Mailbag!

This month, the UCB is doing a mailbag project. Some of the other Cardinal bloggers have sent questions to me, and I have sent to others different questions, and we write our responses for all to see. I think it’s a very interesting concept, and I’m going to do my best to answer these questions and if you have any for me, whether it be on the Cardinals or me personally, I’d love to hear them and respond to them in the comments section. Feel free to ask me pretty much anything. I’m an open book.

If Oscar Taveras comes up to St. Louis and hits well and starts to cut into Allen Craig’s playing time and a trade proposal comes up for Craig, what would you want in return for Allen’s services come July 31st?

– Dan Buffa, Dose of Buffa

I have said on Twitter that the Cardinals will need to make room for Taveras by moving either Craig or Adams. They could also move Holliday, but I don’t see that happening. From the reports that we’ve gotten about Taveras playing center field, his D is worse than Jay’s out there, and so I wouldn’t want to see him out there for more than just a spot start or two, possibly giving someone a day off.

So then the question is who to trade between Adams and Craig. I think Craig has better value, but Adams has better potential. Craig can play a corner outfield spot or first base, and if pressed hard enough, he could possibly play third in a pinch. That, along with his team-friendly contract makes him a big piece of bait out there for teams to grab. I think that he’d also bring back more in a trade. If you dangle Adams out there, then he’s going to return a minor leaguer, but with Craig, I’d look for a minor league guy plus a quality reliever.

I am not completely sold that the bullpen is as solid as I think it should be, and although there are a couple ok guys waiting in the Memphis bullpen, the only one I really trust is Sam Freeman, although they have been reluctant to keep 3 lefties in the bullpen for any length of time. It reminds me a little of the 2011 season. We all know how that ended, but in July, the Cardinals shipped Colby Rasmus plus 2 relievers and a starter to Toronto for Edwin Jackson, Scrabble, Dotel, Corey Patterson, plus 3 guys to be named later or cash. That bolstered the bullpen, an helped to propel the team to the World Series win. I don’t know if I’d look to a blockbuster trade like that, but I think Craig could be shipped out to help the team get to a World Series, similar to 2011.

Who do you see the Cardinals using as trade bait come July and what hole(s) would they try to fill via trade? 

– Mark Sherrard, Cards Fan in Cubs Land

This also goes to the last question. I think that all the trade bait that the Cardinals have are:

Either Craig or Adams
Jay
Any 1, and only 1, possibly 2, starters that aren’t named Wainwright or Wacha
Any 1-2 relievers not named Martinez, Siegrist, or Rosenthal.

That’s a ton of trade bait. That’s all because of their depth. I think the first ones I think could go are Garcia, Lynn, Kelly, Jay, Craig, and Choate. Garcia won’t get much because of his contract and injury concerns. Lynn is a serviceable 4-5, as well as Kelly, or he could be a swing guy in the bullpen. Craig could get a good return (see above). Choate is mainly a LOOGY, and with Freeman coming up to take his spot and Freeman being a pure either-or guy, I think that Choate is expendable. Jay is the fourth outfielder on this team, with 3 more coming up in the next year or so. He could be a starter for many other teams.

Now about the return part, I would mainly like to bolster the bullpen a bit. Once Martinez is moved to the rotation, which we expect midseason, it is going to leave a hole back there, no matter who is taken out of the rotation. Maness has been scuffling a bit. Motte will return, but that’s an unknown. I think the bullpen could use a veteran, quality guy back there. Either that, or another shut-down starter. If you had a rotation with Wainwright, Wacha, and let’s say Scherzer in his last year of his contract (which I don’t see happening, but I can always hope, right? I mean, he is from St. Louis….), that would destroy pretty much every other team all the way to a 12th trophy.

What are your thoughts on the Cardinals’ bullpen situation when Jason Motte returns? What role does he play?

– John Nagel, Cardinals Farm

I think that Jason Motte will help to solidify the bullpen. When he comes back, which I expect will be soon, then he will be taking the spot of a guy who should probably be in Memphis, or at least is what people call a AAAA talent. A guy who is too good for AAA, but not exactly good enough for the MLB. Just kinda stuck in the middle. So, I think that he’ll certainly help, but he won’t be thrust into the 8th or 9th inning roles by any means. I think that he’ll start out as a 7th inning type of guy until they can see what they have in him. If he does that well, I think that he’ll move to the 8th when Martinez moves to the rotation. He’ll probably still share that with Siegrist so as to let him not get too many innings on his arm this early, and have him ready to get into it next year. It’ll be interesting to see, but if he does well in the 8th inning role this year, and they talk to Rosenthal about it, I’d love to see Motte return to closer in 2015 and give Rosenthal a shot at making the rotation.

