To get a better sense of things we turned to Craig Mish to help us with assessing the St. Louis Cardinals’ offseason. We assess the Cardinals’ opinion of the closer market, their 2018 outlook, and even a little Star Wars talk.
I cannot thank Craig Mish enough for getting together with me last week. With all of the time he spent with me, it was impossible to get all of it in one post. So, today we have part two. Last week in assessing the St. Louis Cardinals’ offseason, we covered Tommy Pham and Marcell Ozuna‘s 2018, the Cardinals’ rotation and much more.
SM: What have you gathered about the Cardinals’ opinions on the remaining free agent closer options?
CM: They’re not going to tip their hand and they’re very good about that. Outside the Stanton/Ozuna situations, they keep things very very quiet. So, we really don’t know what they’re going to do. It appears as if Luke Gregerson is the guy in the 9th inning for them and he has experience doing it.
I know that very few Cardinal’s fans are comfortable with that and I think that’s fair because Gregerson wasn’t closing games for the Astros in their World Series last year either. I think he’s okay.
But, I think they can do better than that and I’m very surprised they haven’t gone out and made a bigger push to get somebody else. Whether that’s one of the free agents that’s out there or via trade. I think that they’ll approach this the same way (as the rotation).
If this is what they choose to do, I don’t agree with it. They will go into the season with Gregerson and if that doesn’t work then they’ll either acquire somebody or use somebody else (like a Dominic Leone). I don’t like that idea right now, I would feel more comfortable if they had somebody else.
Alex Reyes‘ name has been brought up a bunch, what I’ve been told is that Reyes is a non-factor for the team in April; he won’t pitch and then when he comes back in May he could be used out of the bullpen. As far as him being a closer, they would use him there potentially in a situation later in the season, but not right away. That would be done so that he gets the ability to build up to pitch back to back days, as he’s done in the past.
So, for me, that's the beef I would have as a Cardinals' fan. They need a closer, but they don't show any urgency in getting one. I don't love spending money on Greg Holland. So, I would go in another direction, maybe again going back to the Alex Colome discussions.
I'd hate to go into a season and lose games like they did last year and have it cost a playoff spot. Every game means something and Seung-hwan Oh for as great of a season he had two seasons ago just wasn't as good last year and it cost them a playoff spot.
Closing Market is Overpriced and Overrated
SM: I am in agreeance with you. I am not necessarily keen on the idea of spending money on Greg Holland given what we know about free agent closers in the past. However, they do need to grab somebody.
CM: Give the Cardinals' credit though, they've figured out in the past. They've had Oh, Trevor Rosenthal, Jason Motte, Ryan Franklin, Edward Mujica - so they've done it. You know, they're running a Major League club and you and I are not. They've proven us wrong almost every year and maybe they'll prove us wrong again with Gregerson.
I trust them more than I trust me. If it was me, I would make sure at least on the radar. Maybe Holland comes back to a two-year deal, that is something I would jump on. To give Greg Holland (or any closer for that matter) four years is insane. Those deals don't work out unless your name is Mariano Rivera or Kenley Jansen.
SM: What is then your opinion on what Wade Davis got?
CM: I think it's not a good deal, I would not have given him that money. The Cubs obviously didn't feel like they needed him, they signed Brandon Morrow for less money and they'll piece their club together. There are 30 closers every year that start the year and at the end of the season 12-15 still have the job. It's the most fluid position in all of baseball and guys flame out very quickly.
Look at Mark Melancon who got the money he got and flamed out in year one. Zach Britton couldn't pitch through his year last year and he was thought to maybe be the best closer in the American League. Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen has done it for a long time and I just think it's horrible money spent and teams have proven every year that you can find guys to pitch the 9th inning.
Cardinals' 2018 Outlook
SM: What is your outlook on the 2018 Cardinals team?
CM: I think as it stands right now they're probably a little bit better than they were last year. So, I would say that when their total comes out in terms of predictions, I would say I would pencil them in somewhere in the 83-84 win range.
I can't go higher than that right now unless I see a little bit more and I think they will do a little bit more. But, them finishing things off in the 9th inning for the first time last year was an issue. They virtually saw every offensive player that they had almost take a step back and then they saw the great performances that countered that with Paul Dejong and with Pham.
So, I think that if they're able to get one player to play first or third with the kind of power that can scare you in a lineup to put next to Ozuna and Carpenter, I think they'll be fine. That's a missing piece and I think the bullpen is a missing piece. I just find it hard to believe that this is the team that they're going into the regular season with.
