Questions about ’18 Cards by Bob Ryan

The 2018 season is right upon us now…..as always there has been chatter all around the Lou since the 2017 World Series ended about what the Cards “needed to do”, “have to do”, “staying the same” etc, etc……since the first pitch takes place later this week……here are a few questions about the Cards… if the answers ….from play on the field & hitting in the batters box….result in a positive manner…things should be sunny for the Redbirds….here we go…..in no particular order….

  • Can Paul DeJong replicate his 2017 marks…he was voted #2 in the Rookie of the Year award for 2017…..last years marks of 422 ab, .280 avg, 22 dingers, 60 ribi’s…now he did strike out 107x last year…that’s 25% of his AB…seemed to keep a smile on all Cards fans…can he stretch those numbers out at the same pace for 162 games? Remember a guy names Aledmys Diaz in 2016? Diaz hit .300 in 404 AB with 17 HR in 2016….he was an all-star and was 7th in the ROY voting.
  • Adam Wainwright…..I think that this guy is one of the overall nicest, friendliest players that the Cards have seen in many years….further….he’s a real competitor….but….man….he’s 35 years old…he’s 4 years away from his last really “strong” year (2014-20 wins)…..last year his era was 5.11… gave up 140 hits in 123 innings…his WHIP was 1.5…..with only 123 innings…I mean…I really like the guy…but…clearly he’s past his prime….already having physical issues… Further…. I wish that he’d start every 6 days instead of every 5… how much do you REALLY expect of him?
  • I was…and still am….very happy about the acquisition of Marcell Ozuna. His bat seems quick & powerful….but last year was the FIRST and ONLY year of that type of production for Ozuna… and remember he had Stanton batting behind him…the 2017 marks of .312, 37 HR, 124 ribbies were fabulous….just a year earlier..2016 those marks were .266, 23 HR, 76 rbi’s and in 2015 those same categories looked like .259, 10 HR, 44 rbi’s…..will he get “good” pitches? Somehow…I don’t see anyone in a Card uniform that looks like GianCarlo Stanton in the warm up circle as Ozuna steps into the batters box.
  • The bullpen by committee will be a brand new road for Manifesto to travel…..in his history…it’s been ONE closer…get to the 9th and dial the number …in 2012—it was Motte… 2013 Mujica.. 2014&15 Rosenthal, 2016 Rosey & Oh…he used them over & over again because they were having success….pls note that each suffered arm “issues”after those years with thousands…. ok…only 70 appearances…now we’re to expect… Leone one night, Gregerson the next night…. then Lyons in the mix….this will be a major transformation for Manifesto in his style… will it happen?
  • Will this be the year that Kolton Wong actually plays on a daily basis? Can we get 145 games out of him?  He’s been on a yo-yo between the dugout & 2B for years now….live with his occasional error…his 0 for 4 days….so what.. his speed…his occasional “outstanding” defensive play balances out the errors…last year he hit .285 in 104 games…..injuries have been the cause …on occasion…but somehow he just doesn’t seem to get on the field enough from my perspective.
  • Is this the year that we finally mine some gold from our pitching “prospects”? We’ve heard .. it seems for years now…how many and how good our pitching prospects look…it seems that this entire group will be found on the Mt Rushmore of Starting Pitchers in a few short years…oops…. It should have been called Mt. Gibson….anyway…I’d like to remind everyone that the word “Prospect”  is close to Prospectors……we KNOW how many of the prospectors  actually found gold……it may or may not … be the same with our plethora of your pitching “prospects”….it’s time put up or shut up about the Great Prospects.
  • Jeff Gyorko was outstanding last year….but as the year progressed….he began seeing more breaking balls on the 1st pitch….which he never seems to swing at….often fell behind in the count… and was a different hitter than when he’s ahead in the count with a fastball on the way.
  • What’s the over/under for Dexter Fowler’s games played? Is it 125? Look at his games played from the last 5 years….2017-118; 2016-125; 2015-156; 2014-116; 2013-119….he seems to avoid DL time…but needs a “few days” here & there often enough to miss a lot of games.
  • Can Tommy Pham replicate his 2017 season after years & years in the minors? The recent revelation that his eye problems…oops…eyes issues have returned is troubling. Btw…I think that the Cards made a mistake in offering Pham only slightly above the minimum….now…will you wonder why…if he DOES become a star…that he’ll leave the Cards for some other team ASAP ?