How has blogging about baseball changed your experience of baseball?

Bonus Question: What single position (non-position) on the Cards roster do you see being filled with a future core player from the farm system not currently with the big league team? Who/why/etc.?

– Kevin Reynolds, STL Cards ‘N Stuff

I don’t really think that blogging has changed my baseball experience all that much, but I think that it has made me dig a little bit deeper into things. As I’ll talk about in one of the later questions, I don’t like to just have anecdotal posts, but I want to know why things happen how they do. I generally don’t do much while I’m watching the game, though. I love to just watch the game and soak it all in. I generally dig into those things and write about the game once it’s over.

Now, that’s quite different with my work for the Lookouts. When I write for them, I’m usually writing in the last few innings, starting around the 7th. It has created some problems, as I have had to go back and change some things a few times when late innings make a difference, and it’s much harder to write when it’s close or tied that late, but it’s been an interesting experience. I don’t have all the tools at my disposal that I do when it comes to the Cardinals, so I have to be quick to get data from the Trackman system. For those who don’t know, that’s a very cool system that’s installed in the stadium, and it can read pitch velocity, spin on the ball (how fast it’s spinning, and in what direction), pitch counts, speed of the ball off the bat, estimated distance of hits/home runs, among other things. The problem is that if I want to use any of that data, I need to ask for it immediately, or there’s almost no way to get it back after the fact. So, a lot of the time, I’m looking for the “crucial moments” in the game that are noteworthy for the game story so that I can get that information and include it.

Now, as for the “Bonus Question”, I think the easy answer would be to say Taveras is the next piece of the “future core” of the team, but I’m going to go a little off-beat, and I’m going to say that it’s Marco Gonzales. I think he has the potential to be the next Wacha because of his college experience. I think that you’ll see him with the Cardinals in the second half of 2015 or beginning of 2016. He’d help lock down the rotation that could have Wainwright, Wacha, Martinez, and Gonzales as the top 4. It may not even matter who number 5 is in that rotation (although Rosenthal might be a nice choice), that has the potential to be a dominant rotation.

In your years of following the St. Louis Cardinals, what is your favorite moment?

– Daniel Solzman, Redbird Rants

I have talked about this with a few different people, but I am one of the youngest bloggers on here, and as such, I am one of the newer fans. I became a fan during the McGwire race in 1998 (I was 9 years old at the time), but lived outside their TV and Radio broadcasts, didn’t have cable, and so the only time I’d get to see them was when they were on FOX’s game of the week. Hard to get into a team you see once or twice a year when you’re a kid, so it was the playoff runs of 2004 and 2006 that really got me into the team, because I finally had some exposure to them. I have bought MLB.tv the last 3 years to see them, so that’s how I keep up with them now.

But my favorite moment has to be game 6 of the 2011 World Series. I won a DVD of the game a while ago, and I live-blogged the game as I watched it as one of my first posts on here. It was, and probably will always be my favorite moment.

What are the goals for your website for this year? What do you see yourself doing in respect to writing about the Cardinals five years from now? 

– Corey Rudd, Stl Sports Minute

That’s a pretty good question. I personally don’t have many goals for the site other than to consistently write all year long. I don’t have any goals for views or anything like that. I am perfectly ok with the 1-2 readers that I have, because I don’t write for others, I write for me. I learned a long time ago that I should write for my own good, just to get my thoughts out on paper (or internet).

The second half of that question is the bigger part for me. I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years, but I hopefully will be having an actual job instead of being in Grad School. I certainly hope to still be writing about the Cardinals. I know that my time writing with the Lookouts has been a great experience, and I would love to use that to continue to write for a team, but I don’t think that I’ll be knocking on Jennifer Langosh’s or Derrick Goold’s doors anytime soon. In either case, I would love to continue writing here or maybe move my work to a site where there are multiple bloggers working together. We’ll just have to see what happens when the time comes.