So, looking at it right now, I see 83-84 wins and a team that falls a little short of the postseason but that could change. But, if they make a couple of subtle moves with the pitching or on an infielder, things could change quickly and I would add a couple more wins to that.
Can Paul Dejong repeat 2017?
SM: You mentioned Dejong's surprise 2017, do you see concern for him moving forward?
CM: Yes. He struck out a lot last year and he's going to have to cut back on that. I got a little burned last year with Aledmys Diaz. I thought we were looking at a player that was going to play every day for that team somewhere just because of his bat. Whether it was second or shortstop and maybe the defense just got in his head at some point and affected his offense.
I hope he succeeds in Toronto, he's one of the nicest Major Leauge Baseball players in the game today. Dejong's also a very nice kid, but the way this kid caught fire is going to very hard to replicate. I think they have to approach him differently than they did Diaz somehow.
They have to find a way to harness what he did from May on last year and continue it. The jury's still out on him for me a little bit because I didn't see what he did coming. I am not going to go back down the road and say that he could do it again with Diaz burning me so badly last year.
In Spring Training he (Diaz) was one of my favorites going in and it didn't work out at all.
SM: The Diaz trade shocked me. I thought what they got was low and I thought he was a better middle infield bench option than what they have.
CM: I am curious if they don't make a move, just how much they think of Jose Martinez. That's going to be interesting because he played so well in the spring and I thought he deserved more playing time. When he got it, he certainly made the most of his opportunities. Maybe their thinking is that they feel safe with Jedd Gyorko and Jose Martinez off the bench and that's why they haven't done anything.
The name that keeps coming up to me as a fit (I don't love it) is Logan Morrison. He lives in Jupiter, he could play there for a month. He hit a bunch of bombs from the left side last year and he can play first base. But, then you have to ask yourself "haven't they just gone through all of these guys in past few years, like Adams and Moss?"
It seems like a natural fit there, they could get him on a one-year cheap deal, and he could hit 30 homers and play first base. But, maybe Jose Martinez is that guy instead.
SM: Yeah Martinez is a good 4th OF/1B, but the concern for me is the middle IF backup option. Greg Garcia doesn't excite me, especially with his performance last season. Unfortunately, there are no reinforcements on the way for this position either.
CM: They have Delvin Perez who's years away, when he comes up he'll play every day for them. That's two to three years from now. So, yeah when you look at the minors they're not stacked with those kinds of players.
Star Wars fan or no?
SM: As you may have seen, we cover things differently here. Not only do we cover Cardinals' baseball and Blues' hockey, but we also cover Star Wars, Marvel, DC. So, the question is are you a Star Wars fan?
CM: I'm very big into Star Wars.
SM: What are your thoughts on The Last Jedi?
CM: I thought it was good. I think I probably have the same explanation that everybody else does. I thought it was fine for the series, it didn't blow me away. My thought is that Rogue One was better and I thought The Force Awakens was probably better also. But, I thought the movie was good.
I wasn't disappointed at all, I just thought the previous two movies that I saw were better. I could make a case for Rogue One better than TFA. TLJ just fell short of the others, nothing against it as it's own film; you just have to make comparisons to the other films.
If I give Rogue One an A and I give TFA an A, I think I give this one a B.
SM: I think you are spot on with your review here. It is right about where I have things as well. I also have the same thoughts about Rogue One. I could even make the case that it's the best film out of all of them, I think they hit a huge home run with that film.
CM: I went into that film with no expectations and after the first 20 minutes, I was a little concerned. After that, it was non-stop action and it was the perfect story. I felt it really fit in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It gave the old fans the shot of Princess Leia at the end and a little bit of Darth Vader.
I just thought that was excellent. I go see all of the movies immediately when they come out, as I grew up on these movies.
SM: Any opinion or expectation on the Solo movie?
CM: I'll go in probably with low expectations just like I did with Rogue One. I don't know much about it. I only know the few things that I have read online. It's a really good backstory to have him and Lando Calrissian and the story of how he meets Chewbacca.
It will be strange to see younger actors playing the characters, but they always find a way to mix enough historical background to make it worth it for everybody. My guess is the younger fans will really like it, but I am hopeful that it will be good.
Again, many thanks to Craig Mish for joining me last week in assessing the St. Louis Cardinals' offseason. If you would like more from Craig Mish, you can follow him on Twitter.
You can actually listen to Craig daily as he has a daily show from 8:00-10:00 every day on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio. If you want to listen to Craig and Jim Bowden talk about fantasy baseball and baseball in general. If you are interested in listening to Craig, take advantage of this great offer from Sirius XM Radio.
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