MOVING ON FROM HARPER
COMMENT: Agreed with you all along that the chances of the Cardinals signing Harper were no more than 5 percent. And it looks like 1 percent just became zero.
GORDO: That’s fair. The Cardinals stayed in touch to see if the Harper market would take a surprising turn south, but there are too many teams willing to spend giant money this winter. Now it’s time to focus on fortifying the team weakness, the bullpen, while seeing what Jedd Gyorko and perhaps Jose Martinez could fetch in a trade. I’d keep the low-cost Martinez as bench strength and protection, but if another team wants to offer up a worthy reliever . . .
Follow-up: ‘Mo’ mentioned the need for lefty relief, lefty utility player, and a backup catcher. What about these choices for those spots: Miller/Britton, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Nick Hundley?
GORDO: Andrew Miller could be a great get as reliever who can work lefties and righties. Hundley would be a big upgrade over Francisco Pena, so that’s a thought. As for Cabrera, he hit righthanders very well last season — but this is a guy used to playing every day. I’m not sure the Cardinals would have enough work for him.
DOES A ‘GOLDY’ EXTENSION MEAN NO ARENADO?
QUESTION: Does a Goldschmidt extension, meaning Carpenter stays at third, preclude the Cards from chasing Arenado next summer?
GORDO: The odds of the Cardinals winning the Nolan Arenado Sweepstakes were about as long as the team outbidding the world for Bryce Harper. They would be even longer if Goldschmidt re-ups. One, this franchise remains unlikely to ever give one of the top two or three biggest contracts in the industry. Two, the team’s top two hitting prospects play third base. Unless both Gorman and Montero crap out, I don’t see the Cardinals getting anywhere near that bidding.
Follow-up: Between Nolan Gorman and Elehuris Montero, who do the Cardinals feel has the higher upside? If they both continue to progress, would we expect one to make a position switch, and if so, who would be most likely?
GORDO: Gorman may have slightly higher upside simply because he demonstrated freakish power at a young age. What happens after three of four years of natural maturation and professional training? As for fielding, both have only played third base in the minors and both have some work to do. Impossible to predict which one of the two is more likely to move across the diamond.
BLOW UP THE BLUES AND START OVER?
QUESTION: If you’re the GM of the Blues, who (if anyone) is untouchable? Is a relatively complete rebuild in order?
GORDO: It appears this season is lost, so a thorough makeover is in order. I would not trade Vladimir Tarasenko, whose $7.5 million salary cap hit through 2022-23 is very team friendly. Goal scorers are very hard to find. I used to have Alex Pietrangelo in the untouchable category, but his contract is up after next season and could command giant money if he gets his game back to last season’s level. Pietrangelo could become quite a trade chip once he gets back in the lineup.
Obviously veterans with expiring contracts (Bouwmeester and Maroon in particular) figure to get offered around the league for a draft pick. Maroon has some limited no-trade protection and JayBow has a no-trdae clause, but they want off the sinking ship if better teams throw them a rope.
To a follow-up question about whether the Blues should “tank and rebuild,” Gordo replied:
I can see a full makeover, for sure, but deliberate losing could cost this team massive revenue and make rebuilding the attendance base very difficult. We saw how hard it was to do that the last time the Blues tanked, under Bill and Nancy Laurie. The Blues will likely have a high draft pick this season and I would expect the team to add more picks by dumping veterans. But this team also has a nice group of prime-age players plus and decent pile of prospects.
WOULD STILLMAN REPLACE ‘ARMY’?
QUESTION: The Blues are a slow team that doesn’t hit — bad combination. I don’t trust GM Armstrong to fix it, because he created it. Blues need a hockey man as president to oversee the remake this team. Stillman has to suck it up and fire Armstrong and bring in someone now to start the rebuild.
GORDO: Yeah, I’m wondering if Stillman is seeking advice from somebody outside of the current Who’s Who list of Blues executives about what to do next. It seems a lot of teams are hiring Boy Wonder analytics guys to replace the old school GM. There are also ex-players like Chris Pronger learning the ropes elsewhere. While Armstrong ponders his next moves at coach and in goal, I can’t help but wonder if Stillman is seeking independent counsel on the potential rebuild.