There are questions about EVERY team…..I don’t intend on going through the run-downs on all 30 teams… I mean I DO have a life …. That being said…look at our ol’ friends…the Cubbies..

…OF questions…will Almora go forward or take a step back in his 2nd year in the OF…both of the corner OF are questionable about their hitting….Heyward & Schwarber…however their 2 man replacement crew….Ben Zobrist & Ian Happ play all over the field….so…they really do have a starting 10

….speaking of Zobrist….he’ll turn 37 in May…..in 2017 he hit .232 so maybe he’s on the steeper side of his decline than we noticed from afar….how fast will that decline accelerate?

….the bullpen was shaky last year….the acquisitions of Justin Wilson…who was horrible for the Cubbies after acquired last year….and Steve Cishek were aimed at bolstering the hard firing but erratic duo of Carl Edwards &  Pedro Strop. I can’t see Brendan Morrow being the same type of closer as Wade Davis… in fact …not even close to it….all those post season games in LA will catch up to him.

….injuries….the Cubs dealt with the injury of Wilson Contreras last year…one of their major stars…  but have yet to see Rizzo and/or Bryant miss many consecutive games….will it happen this year?

Some basketball thoughts…..

Last week wrapped up the HS bball season ..didn’t have a chance to kick it around…….so… want to highlight a couple dominant teams in Missouri that you may have missed or don’t know much about…no need repeating stuff that you already know…..on the girls side…

…Kirkwood HS Girls, 28-3, led by 7 seniors won back-back titles in Class 5  and were in the Championship game 3 consecutive years. Coach Monica Tritz, an Incarnate Word grad, has established a tremendous… yet oft overlooked program. In the 2018 STATE games….sectional, qtr, state semi & state championship games…the closest win was actually a 49-40 win over Oakville in round one! The 3 seniors who led the team were Mikayla Wallace…daughter of Jennings head Boys Coach, Travis Wallace; Jayla Everett..going to U of New Mexico next year and Jaidah Stewart. Stewart scored 2,037 points in her career and will be headed to U of Minnesota next year. The Pioneers aren’t expecting a major drop off next year with the return of the very talented Natalie Bruns.

…Class 3 Girls has been completely dominated by Strafford HS in the past 3 seasons. The Indians went 32-0 this season and are riding an 82 game winning streak with an incredible 95-3 record in the last 3 years under Head Coach Steve Frank. Strafford dominated the State Championship game as they trounced California….yes there IS a California HS in Missouri…..77-36. The twin duo of Kayley and Hayley Frank led the Indians….gee…that last name looks familiar. The sisters each went 9-for-10 shooting and had 20 and 22 points respectively.  Keep following this team next year….the longest consecutive winning streak in Missouri HS basketball is 102 games. It’s held by Marshfield 1987-90…..to top if off…it was the 500th victory for Coach Frank in his career.

Odds & Ends…

……only Coach Cal thought that his team was feeling overconfident with his pre-game “poison” speech…not many experts thought that the Kentucky Wildcats were REALLY in contention for the national title.. this club was not one of Coach Calipari’s best…by a long shot….they really only had two shots…dunks & long shots–3 balls… one has to wonder why they were so confident when they finished with 11 losses in the season….at any rate…K-State didn’t make them take the poison like Socrates…they just beat them. Now…if only Coach Cal could have just taught them to wait 90 seconds…while the winners celebrate…. to shake the hands of the winners.

