Welcome to an annual tradition for the United Cardinal Bloggers (UCB), the post-season roundtable discussion. Each day a different Cardinal blogger posts a new question and the rest of us discuss it. Here’s the transcript from Day 1 with a question from yours’ truly.
(CLICK HERE to read my take on the question at About.com.)
Man, starting this one off with some fire…
Author, C70 At The Bat Twitter: @C70
I see Bill and Daniel talking about changing the hitting coach, but there is no guarantee that changing the hitting coach will change anything. By a variety of measures, offense is down around the league, the Cardinals were behind that curve a few years ago, and now we’ve caught up. Is that the hitting coach? Is that standard regression? Is that players who aren’t as good? Is that the ballpark? Is it all four? I’m fairly certain none of us really know and because there’s no guarantee that John Mabry is the problem, the Cardinals aren’t going to make a change for the sake of a change.
This offseason there are three big things the Cardinals need to do, in my mind.
First, bring back Jason Heyward. While I think we can all agree that he’s not the centerpiece player the Cardinals need, he is an exceptionally valuable player and worth having. He would be a luxury, but given the degree of difficulty the NL Central looks to have in the coming years, it’s a luxury we need to afford.
Second, create opportunities for guys like Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty to have starring roles in the offense. As I wrote last week, it’s time to throw the kids the keys to the car. We’ve done it in the rotation (and are probably about to do it in the bullpen), time to do it in the lineup.
Third, identify and acquire a centerpiece hitter. Guys like Albert Pujols (in his Cardinals years), Andrew McCutchen, and Anthony Rizzo who do a lot of everything. I don’t see Piscotty or Grichuk being that player. Holliday never has been that player outside of Coors Field, but he was close enough for the first five years of his deal to be an effective stopgap.
The advantage for St. Louis is that we have a lot of positional flexibility so we can acquire this player at virtually any position. The difficulty, of course, is finding this player. Because what’s the common thread of those three centerpiece hitters I mentioned earlier? They’re all essentially home grown. Yes, I know Rizzo was dealt twice as a minor leaguer, but both times acquired by guys who had been involved in getting him drafted originally. If anything, that shows that those players can be acquired.
It’s coincidental to have this question today. Oscar Taveras was supposed to be this player for the Cardinals. A year after his death, we’re still trying to figure out how to replace him.
My two cents: Keep Heyward, jettison Jay and go with Grichuk/Pham in CF.
First of all, I’d like to re-state Kevin’s question: How, specifically, would you solve and resolve the Cardinals offensive woes for next season? By “specifically,” I mean identify the problem(s) you want to fix and tell us how you would fix it/them.
As most people have touched on, the first thing I would do is replace Mabry. It’s hard to tell how much of an effect that a hitting coach has, but when Mattingly was let go, so was Mark McGwire. I wish the Cardinals tried to get him back and fire Mabry.
The other thing that is needed is just to have a healthy, strong lineup. Matheny still has trouble making out good lineup cards, but if the Cardinals can have all their guys healthy, I think the lineup will be fine. Of course, I want to have Jason Heyward back, putting him with a healthy Grichuk, Holliday, Molina, and Piscotty at first in an optimized lineup is all I think this team needs.
Question–How, specifically, would you solve and resolve the Cardinals offensive woes for next season? By “specifically,” I mean identify the problem(s) you want to fix and tell us how you would fix it/them.
To fix the Cardinals’ problems on offense:
_ Acquire a first baseman who is a proven run producer and can play every day.
_ Move Matt Carpenter into the No. 3 spot in the lineup.
_ Re-focus on fundamentals, especially moving runners from second to third with none out and advancing runners from third with less than two out.
The Cardinals bad offense can be blamed a lot by injuries. A full year of a healthy Matt Holliday, Matt Adams, Randal Grichuk, Piscotty and Tommy Pham will help. With the Cards primary need being offense they can stand to lose a bit of defense by taking starts away and or trading centerfielders Jay and Bourjos. Ideally the Cardinals will not resign Mark Reynolds who played as well as we could have expected and other teams have already shown interest in Brandon Moss. They combined for 514 ABs with an over 30% K rate and 17 HRs which is comparable to Ryan Howard in 2015.
In terms of additions to the offense for 2016 the cardinals need to be focused on signing Jason Hayward first. He is a franchise changing player that deserves a franchise changing deal. In terms of smaller acquisitions the Cards should focus on a right handed hitter with power potential. I would target Danny Valencia, who is capable of playing 3rd, 1st and corner outfield and sports a career .862 OPS against lefties. He is currently part of the Athletics bench. They should also focus on a legit backup for Peralta, that can keep him fresh and play other positions in the infield. Asdrubal Cabrera signed a 1 year deal with the Rays last year $7.5 million. While he should get a pay bump; this is a player and deal the Cards should try to execute this offseason to turn their bench into a strength.
This is basically the exact same conversation we all were having during the trade deadline. The Cardinals need help on offense, yes, who do you replace? Who is even available on the FA/Trade market? Could the Cardinals afford, be it with money or prospects, to add another major piece, on top of signing Heyward (please sign Heyward)? It’s easy to say the Cardinals should add in impact bat, but who? Where?
