Cards-MLB Changes in 2020

This MLB season will have plenty of changes….some were planned…many are due to the virus. Certainly the Cardinals & the entire MLB will face many adjustments & new decisions….Here goes..
…ROSTER SIZE….initially, the active player total was to be 26 players…since the virus both sides have agreed to 30 active man roster with a total roster of 50. The remaining 20 players are the entire “farm” system for that team. It’s my understanding that MLB players can not be bounced back/forth from 30 man roster to 50 man roster. At this time, there are NO Minor leagues intending to compete. For the Cards….expanding the roster may actually present a problem. Mgr Shildt may have too many toys and feel compelled to give “everyone” a chance, instead of focusing on developing with daily use 1 or 2 ..especially in the OF. Adding these lower end salaried players is an easy no-brainer for the owners. There are severe consequences for the MiLB (Later)
…Players 31-50… so just how will these 20 players be kept “tuned up” just in case that they are called up to the MLB roster? They won’t be allowed to play games against other teams….hitting BP every day isn’t the same thing…competitive, meaningful pitches aren’t being made…yes, you can do drills & drills but how will this keep this very small number of players close to their optimum level of performance….we’re talking 3 months here!! I would anticipate a drop off…maybe a severe drop..in the performance of these StL Cards minor league players for 2020. See concerns about MiLB below.
…Daily DH…Cards traded away probably their best DH candidate in Jose Martinez. It does seem to open up at bats for Tommy Edman/ Matt Carpenter (LH ) & Lane Thomas & Rangel Ravero as RH. Ravero has caught the eye of the Cards with his batting but he originally was a 1B…no room there.. so he’s been working out in the outfield…and now….probably as a DH.
…SAFETY… Cards Player rep, Andrew Miller told ESPN “I don’t think anything can be done until (safety) can be guaranteed and we feel comfortable with it. We want to put a good product on the field, but that’s totally secondary to the health of the players. We are generally younger and healthier, but that doesn’t mean our staff is, that doesn’t mean the umpires are going to be in the clear”. The talk of daily tests for the players sees some hurdles. The most obvious potential snag is the availability of the testing material for the virus. For example, if every team tests each player on the roster daily, then that would mean MLB is using more than 20,000 tests/ month — and that’s without testing anyone else who may come into contact with those players. As a comparison, the state of Arizona thus far has administered just more than 33,000 tests to this point. Testing is slow now…in 2 more months…with big money behind them, I feel like the MLB and Players Union WILL work out the thorny points of dealing with the virus.
….FANS …. I believe that both sides would start the season w/o fans if necessary. Clearly, both sides would try to begin admitting small crowds…watch results….add size of crowd…watch results…allow more fans…watch results…yada-yada-yada….Maybe, maybe by World Series, it’d be full crowds.
….NEW SCHEDULE….at this time, the feeling seems to be that there will be 3 divisions—East, Cen, West. Obviously, Cards would be in the Central. WHAT A BREAK!! The NL Central & AL Central would become the Central. These 10 teams include Pittsburgh, KC, Detroit, CWS. FOUR of the weakest teams in the MLB. That would be a big boost for the Cardinals…since a win is a win..period. With the shorter season, players will HAVE to produce quickly…or hit the bench. With each game being twice as important (only ½ the games) starters–O’Neill & Fowler are on the hot spot…they’d better hit right off the bat or they’ll be replaced quickly. With the shorter schedule and more Double headers, will the Cards actually require 3 catchers? Having both Wieters & Knizer seems a bit of an overload. Cut Wieters so that the Cards MUST play Knizer with some regularity. Otherwise, he’ll be a carbon copy of Carson Kelly…on the other hand, maybe the Cards have already “moved on” to Ivan Herrara(19 year old-catcher in Class A last year.
….POST SEASON SCHEDULE….why do you suppose that with the season beginning so late, that the MLB would want such an expansion of the playoffs (7 teams in each league)….well….the players only earn a set amount as winners/losers of each series. It’s NOT part of their contract….sooo.. the owners rake in all the money from post season. This is a way for them to recoup some of their losses from the regular season…impact on Cards players…ya gotta win and keep winning in the playoffs to increase $.
…SERVICE TIME…any MLB player who was credited with a full year last year will have 2020 count as a full service year for any amount of playing time. Minor League players of last year do NOT have that benefit. Some would have indicated that the MLB Players Union sold out the minor leaguers, foreign born players and all others outside the MLB with the contract….well…they DO represent the MLB players! This is important for the Cards since their hottest prospect, Carlson, is on the edge of MLB consistent play. If Carlson continues batting like he did in early spring training, he’ll really force their hand. With that in mind, would Cards consider Carlson as a DH or shove aside O’Neill or Bader. I don’t think that Fowler will be moved….frankly, who’d want that contract for his performance?
….MONEY…always the biggest issue!!!…. there is already a wide gap between the MLB & the Players Union. Originally, the MLB asked the Players Union to consider that their salary would be pro-rated to the number of games. The Players agreed. Thus, half of salary for half a season. Now, as more serious talks are about to begin, the owners seek to have the players accept salary in a totally different way– to pro-rating their salaries to the income of the owners. This particular year, the owners are probably facing severe declines in income @ the ballparks. Hence, the players would be getting half of this anticipated lower MLB income. Tying their income in any way to owners share is viewed by the players union views this as a salary cap. That was the EXACT reason for the 1974 players strike—fighting a salary cap. This will be a major, major hurdle. With the season ALREADY being shortened, I feel like the Union has a slight upper hand at this moment. The owners sound as if they have more at stake….shortening the season even more may jeopardize the legitimacy of the playoffs.
….MINOR LEAGUES….this one may be the biggest impact on the Cardinals…and their philosophy of forming players. The NFL & NBA have college sports as their farm system. Yes..the NBA does have the D-league to develop 10-15 possible players. The MLB has relied on the minor league (MiLB) system to develop/train their players. Generally, players are assessed and then placed at the level matching their skill level. Players move up from one level to the next with hopes of reaching the MLB. The players live on very, very skimpy salaries. For many of them coming out of a college setting or a strong home upbringing, these MiLB days are an ugly introduction to pro ball. It’s all done because of their dreams. These minor league teams are almost always locally owned. Financially, it’s a battle…not to win…but to survive. The gate and advertising are the only incomes for the owners. It’s getting tougher each year as attendance has been on a downward spiral for several years now while the costs continue to rise. Even before the virus, the MiLB was in deep trouble. With the MLB basically disbanding the MiLB for the season, HOW will they come back? I think many will NOT survive. For the Cardinals, the MiLB, established by Branch Rickey, has been a life line of a steady stream of players. Sure, the Cards go out and sign a big name free agent for a 3-5 year life span. The Cards can do that because they have so many players from the MiLB who spend their 1st 6 years of playing MLB ball under strong financial control. Look at the current team—Molina, Wong, DeJong, Carpenter, Flaherty, etc…The reduction or loss of a MiLB system would change baseball tremendously. Would the current MLB owners, who all seem in strong financial grounds, take control of the entire MiLB system to preserve their stream of new players? But.. these teams don’t make money…. would the owners (most of whom are worth $1B.. that’s a B) be willing to look towards a system that they will have a difficult time breaking even but does provide them with their players? Personally, I can’t believe that the owners would undertake such a project…What are your thoughts on any of these topics…biggest issue? Easiest to solve? Differing view on any of the above! Other issues not mentioned! Please feel free to give your opinion….

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