With the St. Louis Cardinals early exit from the playoffs, we decided it would be a good idea to go to the 590 baseball guys and see what went wrong. Not only in regards to the season and playoffs, but even touch on problems that have been building the last few years.
Q: In your mind specifically, what was one problem that seemed to plague the Cardinals all year?
Brian: It was their offense. I think that was an issue you saw coming, kind of had an unforeseen break may have affected some hitters getting their timing right. Outfield never quite got up to the level you wanted to see. You saw these problems follow them into the playoffs. They had 29 games where they scored three or fewer runs and only won four of those games.
Jim: It’s too simple to say just hitting; their offensive makeup just wasn’t done properly. You have hitters like Paul Goldschmidlt and Paul DeJong, but they had no one to complement them. They lastly didn’t have anything proven in the outfield that could have enhanced the four or five guys.
Bob: Offense is the problem, and it’s not as simple as saying we need to score more runs, because that’s the obvious part. What is more concerning in a broader picture is a trail of poor evaluation decisions, that all came home to roost this year, where you can point to four or five bats around the league that were a part or could have been a part of this organization that would have completely changed the offensive outlook of this club. So, players lost, players brought in, and players not acquired, and the mismanagement of those three gave them the club they have.
Q: Do you see this year’s finish as a reason to make any big changes?
Brian: You need to add a bat, I think that’s pretty obvious. You let the outfield go out and see what they had this year and they need to improve. Whether that’s a third baseman or another outfielder, you have the ability to tweak this lineup especially in the outfield to get the best team possible. Paul Goldschmidt had a great OBP but not for the reasons the Cardinals got him. He had a career low in slugging percentage because teams didn’t have to pitch to him. If you add a bat behind Goldschmidt, you force teams to pitch to him and you will see him drive the ball more than he did this year.
Jim: Absolutely, absolutely have an impact bat, because you can’t go into the next year with the same hope. Dylan Carlson has only played a handful of games at the major-league level, so he can’t be your end-all, be-all guy. You have to find a way to get an impact bat, maybe even two.
Bob: Yes definitely, and I know a lot of fans are nervous, because making the playoffs has always been good enough for Cardinals management which is OK with me because that’s all they promised to do. I think I can speak for most Cardinals fans when I say we want more. More legitimate chances to capture pennants and World Series titles and I think that’s what the fans are more or less demanding. To anyone being honest and objective, the evaluation process on position players the last half-dozen years has not been effective, pitching has been great but is it too much metrics? Is it the way the metrics are used? I don’t know, but the evaluation process is flawed and hasn’t been working.
Q: Is there anyone over the past few years the Cardinals have let walk or traded that you feel could have helped them get past the first round this year?
Brian: I was upset Day 1 from the Tommy Pham trade. I thought he was someone who was having a rough year when they dealt him in 2018 even though the manager was later let go for the team as a whole not playing well. Since being dealt, he has outperformed all of your outfielders. He had a very good offensive series against the Cardinals and I believe that was a miss. He was still a very controllable outfielder that when healthy could produce. On top of all of that in 2017 he finished with an OPS of .931, which is something the Cardinals have been seeking outside the organization since. That’s the one I wish they could have back.
Jim: If Ozuna was back this year he could have been in the DH role and this team would have been much better. and the Cardinals could have challenged for the division. At the end of the day, it comes back to an impact bat and that’s what Marcel Ozuna was.
Bob: As I said before, depending on how many hypotheticals you want to make you have half a dozen players that could have improved this team. One that sticks out to me is Randy Arozarena. Anyone who follows the Cardinals prospects closely was shocked they moved him. We can go back and forth on Pham and Grichuk, but if you put Arozarena on this team with the weapons they already have it’s not a murderer’s row, but it’s definitely a more formidable offense.
Q: Who is someone on the market you feel could fill in the gaps the Cardinals need and what would they need to do to get it done?
Brian: If he declines his option, which is probably unlikely, Castellanos is a good option. He would be a good DH option and if you want to put him at the corners in the outfield you will have to move either Fowler or Carlson would have to move to center which could be Fowler despite Carlson playing center in the minors. If you’re aiming for a third baseman, Nolan Arenado was someone being talked about last year. I don’t see that happening. I wonder what happens if you go to a team like Boston and see what a guy like Rafael Devers would be. He is entering his arbitration years where he starts to get more expensive for a team like the Sox. Not only do you add a cheaper roster spot, but another lefty in the lineup.
Jim: When you use the word market I see that as the trade market and I don’t see that fully ready yet. You have teams still in the playoffs that will need to find out what they are missing before they hit the offseason.
Bob: I’ve always had more confidence in John Mozeliak when it comes to trades rather than free-agent signings. The Cardinals need someone who can hit two through five. If you are able to put Carlson in front of Goldschmidt and get someone like what Ozuna was for the Atlanta Braves this year, but not just someone who can bat cleanup, but is also an all around player.
Q: Where is your ideal role for Tommy Edman?
Brian: I want him in the role he has been in the last few years. If he can fit into the Ben Zobrist type of role. It’s going to be hard to find him playing time at just one position, so if he could fit in and play occasional second, play occasional outfield, as well as playing short a bit this year with DeJong out. He’s a guy that can bounce around positions, but still be in the lineup four days out of the week. If you use him properly and put him where he is best based on the matchup then he is an invaluable asset.
Jim: He doesn’t have a best position, he is that utility guy you need when it’s all said and done. He can play a week in the outfield or infield. He’s got to be a guy that has 300-400 at-bats that you can use as your utility however needed.
Bob: They say it takes 1,000 at-bats to see where someone is in the big leagues and we’re not quite there with Tommy (530). You could see he was kind of leveling off because teams were figuring out how to pitch to him and he seems to be a sucker at times for the high fastball. He doesn’t do that well, but he does battle, he is great defensively and I am a huge fan of him and if you have a team where he is your super sub you have a hell of a team. The Cardinals are unfortunately three or four players away from being able to put Edman on the bench.