I think it’s best to start by looking at the current players on the roster. Which players most negatively impacted the offense?
Let’s start with Kolten Wong. Over 613, PA Wong put up a .262/.321/.386 line good for a wRC+ of 96. I’m a big Kolten Wong fan, but those numbers aren’t great. Could be worse, of course, but not great.
Over 530 PA, Yadier Molina contributed a .270/.310/.350 line with a wRC+ of 80. We’re starting to see a problem here.
Combined, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos had 465 PA, and had a wRC+ of 80 and 70, respectively. Not a full season of PA’s, but when they played, they were pretty much terrible.
We have four players who had significant playing time in 2015 (still combining JJ and PB). Each of them, across the entire season, were below average. So, what do we do?
I think the first solution is to drop Jay and Bourjos from the roster. Roll with an outfield of Holliday, Grichuk, Heyward (please), Piscotty, and Pham. Even if Holliday is in real decline, that just means Piscotty or Pham get more PA.
Next, drop Yadi in the lineup and bring up Mike Ohlman. You know how for the past five years everyone has said, “Man, Yadi could hit .000 and he would still be one of the best players on the team?” Well, now it’s time to put that to the test. Maybe I’m overreacting, but he did not look good at the plate this year. Molina should hit in the 8th spot while still getting the bulk of the starts, with Ohlman hopefully providing some pop when he starts.
Kolten Wong is the hardest one to deal with. Despite his problems at the plate, he still put up 2.3 WAR. His combination of speed, often fantastic defense, and power make him able to contribute in several ways, but 2015 wasn’t the total breakout we were all hoping for. I think the Cardinals should find a legitimate middle infielder, be it a touted prospect from another team or one of the FA everyone else has mentioned. The Cardinals need another option behind Wong and Peralta, should either of them fall off the cliff.
Unless Mozeliak can somehow swing a crazy deal for someone like Joey Votto, I just don’t think there are many big moves the Cardinals can make this offseason to help the offense(besides signing Jason Heyward.) If Mozeliak can sign Heyward, cut Jay and Bourjos, convince Matheny should drop Molina in the lineup, call up Mike Ohlman, and sign someone to backup Wong and Peralta I’ll be happy.
P.S. I left first base out of this because we all know already how bad it was last year. I’m just putting Piscotty there if Adams can’t come back healthy in the Spring.
Love the start of roundtable season, and I can’t wait to see what the
great minds in this group come up with the next couple weeks! As for
Kevin’s fireworks out of the gate, I’m going to be the odd-man out I
How, specifically, would you solve and resolve the Cardinals offensive
woes for next season? By “specifically,” I mean identify the
problem(s) you want to fix and tell us how you would fix it/them.
To me the offense has to get more balanced, and the best way to do
that is to add a couple of switch-hitters to the mix. The first will
be more costly even though he is older, but has there ever been a
better fit for Mike Matheny’s troop than Ben Zobrist. You literally
could play the guy all over the place and keep everyone fresh at the
same time. Want to put Stephen Piscotty in the OF, check. Spell Kolten
Wong against that Kershaw guy, double-check. Time for Jhonny Peralta
or Matt Carpenter to enjoy a day in the sun, yes please! Would he cost
more $$ to sign as a ‘part-time’ regular and even (gasp) a possible
overpay — make it happen as soon as Jason Heyward makes a decision or
The other part of the equation to me gets tricky, because it directly
involves the one part of the roster more cluttered than possibly any
other. I’m all for resigning J-Hey if the money makes sense or even
starts to get a bit crazy as long as it doesn’t drag into late
December. And the reason for that simply is other needs must be
addressed, most importantly how you can get Carpenter down to third in
the lineup. Wong hasn’t proved to be able to handle the top spot, and
I’m against throwing Piscotty into the lead-off role his sophomore
season. Heyward maybe could go back there if needed, but I personally
like the thought of a switch-hitter up there with Heyward patrolling
RF on a full-time basis.
I have given quite a bit of thought about what to do in St. Louis when
it comes to center field, and the answer honestly came from a very
surprising source. My brother brought up the fact that he didn’t see
the Cubs making a play to bring back Dexter Fowler, and that kind of
surprised me until I looked at the numbers. Fowler does quite well in
center field, he actually gets on base at a nice clip, shows some
power as well as speed but most importantly won’t break the piggy-bank
that is set aside for #22.
Yes, I can already hear your questions as you read this. Wait, if the
Cards are stacked in the outfield, why would they sign not one, but
two additions? Um, where does Randal Grichuk play in this scenario of
yours? Both answers come in the form of a trade, simply because I feel
the Cards will add another power source from the right side of the
plate. Grichuk has been a nice story but time to deal him before the
rest of the game realizes he can’t stay healthy enough to contribute
all summer. Look for St. Louis to use last year’s Korean experiment to
pay off this Winter when they land Byung-ho Park to apprentice at
first base and hit some huge bombs along the way.
Even with all of these fireworks, deals for Zobrist, Park, and Fowler
pale in comparison to jumping full length into the starting pitching
pool, something a trade of Grichuk could answer in maybe a post coming
up in the very near future!
- Josh Gilliam