Follow-up: If Army could have a do-over on any trade, what do you think it would be? My guess would be Ben Bishop.
GORDO: Bishop has been hurt a lot, but he has held up better than Allen. Armstrong would take Hutton back in a heartbeat. Also, he would also undo the Bozak signing since the subsequent O’Reilly trade covered that team need far more positively.
Follow-up: If you could make one “magic” move and get what you want for the Blues what would you pick: a quality coach (like Q?), a goalie, top-flight D man, or a quality RW (Laine type).
GORDO: The right coach to wake these guys up would have the biggest impact, followed by adding a goaltender capable of stealing game after game.
FOWLER GUARANTEED TO START?
QUESTION: If Dexter Fowler isn’t one of the happiest Cardinals on the team right now, he should be. Goldschmidt’s arrival just assured Fowler of starting in right field, at least on Opening Day. Agree?
GORDO: If Fowler is brutal in spring training and O’Neill blows up Florida with his bat, I could see the Cardinals going with the guy more likely to help this team win games. Fowler was arguably the worst position player in baseball last season, so I don’t imagine he is guaranteed anything. Obviously the Cardinals hope against hope that the ’17 version of Fowler returns, but we’ll see.
MOVE CARP, BAT BADER AT LEADOFF?
QUESTION: Is there any consideration of moving Carp out of the leadoff spot now that the Cards have Goldschmidt? Bader just seems ideal, and Carp in the 3 hole followed by Ozuna and Goldschmidt is quite a lineup.
GORDO: Matt Carpenter has proven, quite vividly, that he absolutely, positively cannot function anywhere in the batting order but leadoff. Harrison Bader has appealing speed, but not the on-base percentage to lead off. He is a No. 8 hitter until further notice. He has a lot to prove as a hitter at this level.
DOES CARDS’ LINEUP STILL NEED A BOOST?
QUESTION: Fowler potentially is in the starting lineup? Then another bat is needed because Fowler, Wong and Bader scare no one. Yadi is a year older with no backup. Looks like Cards need career years from over half of the starters to compete for a playoff spot. Whatever happened to winning the World Series, not settling for the wild card?
GORDO: I’ll remind you when the Cardinals won World Series, they did so with teams that were hardly juggernauts. Management had the same philosophy then as it does today. Nothing has changed.
Now, the industry has changed and it’s fair to ask for more. I believe this team should aim for 100 victories each year, not 90. Could this team get there? With a lockdown bullpen, yes. As for a lineup adding Goldschmidt, it could outperform last year’s group by a notable margin if the team doesn’t suffer the sort of long-term and/or debilitating injuries last year’s team did. If Wong, Fowler and Ozuna hit anything like they did in 2017, that will be a nice lineup.
WHO STAYS, WHO GOES IN 2019?
QUESTION: By adding Goldschmidt, the Cardinals now have to look what player will have to be moved if we carry 13 pitchers. 8 position players: Molina, Goldie. Wong, DeJong, MCarp, Ozuna, Bader, Fowler, 1 backup catcher. 3 of 4 other bench: Gyorko, JMart, Munoz, O’Neill.
Who would stay: Munoz, O’Neill or a 12-man pitching staff?
GORDO: Munoz’s ability to play seven positions make him an ideal bench player. O’Neill needs to play, so if Fowler rebounds and holds up in right field, O’Neill could see more Triple-A time. Personally, I would keep Jose Martinez unless another team offers a valuable reliever for him, since Martinez hits well in a part-time role. I assume this team will be able to move Gyorko in a trade, since the organization has a couple of decent utility infield prospects behind him with Sosa and Urias.
I see the team shifting between a 12- and 13-man pitching staff next season depending on need. Given the amount of young pitchers in the mix, that would make sense.
HOW DOES THE TEAM SEE O’NEILL?
QUESTION: How do the Cardinals view Tyler O’Neill? A guy that just needs more time to develop? A low-end everyday player, because some of his flaws can be helped but won’t be completely fixed? Or, a 4th outfielder?
