2015 St. Louis Cardinals’ Season Review: What now?
We are now in day six of the offseason, and I am having Cardinals’ baseball withdrawals. It feels like any day now that they’ll be back, but here we are in the very beginning of the five month offseason which always seems too long.
The good news is, continually talking and thinking about this team will make the offseason go by very quickly. In my fourth installment of the “Season Review”, I want to talk about where the team will go from here. If you haven’t already, make sure you take a look at my takes on the Surprises, Disappointments, and Top Performers
Every offseason, fans are asked, “What do you want the team to do in the offseason?” and you hear them say “go sign a big free agent hitter or go sign another starting pitcher,” look I respect most fans and think they mean well. However, in terms of this team, you really have to examine many different things. You have to take into effect the history, the scope of the farm system, and who is on the roster.
This team is not going after David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, or any other free agent starting pitcher for that matter. Why? All this team has to do is enter spring training with a healthy and motivated Adam Wainwright and this team automatically gets better. Also, the club has several young pitchers itching to get their chance to be in this rotation should an injury occur or the Cardinals fail to bring back one of John Lackey or Jaime Garcia.
Also, this team has not brought in a big name starting pitcher (via Free Agency) in some time, it has always been low hanging fruit guys like Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse. This is for good reason, the Dewitts and John Mozeliak are smart and saavy businessmen who know the limits of this organization and know the reasons why this club has been successful (talent development). So, Cardinals’ fans please stop asking for David Price, please.
Mozeliak has also already determined that first base will be an open competition between Stephen Piscotty, Brandon Moss, and Matt Adams in spring training, so if that doesn’t squelch your Chris Davis dreams, I don’t know what will.
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So, instead of going and spending all of the money on free agents like Price and Davis, the team will focus on retaining Jason Heyward and other outgoing FA the club wants to bring back. Also, by not going into FA to spend money on a big name the club has the money to extend and lockup a player like Kolten Wong or Carlos Martinez.
For more on free agents and who the Cardinals could go after, check this post out.
The easiest guess for which top prospect will come up and perform next is Alexander Reyes, the young stud starting pitcher from the Dominican Republic, that fellow editor Chris Gigley previewed the other day. Reyes, is by all accounts is really really good and having him potentially join the rotation next year will be really exciting.
Another prospect, that I could see coming up and making an impact is Aledmys Diaz. Diaz (whom I talked about when I looked at September call-up possibilities), had struggled a bit in the first half of the season, but he turned things around during the second half and has earned a look in the Arizona Fall League this season. Diaz could be a big factor if he comes and up performs, as he could be a really good backup for Jhonny Peralta and Matt Carpenter.
Where will Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham play?
I am a huge Piscotty and Pham fan. I enjoyed what they brought to this team in the playoffs and the second half of the regular season. However, I know that we can’t expect them both to come in and perform exactly like they performed in 2015 as pitchers will adjust and pitch to them differently and we will have to see them adjust as well.
I see Piscotty as either the starting first baseman or a super sub in the OF and 1B (this is assuming Heyward is signed) kind of like Allen Craig was in 2011.
However, I want to caution you Cardinals’ fans about Tommy Pham. In 52 games and 153 AB Pham hit .268/.347/.477 with 17 extra-base hits (five homers, five triples, and seven doubles), those are some pretty good numbers. The concern here is Pham’s BABIP combined with his average. Pham had a fairly high BABIP of .333 for only having a .268 average and as Pham only played two full seasons in the minors, it’s hard to find what is normal for Pham.
One comparison I find that scares me a little is Joe Mather, I remember when he came up in 2008 and was mashing homers and impressing Tony Larussa enough to play him regularly which was a surprise. In 54 games and 133 at bats Mather hit .241/.306/.474 with 15 extra-base hits (eight homers and seven doubles) with a pretty low BABIP of .255. Mather then struggled through injuries and other things never being able to replicate his numbers at either the minor league level or the major league level, last playing in 2013.
I am not saying Mather=Pham, what I am saying is that we have to be cautious as fans with Pham. Pham is not going to replace the perennial All-Star Matt Holliday anytime soon. Also, for all of you worried about Matt Holliday, it was just a quad injury. He’s not falling apart. Lay off.
That does it for the 2015 Season Review, thanks for reading!