Where Have You Gone Jason Heyward?

I’m late to the party on the topic du jour for Cardinal Nation.  I’m late to the party for a reason, though.

I am a person who wants to have as many facts as possible before I draw any conclusions.  My legal training made me this way.  It’s not that I never make emotional, on the spot judgments, just that I make them infrequently. When I have made them, I have mostly come to regret them later.

On the topic of Jason Heyward and his defection, if one were to call it that, to the Cardinals longtime rival the Chicago Cubs, I have stayed mostly silent.  The reason, in a nutshell, is that I don’t have any idea what the hell happened.  How does one point fingers, if pointing fingers is your thing, without knowing who knew what and when did they know it?  If Cardinals fans can be likened to the Watergate Commission, then where are the tapes?

The facts I know, or think I know more likely, are that the Cardinals made a $200 million dollar offer spread over a number of years, perhaps 10, perhaps 9.  I don’t know if there was an opt out, though some sources have claimed there was.  I actually know more about the Cubs offer, 8 years $184 million dollars, two opt out clauses.  Some information exists that it was front loaded, though that particular detail is a little murky.

The Cardinals offer, be it 9 or 10 years, would have an average annual value between 20 and 22 million.  The 20 million AAV figure is what I seen bandied about more often, so let’s go with that.  The Cubs offer has an AAV of 23 million, so right there that is more yearly income in Heyward’s pocket.  If the contract is frontloaded that is even more income in his pocket sooner rather than later.  The opt out clauses have their own value, especially with a frontloaded contract.

So what we have here is clearly a better deal from the Cubs.  Anyone (I am looking at you Post Dispatch) who rings the “total value” bell to suggest otherwise is being intentionally disingenuous.  Jason Heyward didn’t jilt the Cardinals, he isn’t a “trader”.  Jason Heyward took the best deal offered him, as 99% of major league baseball players would.  Lance Berkman once said it’s always about the money, and he wasn’t kidding.

So where does that leave Cardinal Nation in their efforts to judge the actions of John Mozeliak and Co.?  Clearly they whiffed on this one, right?  If everything that is known is taken at face value, then yeah, Mozeliak whiffed worse than 1 in 3 Randal Grichuk plate appearances.

Let’s hold on a minute though, and put on our Watergate Commission eyeglasses.  Did the Cardinals make their last and best offer with all knowledge available to them, and it just didn’t cut it?  Or were there, as Mozeliak claimed on KMOX Sports radio on Sunday, “circumstances out of our control”? Well, your guess is as good as mine, only certain people know and they ain’t telling.  If such circumstances existed, what exactly were they and how did they prevent the Cardinals from securing their prize?  Again, who knows?

This is why I can’t get out my pitchfork and torch.  Without the necessary information, and the likelihood of getting that information is somewhere between winning the Power Ball and flying to the moon on gossamer wings, my pitchfork has to stay in the barn and my torch has to remain unlit.  It’s all rather convenient for John Mozeliak, don’t you know Robbie Cano, but that is the way this game is played.

What Mozeliak does between now and Spring Training may be more telling anyway.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

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So Long Jon Jay, Hello Jedd Gyorko?

I admittedly wasn’t expecting the Cardinals to do much at the Winter Meetings, despite all the buildup and rhetoric by the media that the Cardinals were going to be big players.  It seemed to me that knowing how they stood with Jason Heyward was going to be the sticking point for any other deals, and well, I just don’t see Heyward making a decision this soon.  Maybe he will, but I am skeptical.

I was wrong partially it seems.  The Cardinals did make a deal, albeit not a big one.

It was announced today that the Cardinals have traded outfielder Jon Jay to the San Diego Padres for infielder Jedd Gyorko.  The one unique thing about John Mozeliak is that he could have a second career as a CIA agent.  That man can keep a secret better than any baseball guy I have ever encountered.  It always seems like Cardinal deals come out of absolutely nowhere.  Like Siberia.  No anticipation, no buildup, no leaks.  Boom, there it is.