GORDO: Right now he is Randal Grichuk. He can go get a fly ball, which makes him valuable. He can crush home runs, which makes him valuable. But can he reduce strikeouts and hit for a reasonable average someday? If so, he could become an everyday player. With Ozuna a year removed from free agency, it will be important to give O’Neill every chance to reach his ceiling. That process could include more Triple-A time to make sure he is getting the ABs.
WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE BLUES THIS SEASON?
QUESTION: What is your take on what went wrong with the Blues this season? On paper, they should be jockeying for first in the Central with NSH and WPG! Also, how many games in a season can you show up and not put forth the effort to win?
GORDO: The Blues are sort of the opposite of last year’s Vegas Golden Knights. That team played over its head all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, riding collective spirit and will to win. This team lacks both and consistently plays below it’s ability. This team isn’t THAT slow, but it plays slow. For 10, 20 or even 30 minutes at a time it can pin an opponent in, then it folds up. Guys skate in with clean looks at the goaltender and, for whatever reason, force off-target passes rather than take the obvious shot. At the most inopportune time they commit glaring turnovers.
And when they really need a big save, often Jake Allen fails to make it. We could go on and on, but you’ve seen the games.
Follow-up: Is there still a holdout that the Blues go on a major winning streak and pick up 34 points in 20 games? That looks like our best hope.
GORDO: Yeah, well, don’t count on it. The coaching change had no impact on the team, so I’d expect significant change. The good news is the first-round pick the Blues spent to get O’Reilly is top 10-protected, so odds are the team will add another high-ceiling prospect to the pile.
POSSIBLE THAT THE XFL COULD SUCCEED?
QUESTION: Is there any chance the new STL football team or league succeeds? Can the XFL’s business plan be described in two words: “tax writeoff”?
GORDO: I believe the XFL could stick around for a while if it can keep payroll in line. But given the amount of pro and college football on TV during the season, is there much appetite for a second season in the spring? Now, if that league can last several years and become worthy to wager on, the legalization of gambling could help keep it alive.
Follow-up: Do you think the NFL will exist in 2050?
GORDO: In some form, yes. In a recognizable form . . . that’s the question. In another 10 years we will know a lot more about concussions, and it won’t be good.
WHAT’S FAIR FOR MIKOLAS?
QUESTION: What would you consider to be a fair number to extend Miles Mikolas?
GORDO: Tough one! He looked legit last season, but that is one season. He pitched like a $20 million man . . . but, again, that was one season. As a hedge, maybe two years and another $30 million?
WHY WON’T SLU AND MIZZOU PLAY?
QUESTION: Why won’t SLU and Mizzou play each other in basketball each year. Every fan wants to see it.
GORDO: The politics of that gets tricky. Mizzou would prefer that SLU go back to being a so-so program so it would be less competition for local talent. That said, if Ford stays and SLU keeps winning, I could see a big-money game at Enterprise Center to benefit both athletic departments.
Follow-up: How long until Mizzou is relevant again in basketball?
GORDO: Missouri was relevant last year when it got back to the NCAA Tournament. Will it ever be a consistent Top 25 team again? Hard to say, given the miserable fan support, but Cuonzo Martin’s commitment to tough defense and ability to recruit the region should keep the Tigers competitive for many years.
PARAYKO ON THE TRADE BLOCK?
QUESTION: We’re starting to hear Blues trade rumors and, specifically, Parayko’s name is coming up. Safe to say he is one of the issues? Is he an uncoachable player? Or is this the team just giving up on him because he is not physical?
GORDO: Parayko’s name comes up a lot because other teams would love to have him. He is a huge asset right now with a fair contract and there is potential for much more. D-men are hard to find, so I wouldn’t trade this guy unless a Mitch Marner-type player was coming back.
FINDING A BACKUP FOR MOLINA
QUESTION: Crazy thought here: any chance the Cards could make a move for J.T. Realmuto? Yadi isn’t getting younger and injury concerns have to be there with his age. Marlins are apparently seeking outfielders, which the Birds have.
GORDO: Let’s be real here. As long as Molina is ambulatory, he is the everyday catcher and his back-up will have to accept the caddy role. Period. So the Cardinals will target their back-up accordingly and hope Knizner is ready to take over if Molina suffers another long-term injury.