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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Something There Is That Doesn’t Love A Wall

If you aren’t of a literary bent (I am) you probably won’t recognize where the title of this post comes from.   It is the opening line from one of my favorite poems, “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost.  Poetry can be too esoteric for some, and it is certainly open to many interpretations.  I have always believed this poem was about the boundaries of human relationships and perceptions, and how those are affected by culture, age, environment, and other factors.  The author’s use of the word “wall” for one of the neighbors and “fence” for the other, I think demonstrates this dichotomy of perception.

Well, what does this have to do with baseball exactly?.  I could launch into an exposition on how we as Cardinals fans perceive what goes on with our team in many diverse ways.  I am certainly capable of it.  But I won’t.

Actually, this post is literally about a wall; the center field wall at PNC Park to be exact.  Last night, a long fly ball was hit by Starling Marte to the left center field wall.  Peter Bourjos attempted to scale the wall to catch it, as he is perfectly capable of doing.  Unfortunately, Bourjos timed his jump incorrectly and was unable to snag the ball.  It fell to the ground, and became a triple for Marte.  Fortunately, Marte was stranded at third base, and no run scored that inning.

Despite the lack of actual harm to the Cardinals in that inning, (in fact, much worse happened later in the game that had little to nothing to do with Peter Bourjos) that failed catch has resulted in some quarters in much criticism of Bourjos.  In fairness, some of that criticism may be motivated more by the fact that Bourjos hasn’t hit in 3 games, but the topic of the failure to catch that ball has lent itself to questioning of Bourjos’ much lauded defensive skills.

As was alluded to in the previous paragraph, Bourjos has played in exactly 3—count em—3, games.  Yet that miniscule sample size has not prevented some in Cardinal Nation from feeling less than splendid about Bourjos.  I would like to point out a few things here which I think are being overlooked.

First, until this season, Bourjos has played his entire major league career in the American League.  Other than the handful of interleague games every season, he has had little to no experience with playing the outfield in National League Parks.  Infields are the same in all major league parks; outfields, not so.   There is quite a variance in dimensions of outfields across all 30 major league parks.  That is why many offensive stats are often adjusted for the size of the park in which they are hit.

According to Baseball Reference, Peter Bourjos has played the outfield in PNC Park exactly one time in his career.  That one time was last night.

The left center field wall in PNC Park is 10 feet high.  The left center field wall in Angels Stadium, where Bourjos previously played for half the season each year, is 8 feet high.  Given the 2 foot difference between the height of the wall he played in front of for the majority of his career, and the height of the wall he played in front of for the first time last night, is it that surprising that he misjudged the jump?

I have seen Peter Bourjos play center field many times in the last few seasons.  I know what he can do.  You don’t displace Mike Trout from a position if you are a slouch at it.  His defensive metrics speak for themselves.

As for his hitting, he has had 10 ABs.  If you seriously think you can draw a conclusion about his hitting from 10 ABs, well then why are you here reading this?  You are a prognosticating genius, you should be working at NASA or MIT or the Pentagon or some such place instead of wasting your time with me.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

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