 2002– no 1st round pick
2003 Daric Barton- Catcher-part of trade to Oakland for Mark Mulder-played 8 MLB seasons, never all-star, career .247batter- only two seasons that he played more than 80 games (generally a backup catcher)
2004-Chris Lambert-RHP- traded by Cards to Detroit after 3 years; MLB record –1-3
2005-Colby Rasmus—OF,10 seasons MLB ….never an all-star but did last 10 years in the MLB;
2005-Tyler Greene-SS- 5 seasons in MLB, NEVER ALL-STAR, lifetime .224 hitter; played more than 80 games once
2005-Mark McCormick-RHP – NEVER played in MLB 2005-Tyler Herron RHP – NEVER played in MLB
2006-Adam Ottavino RHP –CURRENTLY MLB-with Cards 1 year—lost in draft to Colorado-still with Rockies since 2012—has been converted to a middle reliever with some to good success
2006-Chris Perez RHP- 7 years in MLB-2 w/Cards; career record 16-24
2007-Pete Kozma -SS – Currently MLB-7th year; played 80+ games only once in career; career back-up
2007-Clay Mortensen-RHP- pitched 1 game w/Cards-5 yr in MLB; career record 6-11
2008-Brett Wallace-1B—played 6 MLB seasons-played more than 100 g in a year 2x; lifetime .238 hitter
2008-Lance Lynn –RHP—Currently in MLB-7th season; career record 79-55; 1x All-Star; Cards chose not to resign him this year—strange since he won 60 games over a 4 year period; this year @ Minnesota his WHIP has increased due to early season wildness-has 62 walks; is 2nd on the club with 7 wins-arguably our BEST First round pitcher that the Cards drafted since 2000
2009-Shelby Miller-RHP-Currently 7th year in MLB-pitched for Cards 2 seasons- was 25-18 in those 2 years; was traded to Atlanta as part of Jason Heyward deal; currently on Arizona; career record now 37-53; 0-4 this year
2010-Zack Cox-3B—played 4 games with Cards in 2010-hasn’t been in MLB since that time
2010-Seth Blair-RHP-never played in MLB
2010-Tyrell Jenkins-RHP—pitched 1 year in MLB for Atlanta was 2-4, 5.88 era…out of baseball
2011-Kolten Wong-2B-currently in 6th year with Cards- never an all star; career .251 hitter
2012-Michael Wacha-RHP-currently in 6th year with Cards- 1x all-star; was MVP of NLCS in 2013; record 53-32
2012-James Ramsey-OF NEVER MADE MLB; 2012-Stephen Piscotty-3B in draft; OF—4th MLB- career .267 batter;
2012-Patrick Wisdom-3B-NEVER in MLB-@ Memphis; 2012-Steve Bean-Catcher—NEVER in MLB- out of baseball
2013-Marco Gonzales-LHP-traded for Tyler O’Neill-4th year in MLB –currently 11-5
2013-Rob Kaminsky-LHP—traded to Cleveland- NEVER in MLB
2014-Luke Weaver & Jack Flaherty-RHP-both CURRENTLY on Cards ROSTER
2015-Nick Plummer-OF—NEVER in MLB-currently on Cards Class A team
2015-Jake Woodford-RHP -NEVER in MLB-currently on Cards Class AA team with 3-8 record
2016-Delvin Pérez-SS- NEVER in MLB- currently on Cards A- team
2016-Dylan Carlson-OF-NEVER in MLB –curently on Cards Peoria team hitting .238
2016-Dakota Hudson-RHP Just called up to MLB by Cards; 2017-2018 too early to tell..
….in summary…..our BEST 1st round choices ..since the year 2000….Colby Rasmus; Lance Lynn, Adam Ottavino, Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha & Kolton Wong….. 1 every day player that plays 5+ years and despite the numerous choices of pitchers, we have Lynn, Wacha & Shelby Miller—all good pitchers but neither Lynn or Miller made it to beyond their free agency years with the Cards…will Wacha?
