Cards Reconstruction Cake by Bob Ryan

It’s already in process….the Cards reconstruction project….no …not the new apartment, commercial buildings being planned around the Stadium by the Cards ownership but the plans to rebuild the Cards into a divisional champion….not a wild carder

 

….the Cards have declined to resign vets Matt Holliday and Brandon Moss, declined option on Jordan Walden, lost Jeremy Hazelmaker & Dean Kiekhefer through waiver claims to start the ball rolling but before you crack the eggs to start baking your reconstruction cake… consider some special ingredients necessary

…..Cards, in the overview,  are clearly looking to get more athletic, speedy and younger star close to his peak years so keep that in mind and….let’s be practical…Cards ownership can go “big” once a year so pick that guy carefully  and defensive  play  will be a consideration on each acquisition

Now for the actual ingredients..…..CF is a focal point…SO lets start our investigation right there!…in an article last year, I suggested Adam Eaton (CWS).. he hit .284 last year(lifetime avg for 3 years in MLB is .284), played 157 games, he did play more in RF than CF so that’s a minus,9th in AL in times on base,27 years old… he’s signed for the following 2017-$4mil, 2018, $6mil, 2019-$8.4mil, 2020-$9.5mil and 2021…that’s an eternity in the MLB he’d be earning $10.5 mil..those all seem palatable –I think the Sox would be an easy partner to partner with in a deal….they need just about everything! A free agent CF is Ian Desmond…I’m cool to him…age is fine-31 but hitting really slacked after July 4th…hit .345 in May, .358 in June but July saw a .257 avg Aug-.241, Sept-.253…he’d be a terrific guy off th the bench because he plays SS AND CF…a seasoned vet (Rajai Davis type-Clev) but he earned $8mil last year as a 1 year free agent so don’t think he’s in the reconstruction cake receipe; AJ Pollock (28) is coming off a wiped-out injury riddled season…he should be blooming at this age but the injury causes one to slow down before turning into the AJ Road…however, you may be able to procure him at a relatively modest rate…..the hottest, newest flavor in town is Charlie Blackmon (30)..he hit a career high .324 last year..hit .335 in the light air of Colorado and for the first time in his career he hit over .300(.313) away from Coors..in 2015  Blackmon was a .238 batter…over the last 3 years he’s hit .265 on the road…he’s arbitration eligible this year…some question how much of an upgrade Blackmon is defensively over Grichuk? Rockies ALWAYS need pitching, now a 1B suits them and an RF….I think the Lou would like this hustling CF but still not sure of the away-from-Coors success rate however…he’d be my main target…now other pieces of the reconstruction cake..

….I’d really like an experienced backup OF who could play in any spot…let the starters stay still in same spot and move the sub around…all these guys can play all OF positions–Rajai Davis (36),Gregor Blanco (32), Austin Jackson …pull the cord on one of these guys as a bench man..don’t let these young prospects rot on the bench…I do think that Hazelmaker & Pham were too old to be considered real prospects so they fit into the mold that I’m describing

….Carson Kelly is the backup catcher….why let him languish on the bench as Yadi piles up game after game..he was signed as a 3B… let him play return to that position for  1 or 2x a week (or more)…he can still be the backup catcher…why waste any MLB spot for a guy to be a cheerleader… u couldn’t take him out of the game…you must ensure that someone on the roster can catch…I must caution you  when I read that he “struggled” to hit in his 1st year of minor league ball  which led to his position change that maybe this isn’t the slam dunk that we …or at least me…thought it was going to be…don’t count on him for 14 years of catching 

…as the cake starts to be formed ….I’m hearing “talk” that Diaz can’t cover enough ground as a SS…well…we seem well stocked in the minors Elmundo Sosa (20) seems to be at the top of the SS totem pole at the moment..#1 draft pick of last year Delvin Perez may have more talent but needs more seasoning while Allen Perez is squeezed between these two talents at the same spot…so Diaz isn’t leaving…but maybe Wong is….we can move Diaz at any time to 2B to keep his live bat