….I don’t think that it’s coincidence that the Blues are playing very well recently….Jaden Schwartz has returned to the lineup and “back in shape” after missing several games due to injury. Often, the difference in hockey is very,very tiny….goals are scored just inches away from the goaltenders; shots fly by defenseman by inches, passes reach teammates just inches beyond the reach of defenseman….you get the idea….so when a talented player like Schwartz returns…he can find the tiny openings to success

…Bob Huggins …W.Virginia team got “had” in their game against #1 Villanova….ahead in the game with their defense throttling the Nova offense in the 1st half…..WV got called for 4-5 “touch” fouls within about 3 minutes that changed the complexion of the game. Even the analyst said something like, “well…by rules these are fouls…there’s contact”….true…..but that isn’t how the game is called any longer…Nova got to the foul line early & often in the 1st half to gradually crawl ahead …then later…while ahead in the game and more comfortable…. got hot from the outside and won comfortably. You don’t think the referees know who’s seeded #1?  As my Dad used to tell me….”come on, pinch yourself”

….the darlings of the dance…Loyola…advance to the Final Four….this is exactly what the NCAA hopes to get….1 darling & 3 bluebloods….btw…Bruce Weber doesn’t portray a real good image with his in-game emotions…..down deep….he may have been thinking…I’ve gotta make this Final Four…it may be the last chance of my career…he was really pumping on emotions…previously, he finished as the NCAA-Runner Up in 2004-05 with Illinois..a long, long time ago

….btw….slim chances of Coach Porter Moser remaining @ Loyola after this year…..he has a Senior team and he can now “cash in” for his family when he signs a large contract with a Power 6 school

…speaking of the great matchups …..Kansas vs Duke yesterday was like Cards v Cubs; Army v Navy; Ali vs Liston;  Ohio St vs Michigan football; Yanks v Red Sox; Lakers with Magic vs Celtics with Bird, Flair vs Hogan… whoooooooo…there is ALWAYS anticipation and excitement for those real, long time, rivals to meet head-on in a crucial game.

….perusing through the 2018 Cards Schedule….Cards open with the Mets on March 29 in NY. On April  24-25-26 the Cards host the Mets. Their next series…..it’ll be in 2019!  Isn’t it rather foolish to complete the year long series with a team before the end of April?  Pls….let’s not blame the computer….humans can…and should .. check for such aberrations in the schedule. Btw…..the month of May & June look very favorable for the Cards…32 home games total and road trips against weaker teams.  July appears to be the toughest month of the season for the Cards.

….just listening to the Cards-Marlins spring games…..the Florida fans…both of them …..are in for a loooonnnnggggg season….that team is horrible. Too many MLB teams are also “tanking” ….using the TV income to show a profit despite fielding substandard teams.

….piggybacking on the last idea….Miguel Cabrera..was complaining recently…he’s on the Tigers who have gone into the “tanking” mode by shipping off as many quality players as possible….unfortunately… for the Tigers….Cabrera’s huge salary has him anchored to Detroit….the 34 year old has 15 years of MLB experience..2x MVP, 6x batting AL batting champion, has 462 HR, 1613 rbi’s has already earned $216m and is signed through 2025..40 years old @ $30m/year….it’s hard to feel sorry for him with that cash tumbling in….but…..all players love…or should love…to compete…he won’t be doing that in Detroit.

….with most MLB teams hunting for strong relief hurling….it’s a bit puzzling to see Greg Holland still on the FA market…..He led the NL in saves last year with 41…..Holland rejected a $15m player option and a $17.4m qualifying offer months ago and apparently wants to be on a contender…but like some of the other Scott Boras’ clients…..he has seen the price tag go DOWN on FA this winter and the contenders seemed to have already made their decisions on the closing role…poor guy …he’s going to have to “rough it” on a paltry $7-$10m this year…

….when the KC Royals biggest acquisitions this off-season were Lucas Duda & John Jay and they lost well known players like Eric Hosmer &  CF Lorenzo Cain but also saw their relatively unknown bullpen corp depleted with the departures of Scott Alexander, Joakim Soria, Mike Minor, and Peter Moylan. Our friends to the west of us may be in for a long…..tough….. 2018 season.

That concludes our questions..and ….some answers… for the day….thx for making it to the bottom.

Comments

  1. Good read Bob.

  2. Kevin Niewoehner says:

    In the case of Wainright, we can take advantage of the new 10 day DL rule, allowing Wainwright to skip a turn in the rotation without sacrificing a roster spot.