…then….we hear so much about the “productive” Cards farm system…..Memphis winning championships, Springfield terrifice…soooo……maybe the Cards scouts are finding gold in the later round choices…..I’m going to gauge this in a different manner… let’s look at the number of “home grown” players have been in the “top 10” of the NL in key batting (runs, Hits, HR, RBI, Avg, OBP, OPS) or pitching stats…here are the to batters
2018 –RUNS–#5 Tommy Pham,#6 Matt Carpenter; HOME RUN-T#2 Matt Carpenter; SLUG-#4 Matt Carpenter
2017—NONE 2016-AVG-#8 Yadi Molina 2015-RUN-#5 Matt Carpenter; HR-#t8 Matt Carpenter
2014 RUNS-#3 Matt Carpenter; OBP#7 Matt Carpenter
2013 RUNS-#1 Matt Carpenter; HITS#1 Matt Carpenter; RBI-#8 Allen Craig,AVG#6 Matt Carpenter; OBP#7 Matt Carpenter 2012 AVG#6 Allen Craig; OBP#9 Yadier Molina; SLUG#6 Allen Craig 2011 RUNS#3 & HITS-t#9 Albert
2000-2010— lots and lots of Albert
On the pitching side…I used wins (or saves), era, whip, batting avg against them—NL stats only-home grown only pitchers only so Adam Wainwright & Chris Carpenter are not part of these stats since they came in trades
2018 Miles Mikolas –#5 wins, #4 ERA, #6 –WHIP
2017-Lance Lynn #10 – bat avg against; #6 avg against
2016 Carlos Martinez– t#5in wins; ERA-#9;
2015 Michael Wacha–#5 in wins (17); Trevor Rosenthal –#2 saves (48)
2014 Trevor Rosenthal #2 saves (45); Lance Lynn t#8 WINS (15); Shelby Miller #10 bat avg against
2013 Lance Lynn t#6 WINS; Shelby Miller #10 ERA
2012 Jason Motte t#1 in SAVES; Lance Lynn #4 WINS
2011 none 2010 Jaime Garcia #4 ERA

Sooo….the Cards have drafted three batters who have played significant roles as batters since 2000—Albert, Yadi and Carp…..short “hits” from Craig and 1 or 2 others ….with Albert & Yadi in their primes, the Cards were regular visitors to the deep parts of the playoffs. Successful Pitchers drafted by the Cards (top 10 in these categories)…with multiple years are Lance Lynn & Trevor Rosenthal. Cards didn’t resign Lynn when he reached free agency and Rosenthal had a shortened career …probably due to over use.
….I’m suggesting to follow the script of the Cubs & Astros…..make drafting batters the top priority of the draft….some have argued that you can’t find batters who make a difference late in the draft…true….it’s much, much tougher to find stars later in the draft …but it is possible…… the scouting department has to be “on their game” to find these gems….here’s a couple batters from much later rounds in recent drafts…
In 2014 –13th pick was Trea Turner (Wash); 25th pick was Matt Chapman (Oakland)
2013–#32 pick (2nd last of 1st round) was Aaron Judge (NYY)
2012-#18 pick Corey Seager (LA Dodgers)
…another possible avenue to capitalize on your “farm talent”….a technique used recently by the Boston Red Sox…..trade several of the promising “prospects” for a proven star….e.g. Boston traded 5 players to White Sox for Chris Sale…..he IS a major difference maker. I believe that the Cards are guarding their treasure chest too tightly to go for the “really big one”….go for it….bring in that difference maker….like we had in Albert….it’s tough to sustain continued high success without a real star in the middle of the lineup..couldn’t we trade 2 of our top pitching “prospects” and a couple other “prospects” to procure a top level batter? My target would be Nolan Arenado of Colorado…he won’t hit as many HR as he does in Colorado but…he’s a legitimate threat
…..sooo….the Cards good moves here in July 2018 HAVE put a bounce back into the team but let’s hope that this winter the Redbirds will alter their draft approach or trade approach to bring in at least 1 top notch batter so that we’re good not just “better”
Other tidbits from around the MLB…
….did you notice that Baltimore is 41.5 game out of 1st place? WOW!! Who would pay to watch them?
…38 year old Nelson Cruz (Seattle) hit his 25th HR of the year this week….look at his last 5 years of HR—40, 44, 43, 39 and already 25 this year…..this comes AFTER hitting between 20-30 round trippers for 4 years…..my skepticism goes up…it is really unfortunate that I feel that way….but it just doesn’t seem NORMAL for a 38 year old to still have that power
…I feel like Carson Kelly is currently OUT of the picture as Yadi’s successor
…What a slugging infield the Indians play….around the horn—Edwin Encarnacion, Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez. The Indians still possess a very good starting staff…hence their 1st place standing.
…clearly Cards are playing Fowler daily to raise his value so that they can part ways with him and get at least “something” in return….the sooner that Harrison Bader plays every-day…the better
…Billy Hamilton has become much more than just a base-stealer…his terrific defensive play in CF makes him much more valuable than his batting statistics (too many strikeouts, not enough walks, low average) to the Reds
…Miles Mikolas has been an outstanding signing by the Cards….he’s the current ace with his curve ball that he throws in many different parts of the strike zone
….according to Yahoo pitching statistics, Carlos Martinez is ranked #7 on the Cardinals entire pitching staff
…moving through July …as always one of my favorite afternoon activities is watching the Tour de France….this year Geriant Thomas … signed to be a “worker” for the designated “leader” of the team ownership, Chris Froome. Thomas won stage 11….stayed strong in the torturous mountain stages and became the leader of the Sky Team (the SKY team is currently like the 1920’s Yankees teams in cycling) and won the 3 week race by almost 2 minutes (not as close as it sounds). The last day, Sunday, is a ceremonial day as the remaining riders travel into Paris and custom has it that the leader of the tour will NOT be replaced on the final celebratory day.
….probably ….it’s better for me to stop now after my stop in Paris…hopefully that’ll make it good 