….Starting pitching was the main ingredient of the both of the 2016 world series teams …it was 5 strong, veteran pitchers…Cards have a question mark behind almost every starter…right now…it looks like Martinez, Wainwright, Reyes are the playoff big 3….What is Garcia trade chip? #4?  Starter every 6th day? Who knows? Maybe a bridge man(see below) Leake is a weak #5,  Wacha has already hit his personal apex and won’t every be a #1-3 again….if the Cards trade for a pitcher…it should be a #1 …that would be a real upgrade….my target would be Chris Sales of CWS… Leake would be tough to deal but Gonzalez and Cooney have both been passed up on the minor league charts so they are also trade bait…Luke Weaver maybe a #3 at his best so we could trade these younger, cheaper arms for an older, more expensive arm. Cards need to get ONE major upgrade. By elevating the starting pitching…you are strengthening the bullpen by going deeper in the game .. a bullpen that has been grossly overused in recent years and some of those hurlers have already been “kleenexed”

…along these lines….the Cards have drafted heavily in starting pitchers during MO’s time…we’ve had some successes…albeit very short in some cases (Wacha) but many other flops (Gonzalez, Cooney)…this is far a far different approach when comparing tem to the two world series teams…Cleveland had 1 starter that they drafted and the Cubs Zero starters that were “home grown”.  Both those clubs spent most of their draft picks on field players….when asked about that idea, Theo Epstein responded that field players are not nearly so likely to lose significant time to injuries as pitchers…I mean it seems to me that the scars of Tommy John are the new “pass” to enter into starting rotations J You probably know the Cubs draftees who are starring but maybe you don’t know that Cleveland drafted Kipnis, Lindo, Chisenhall and Naquin…a sound nucleus of field players. Yes…the Cards DO have field players of draftees on their roster—Adams, Carpenter, Wong, Piscotty, Grichuk, Molina, Pham, Garcia  but…other than Yadi & Carp (who are both 30+ now) …and I’ll say Piscotty…who will help lead us to a championship?

….Bullpen…prior to double checking our ingredients…I like to propose a new construction of the actual roles in the pen…we already have the closer & set-up man but I’d like a “bridge” man…one who comes into the game in the 6th (as happens so frequently) and is expected to go through the lineup one entire time…gobbling up 2-3 innings..I would actually have two bridge men. So my pitching staff would be 5 starters, 2 bridge, 1 closer, 1 setup and 3 one inning guys. I have felt that the overuse of the bullpen wears down the effectiveness as the season progresses and clearly is shortening the careers of the guys going 70+ times a year. With 2 bridge men…there would never be back-back days…and if they are rolling…let them go deeper into the game. These bridge guys would be former starting pitchers who could get through the lineup once well and then fell apart…maybe Jaime Garcia and Mike Leake?  Manifesto talks about confidence of players…well..let these hurlers get more than 1 or 2 outs…let them pitch…if they aren’t good enough….move on.

Now…the personnel of the pen…. where does Rosenthal fit in? Oh is a very good 8th inning hurler and a B level closer…it seemed to me that the league adjusted to him and were hitting him much better in September than earlier in the season. Current roster members who seem secure are Matt Bowman and Kevin Siegrest. Broxton has been OK but he does carry a $9mil contract…seems far too high for the duties that he performs. Remember if my new construction on roles is followed, we’d only need 1 more guy…probably a left hander. Looking then at the farm….Watch if Jr. Fernadez in the organization pushes upward during the spring…great stuff…hasn’t mastered off-speed so he could get by as a reliever earlier than a starter. Connor Jones is being groomed as a top level closer. Another lefty must be acquired to replace Zach Duke…maybe even Scrabble again. Relievers are the easiest to find..so put that on the back burner while our reconstruction cake is being mixed together in other areas.. but the question remains….where does  Rosenthal fit in? or does he?  …this construction cake will begin shortly and be completed…for the most part..by the start of the season…..