I am not complaining, necessarily.  It certainly creates drama, if drama is what you want.  I don’t particularly want it, but I don’t hate it either.  Anyway, there are good reasons for a GM keeping his intentions to himself, and I am all for that.  I have been involved in enough negotiation in my legal career to know the best poker faces have the most success long term.

So, back to the trade.  I wasn’t a big fan of Jon Jay because I believe he only had one decent tool and it was likely declining.  Losing him doesn’t bother me as much as it might others.  I do have reservations but for other reasons.  Those reasons follow.

Everyone makes a big deal about the Cardinals’ outfield depth.  If one is talking about quantity, then the observations about depth are correct.  However, if quality is your thing then perhaps some reservations are in order.  Here is what I mean.  The current outfield depth consists of Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk, Tommy Pham, Stephen Piscotty, and in a pinch, Brandon Moss.  If the Cardinals sigh Jason Heyward, that improves the situation immensely, but there is no guarantee Heyward will be in the mix.

Matt Holliday has been a terrific get for the Cardinals and has more than provided value for the money that has been spent.  He is, however, soon to be 36 years old, was never good defensively and is declining as we speak.  I expect the injury bug to stalk him more in the coming years.  He will still provide offensive value, just not as much as he used to.

Randal Grichuk is a complicated player.  He clearly has power, and above average defensive skills, though just how much above average is yet to be determined.  Unfortunately he also has low on base skills, high strike out skills, and below average plate discipline.  That’s not to say some or all of those things can’t be improved, but as it stands now, there are definitely holes in his game.  His numbers from 2015 are impressive, but those numbers are based on a very shaky foundation.  Grichuk sported a high .365 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) in 2015.  Unless one is convinced that Grichuk is the second coming of Ty Cobb, that BABIP is coming down, and when it does, guess what else comes down?  Many of those impressive 2015 numbers.  Which ones and how much is the question, so the bottom line is you shouldn’t count on Grichuk being as good in 2016 as he was in 2015.

We have seen 173 PAs and 328 fielding innings of major league performance from Tommy Pham.  That’s it.  Talk about your small sample size.  Pham had some good numbers in the minor leagues, and that counts for something, but it proves very little.  How many players have done well in the minors and totally tanked in the majors?  Too many to count.  The small sample size numbers are encouraging, so I am in no way writing off Tommy Pham, but I wouldn’t bet my entire month’s income on him either.  Add to this his checkered injury history, and well, Tommy Pham is a big lottery ticket.  A soon to be 28 year old lottery ticket.  Let us all hope the odds of winning this lottery are better than Power Ball.

I like Stephen Piscotty.  I think he will be at least an average major league player.  That said, I have similar misgivings about his 2016 performance that I do about Grichuk’s.  That BABIP.  It was even higher than Grichuk’s, and the likelihood of having one Ty Cobb on the team is out there enough, but two?  If you believe both Grichuk and Piscotty are going to sustain those 2015 numbers, then do I have a deal for you.  I have this great beachfront property in the Midwest………..

So there is your 2016 Heyward-less Cardinals’ outfield, folks.  What?  Okay throw Brandon Moss in there, do you feel better?

You ask, what does she know?  Not much really.  I fully acknowledge that the Cardinals know more than I do about the situation.  In fact, that is what I am counting on.  I was a big Bourjos supporter (still am) and the Cardinals didn’t think much of him, because they gave him away for nothing, so I expect no one to take my opinions as anything more than my opinions.  But I stand by them, right or wrong, and being wrong has never bothered me.  I want the Cardinals to succeed more than I care about being right, which is not much.  I can suck up my disappointments and move on.

Good luck to Jon Jay, by the way.  I don’t have much to add about Jedd Gyorko, other than based on his performance with the Padres I am not particularly impressed.  As long as he doesn’t take playing time away from better players (do you hear me Mike Matheny?) I won’t complain for now.  I reserve the right to complain later though, should the need arise.

SIGN JASON HEYWARD.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

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