Just a few days ago, the sky was falling in Cardinal National. Then the Cardinals ran off four wins in a row. Specifically what or who most and truly concerns you about the team for the rest of the season?

– Matthew ‘Pip’ Phillip, Fungoes

What concerns me? Exactly what let the game go awry Sunday: bullpen and its usage. There are only a few guys that are trusted in the bullpen, as noted by Matheny’s use of Rosenthal 4 days in a row, which finally led to another blown save. There are two issues:

1. Matheny needs to manage like it’s May and not like it’s September. The difference is that in May, you can give some of those to lower-leverage relievers. You can manage to save some of those “bullets” for later, when they’re really needed in crunch time.

2. There needs to be at least one more very dependable arm in the bullpen. Outside of Siegrist, Rosie, and Martinez, there are a ton of question marks in the bullpen. If Martinez is moved to the rotation, then that’s just all the more reason to get another reliever. Please see above arguments for the way I think that they should go about it.

How important is the next couple of weeks (until June 1)?  Is it a make-or-break time for the Cardinals or is that a little over-the-top?

– Daniel Shoptaw, C70 At The Bat

There’s the old adage that you can’t win the pennant in April, but you sure can lose it. Every month is a reasonably big deal, however, the later months are crunch time, and the early months don’t mean as much. The next couple of weeks are still a medium-sized deal. I wouldn’t say that it’s make or break time, but let’s look at it like this: the Cardinals took the top seed in the playoffs last year with 97 wins. Teams scratch and fight to try and reach 100 each year, and if a team goes .500 for the season, then they’re at 81 wins. All the Cardinals have to do is get 19 more wins than that, and they’re going to get into the playoffs easily.

I feel like the team needs to keep at or above .500, but if the team can hit a stride and get a few games up, that would be fantastic. As long as they’re within “striking distance” of the Brewers on June 1 (5 games or less), then it will be much easier for the team to make a run for the playoffs down the stretch. I think what they should shoot for is to be 3-4 games above .500 and within 5 games of Milwaukee by then. Now, if they don’t make it to that, then it’s not ideal, but it’s not going to break the team. The only thing that I think could derail their postseason hopes at the moment is if they hit a long losing skid and are a few games below .500 by then.

Now, this is a home stretch, and they hopefully should be able to get quite a few wins out of it, but I don’t think it’s as dire as some people have tried to make it out to be.

Every now and again, we take a step back from pure baseball analysis and write something from the heart.  It may be something emotional or just something that you have to get off your chest.

If I asked you to pick one post from your site, just one, that you are truly proud of writing, what would you say it was?

-Bill Ivie, I-70 Baseball

Now, this one is a great question. I tend to be a very passionate fan. I try to stay objective on many of the posts that I write, especially game stories, but it’s sometimes hard to not let my fandom show from time to time. I don’t think I’m nearly as creative as some of the other writers, like the ladies of Aaron Miles’ Fastball, who will write poems, haikus, or even love letters to players.

I take a lot of pride in my ability to dig deep into the numbers. Not necessarily like a SABR guy would, but I do a lot of science work, and one of the reasons that my teachers spurned me to doing it, and why I like what I do is because I don’t like to leave “Why?” questions unanswered. I almost HAVE to know the reasons behind things. That’s why when I’m writing about something, I want to dig into those reasons. Recently, there was a game where Bourjos was likely to steal second, but wasn’t able to, and people wanted to know why, so I personally timed the wait times of the pitcher to try and figure out why.

But the one that I’m most proud of is the post I did on Jay’s contract numbers before the season. I’m most proud of it because of all the time that I spent on it. It took me about 7 hours of research to put together all the WAR numbers and also the contract numbers of all of those guys. It was honestly pretty hard, but it was worth it, and I throughly enjoyed the end product. The post was also an interesting one when I wrote it, because I’m not a fan of Jay. I started all the research and everything trying to get all these numbers together and I was hoping my conclusion would be something along the lines of “This was a terrible contract. Why would they give him so much? Jay sucks.”, but it ended up that my research was didn’t show that. I still posted my research because, well, it was interesting, and I thought it would better inform everyone.

I’m still really proud of the work that I did, and the analysis that I gave, even if it wasn’t the conclusion that I originally set out to prove.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: UCB Project, May 2014: The Mailbag — United Cardinal Bloggers

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