St. Louis Cardinals: Five Burning Questions
By Dan Buffa
St. Louis Cardinals baseball, albeit exhibition style, has begun. The past week, Cards writers have conducted a Q&A. My answers to burning questions.
Okay, so the St. Louis Cardinals questions weren’t actually burning. My email wasn’t so hot that my computer started to burn. Still, this time of year presents so many questions for a Major League ballclub that needs for info come in droves.
What will a player do this year? What are his expectations? United Cardinal Bloggers is a group of scrappy team writers who dish analytical takes 24/7 and once a year they set up a roundtable. A writer presents a question and the rest(maybe 4-6 people) respond with their take. Here are the questions and my take.
Question from Tom Knuppel/CardinalsGM-Do you believe the Cardinals are overly reliant on unproven to pick up the offensive side of the game in 2016? Why or why not?
My take-With the muscled up competition in the Central and N.L. period, Mo’s philosophy will be put to the test. Does he have enough hitting to support the pitching?
The way the Cardinals are built is getting by with subpar offense and great pitching. The 100 games won is a direct sign of pitching depth, young and “aging”. John Mozeliak and his team favored pitching in the draft for many years and it has shown the past two seasons where the offense has averaged meager outputs. Going forward, Mo seems to be leaning on that philosophy again.
Lance Lynn and John Lackey departed via injury and acquisition. Enter Adam Wainwright and Mike Leake. A healthy Marco Gonzales and Tim Cooney. Carlos Martinez is throwing bullpen sessions.The arms are all healthy. Jordan Walden’s healthy limb makes the bullpen unreal. Mozeliak has this pitching prepped in case another scoring lapse occurs.
The offense is a band of hypotheticals. “If” is a big word in camp this month. Such as..
If Matt Holliday gets back to 2013-14 production, he is good to go.
If Jhonny Peralta gets more rests, maybe he can get back to 2014.
If Stephen Piscotty hits like he did in 2015 over a full season, Heyward won’t be missed.
If Randal Grichuk just stays healthy….
And it goes on and on. Once Heyward was off the table, I don’t think Mo wanted anything to do with the remaining free agents. As juicy as Yoenis Cespedes looked(and still does to me), Mo put his buffet plate down and went back to the table. He was happy with “his kids”. At the Winter Warmup, Mo preached over and over about the ability of Piscotty and Grichuk to do big things in 2016 and beyond. He talked about the depth Jedd Gyorko provided and how Tommy Pham was looking 100%.
If divisions were won on the amount of players who came into spring training in the best shape of their lives, the Cards would win it today. It doesn’t work that way.
I do think Mozeliak is overly reliant on unproven talent to keep up with the Cubs and everyone else. He isn’t looking at Fangraphs projections for Piscotty and Grichuk. He doesn’t need to. Why? This strategy has worked for him before and often. He favors pitching depth and stated that pursuit right after Heyward signed with the Cubs. If you can’t find the bats you want, accumulate the one thing that wins championships. Pitching. The Cubs understand that. They ran into the Mets buzz saw and couldn’t win a game. Great pitching stops great hitting. That is Mo’s belief and it has worked. Also, if the trade deadline looms and the Cards need an upgrade, Mo will be there to deal. We’ve seen it happen many times before.
While it’s safe to state he is betting on a few more hypotheticals than usual(the OF depth is still scary), it’s hard to fault Mo’s plan. Unlike some GM’s, his success runs back quite a few years.
Next: Infield alignment issues?