Cards Thin the Ranks by Bob Ryan

With Free Agency beginning, each MLB team reaches crossroads on their roster. The Cardinals are no different. These vital decisions will impact the entire 2020 season. Taking a look…

…..To no one’s surprise, Ozuna rejected the Cardinals qualifying offer. It has been raised to a hefty $17.8/year by the league.  If those qualifying offers are accepted, the player fulfills their 1 year obligation and then…may…become a free agent the following year. After accepting 1 qualifying offer, it may NOT be done again to the same player by the same team. So…with Ozuna gone, the Cards outfield seems to be leaning towards a youth program….and a “cheaper” one.  Candidates include (in no particular order)….Tommy Edman, Harrison Bader, Randy Arozarena, Tyler O’Neill,  Adolis Garcia, Lane Thomas and the Cards brightest prospect, Dylan Carlson.  Veterans Dexter Fowler & Jose Martinez also have OF roster spots. Even though the MLB rosters in 2020 will have an additional spot …now 26 players…that’s still a boatload of Outfielders. I would expect Martinez to be moved prior to the start of the season….while he does have a relatively “strong” bat….his defensive liabilities are just too high. Edman has versatility…in fact, he played SS primarily in the minors. Last year, he was used @ 2b, 3b, & RF by the Cards. He DID bat .304…with an OPS of .869 (OPS—on base % + slugging %)…but …Rome wasn’t built in a day or a single year…and neither is a MLB player. We need to see him have 1000 AB prior to making a decision. Adolis Garcia…most remembered for falling down while pinch running in 2018 in a key post-season game is now 27 years old. He has become a “power” hitter in the minors. I see him becoming part of a trade package. Harrison Bader…one simple question…can he hit .240? His elite defensive skills and tremendous speed don’t require a slugger at the plate…but  the .205 average in 2019 is beneath acceptable standards. Tyler O’Neill, built like Popeye, has shown deep power ability but…..can he hit enough just to get on base? Seattle gave up on him and traded him to us for Marco Gonzalez in 2017. Gonzalez won 16 games last year and 13 in 2018. Thus far, that trade tilts heavily towards Seattle. Haven’t seen enough of Randy Arozarena , other than to see he possesses some outstanding athletic skills. Lane Thomas has demonstrated a short, sweet swing in a small sample size. Then, all the talk about 20 year old Dylan Carlson continues to get louder & louder.  The Cards are going to have to thin out this gaggle of OF. It’ll have severe impacts on the immediate future. The Cards have already thinned out OF previously and one has to wonder if the best decisions were made by MO & his boys. Pham was exiled to the Rays. There he’s  batted.277 , OPS avg of .844. Now 31 years old, Pham  seemed to have been moved to Tampa for non-baseball reasons. To some observers, his “edge” that drove him personally was a bit too much for the Cards when he lashed out at the team. So….he was moved.  Oscar Mercado was also moved in 2018, He went to Cleveland. I suppose that Mercado was thought to be behind Bader.  However, he had over 400 AB’s last year, played a very strong CF, OPS .761, , .269 average & 15 HR. We traded him for Conner Capel & Jhon Torres—who?  So basically, the Cards chose Bader over Mercado. So far…it doesn’t look too good to me. It doesn’t seem like we got much for an immediate every-day starter like Mercado. Soo…the Cards begin thinning again…here in winter 19-20 …watch it closely in the next 2 months.   My guess is that O’Neill & Garcia will be wearing different uniforms next year as the Cards try to deepen their starting staff and thin out the OF ranks.

 …..if the Mizzou attendance against SEC teams look thinner to you…it is! In 2014, it was 65,285; 2015-65,120; 2016-52,236; 2017-51,490; 2018-51,466. Sure…the  W-L record is very important but there is an additional factor that may be limiting non-student fans. The SEC football schedule doesn’t announce the starting times for games until the game is a week or 2 away. It doesn’t matter to the students…they’ll be there any time day or night. But,  to some fans driving in from the 2 largest metro areas of Missouri (StL & KC) it does matter. Starting times that vary from 10am, to 1pm, to 3pm to 6pm make it much more difficult to “plan the day” for the OOT fan.  This game time decision is done by SEC  so that the winning teams get the prime spots. But…if you..or the SEC… REALLY want OOT fans at the games …post the schedule with the times in the spring.

…the Heisman Trophy candidate list was thinner after Saturday’s game. Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa was injured late in the 1st half.  Alabama was leading 35-7, but Nick Sagan decided to let Tagovailoa play one more possession to get some work in the two-minute drill. He was injured during that drive. Tua will miss the rest of the 2018 season due to the injury.