 

There are several other reconstruction cakes are under way around the local area…take a taste of each one..

….St Louis U basketball….after running Gene Crews outta town in a crude, abrupt, harsh way…Crews was a good man….Crews was a good x & o guy ….never claimed to like recruiting or dealing with players who didn’t play hard and smart…he was super with Rick Majerus’ players but not his own….Travis Ford was brought in to ignite energy in the Chaifetz Arena, to recruit,to get into “some” type of post-season trny initially and then into the NCAA.. Ford, who’s the best shooter on the court when his team practices, has “come down” from Oklahoma State so he’s accustom to the higher level players “needs”…and many are needy…He should be a hard, good recruiter….I see his team being improved over the 5-13 conference record of last year and shooting for 14-16 wins this and  by 1917-18 moving into top half of the conference…btw….why are we in the A-10 again?   TV?  Recruiting?  Huh? They belong somewhere else with a Midwest flavor…maybe it’s the MO Valley but maybe its something in “Under Construction” stage

….Mizzou football is in real deep construction…being left without  several 4-5 year seniors to be highly productive players…Mizzou has beaten two horrible cupcakes and no one else…generally…games haven’t been close….Coach Barry Odum seems to be “hurrying” the baking of his cake that requires slow, step by step baking. It seems clear to me that he is in the panic mode. He’s now taken over Def Coordinator Duties, Punt Return duties. His 1st year coaching against some of the very best collegiate coaches is a huge challenge.  I’m not sure that this coaching staff is equipped to handle the rugged ingredients to bake this challenging cake. According to Athlon Sports Article…Odum was ranked #85  out of 126 D-1 coaches in the preseason…don’t think his rating has moved upward this year.

 

Other sports tidbits…

…Yoenis Cepesdes thinks that by using his opt-out option that his value will increase…really?  Sure he can hit but his other baggage comes along also…poor fielder, poor baserunner, not the best “team man …boy I’m being kind J

…Navy’s upset of Notre Dame is stunning…almost a David vs Goliath….if you’ll recall my article of a few weeks ago…the current Navy QB was 4th string at start of the season..amazing

…..LA fans booing the Rams already…gee….let’s see …they made it to November before realizing the ineptness of the Rams players, coaches, mgmt., owner.

….Both Mizzou and SLU should have strong women’s basketball teams again this year…and they are playing each other…on Jan 1…I wish it was a different date.

….with the Dome having become a huge storage center now….the MSHSAA the championship football games have been moved….I always enjoyed those games over Thanksgiving weekend in the comfortable( and close) DOME..now being moved  to Mizzou one year and then Springfield….I would think that Mizzou would do anything that they could to shuffle their schedule to get those games on their campus to elevate their presence but…

….the Mets are really overloaded by guaranteed contracts..tk a peek..David Wright $67mil through 2020; Juan Lagares $20mil through 2019, Curtis Granderson $13mil through 2017, Jay Bruce #13mil-til 2017, Asrubal Cabrera $8.25mil-2017 and that’s AFTER losing Yoenis Cespedes’ huge contract..the only player of interest to me is Jay Bruce…he could be a short term solution for Cards in the OF…he is only 29 but drawback is that he’s played RF only.

…..oops there’s my timer….my construction cake is done…and so am I….have a wonderful week!

 

Comments

  1. John Rocco says:

    Bob, good stuff.
    -What about Rosenthal as a bridge guy? But
    If that’s the case I’m not sure who the
    Closer would be..maybe Oh?
    -I’d like to see them get Fowler to play
    Centerfield.
    -I totally agree with you that the Billikens
    should be in the MVC not the A10.
    -Lastly, while I enjoy watching the Rams
    lose, I wish they were still here.
    Especially if they had a different owner.
    Thanks.
    John

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