  3. I think Paul Dejong is the real deal and will be just fine. I do think having Jose back will be a plus for him. That’s one thing Diaz didn’t have…..a role model and coach like Jose. Jose will make the entire team better on defense, the bases and maybe even at the plate. I think Adam Wainwright has seen his better days. He’ll give it his best every game. He’ll have his moments and good games but the majority of the time he’ll be done by 4 – 5 innings at best. I thought that would be a great idea was to use Adam out of the bullpen and try him as the closer. Let him finish where he started and he might fill that closing position that so eludes the Cards. What we have isn’t good enough and by committee would be way too confusing for Matheny in my mind. He has trouble with pitching decisions any way and AW as closer makes sense to me. Isn’t Lance Lynn still in Free Agency? Maybe pick him up as Wainwright’s position starter. If you don’t go with AW as a closer go after Holland before somebody picks him up. I would like to see Wong play “everyday” until he makes it or breaks it. This in and out stuff is ridiculous in my mind. I think Gyorko is the same way…….he’s lost 35 lbs. and is in the best shape of his life (he says) so see if he can play every day. I’m not sure what they are going to do with Carpenter as he has really picked it up in spring training. I like Carpenter and he has a great eye at the plate. I like him at lead off as he didn’t strike out much (until last season). Not sure if that’s all about the coaches telling him to try to hit for the fences etc. but he has been a solid on base player other than last season. Dexter is a prima dona in my mind. I think he’s good but won’t play 115 games or more….he needs breaks to be 100%. I think Pham will do well again and is a competitor. We signed him at a bargain and he will leave when the contract is up. Enough on the Cards as they will be a mystery all season in my mind.
    JJ

  4. Hi Bob, looking forward to another season of Redbird baseball. Blues might make it by the skin of their teeth, but won’t go deeper than the first round, as is their custom.
    JH

  5. Flair versus Hogan!!! I love the analogy!

    Take care and have a great day!

    KL

  6. I think picking a winner before you play a season is silly. That’s why they play. Who picked Houston to win it all last year? Who picked LA to be in the World Series? That’s why we play the game. The rewards go to the teams that played the best ALL year.
    NCAA basketball, the same. Only 2 number 1 seeds advanced to the final four. There is an 11 seed in the final four. Wow. AGAIN, that’s why we play the games.
    Larry D

  7. Hey Bob
    I know you are fired up on Cards! I am not a big Matheny fan so I don’t really follow them.
    What a great March Madness! I would love to see David vs Goliath Game– Sister Jean vs Coach K–Ratings would hit the roof
    Mark

  8. The Cards better have some early success in the bullpen. Without some quality appearances, they have no chance. the starting line up will score runs ans will keep them in most games, but you have to have someone close out those games and I do not see who that might be at this time.

    As for the NCAA tournament, I said it last week and I repeat, they need to re-seed the teams at the sweet 16. The brackets were lopsided this past weekend with all of the quality teams on one side. The final four is the same, two number one’s playing in the semi’s and an eleven and a three on the other side.

    • Kevin Niewoehner says:

      Agree with B.K’s proposal. However any re-seeding should takeplace immediately after the final buzzer of the last round of 32 game. This is so teams can arrange flights and start preparing for their next opponent.

  9. Jim Pleimann says:

    All is right in the world as of Thursday. Baseball is here!
    See me on flag day for Cardinal predictions.
    By then the Matheny haters will be spewing venom, all will be saying Oquendo should be the manager, What was Mo thinking by not getting more pitching? And who is the closer? (it’ll be okay)
    Me, I will be staying cool, calm and collected. The Cardinals will be in the hunt – with a move or two needed to keep them in the thick of things. There will be no need to jump off the bridge.
    The Cubs don’t scare me as much this year….
    Oh…. and Let’s Go Blues! (if they make it, I don’t see a deep run for Lord Stanley’s Cup) But I do give them credit for a nice turnaround.
    Loved seeing Kentucky fall
    Seen as how both couldn’t lose, I think I was rooting for Duke.
    See ya Mickey Porter…. You sure didn’t show me too much. Good luck…
    Woooooooooo!!

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