….The time line is thinning out for a former NFL QB. Colin Kaepernick had his own personal workout for the NFL on Saturday. It was hastily arranged, on a Saturday when all NFL coaches are zeroed in on Sunday, there were 8 teams in attendance. Why the rush? Why even hold this very unique “workout” for a player 3 years out of the leage? CYA….the NFL is attempting to avert a discrimination lawsuit with the workout. They need some tangible evidence of deterioration in performance to justify Kaepernick not being on an NFL roster.

….The NHL season isn’t any where near thinning out but an observation from a casual Blues fan. When I do watch the Blues, there doesn’t seem to be that constant, deep in the zone, intense forechecking. To me, that’s what carried them to the Golden Stanley Cup Land last year. My early “take” on newly acquired defenseman, Justin Falk I, is that he’ll probably help us in the playoffs but doesn’t look too special to my untrained eyes at this point.

…I had the chance to see SLU basketball last week. It was exciting to watch St Mary’s grad, Yuri Collins perform. He ignited the offense with crisp, classy passes to teammates that often resulted in dunks or wide open jumpers. He ran the show! Now, the opponent that night will never be found in the top 25 but Yuri is for real!  I’d suggest ..if you are a basketball fan…take in a Billiken game….they’re fun to watch as Yuri leads the offense with his golden passes.

….their schedule is thinning out….Mizzou lost to Florida last Saturday. More significant to me than the loss (Florida is simply better) is the lack of discipline for the Tiger players…who commit senseless personal fouls in key spots.  However,  there seems to be no limit  to the  unlimited supply of uniforms. I don’t recognize them from week-week. Maybe Walmart had a sales special on Uniforms? Don’t worry though…MU will whip Arkansas in the last game and qualify for a bowl with 6 wins. It’ll probably be the “Make-Believe” Bowl in Mayberry, Alabama with a starting time close to 10am about 2 weeks after Thanksgiving. Exciting, heh?

…as the college football season thins out….my weekly top 4 has a change. I watched the tremendous Oklahoma come-back against an unbeaten Baylor team. That was a signature win. My new top NCAA-F top 4:  1) LSU   2) Ohio State   3) Oklahoma  4) Clemson (unbeaten but a soft schedule). Putting a Big-12 team into the playoffs seems tough for the NCAA.

…..to wrap it up….special Kudo’s to Larry Kindbom (Washington U’s Head Football Coach). He held the title of Head Coach for 30 years. Prior to his arrival, Wash U struggled in football.  He turned that around andwon 219 games in his 30 years. But….like all really “good” coaches… he’s remembered for much more. He always mentions all the Doctors, scientists, and leaders of the community that he’s coached. He worked with HS coaches. He was a TRUE coach in the fullest sense of the world…he coached all about life…thanks to Larry for all his contributions.

Comments

  1. Good reading and good insights on the Cardinals Bob.

  2. Couple comments says:

    Larry had the hardest coaching position at ole Wash U. Tackle ball is the hardest team sport to be successful on the national level. One simple reason, you need way too many good players to win. On both sides of the ball there has to be quality, and at a place like WU there is only so much athletic quality and lots of intellectual QUALITY.
    Larry,was ,and continues to be, a great human being as was Mark Edwards. Joey Clark is right there with those fellows as well. JC
    ——————————————————————-

    With the MLB GM meetings completed (where the feeling out period takes place) look forward to the MLB Winter Meetings In December, where more action should take place… trades, free agent signings.
    After last years late FA action ( Harper,Machado,Kimbrel, Kuechel) I expect players to be more anxious to get a deal and be ready for spring training. (Ask Kimbrel if this late signing strategy is worth it)
    With this being said, I do not expect the Cardinals to chase any free agents. Expect young outfielders to be moved for a 4 th / 5th type starting pitcher. Their hands being tied with Carpenter/Fowler contracts limit “ room” for any upgrades outside the organization.
    I respectfully disagree with this columns author that J Martinez gets moved. Solid pinch hitter and unless an American League team needs a DH, his defensive liability won’t excite any trade partner.
    Front office post season presser stated that they don’t expect much salary flexibility. The $17 mil qualifying offer to Ozuna is about all they would spend, now that Marcel will take his neon sleeve elsewhere.
    Net… they better find 25-30 homers/ 90 RBI somewhere! The answer…Mike Moustakas! JP1

  3. What a legend and I like what you pointed out is he Complimented what his players did after football! I agree with ya about SEC football scheduling–It’s a joke how they wait to last sec to schedule these MIZ football games. They don’t do this in mens basketball!!
    I want the Ducks (oregon) to get in the football Play-offs!
    SLU got smoked yesterday–French needs to work on the free throw shooting. Have a great day!
    MB

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