The organizational vision for 2015 begins to focus

John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny spoke to the media this afternoon to discuss a little bit about how the season ended, but mainly where the club goes from here to prepare for the 2015 season. As a result of today’s discussion we now have begun to get a clearer picture of where Mozeliak intends to take the club over the offseason and what it’s goals are.

We heard from Bill DeWitt Jr earlier this week about payroll and their expectation that it will escalate in future years to accommodate rising salaries of their young players. He also made note that the team has the means to add another core player via free agency or trade if an opportunity presented itself. While he declined to say exactly how much he foresees payroll rising, it is confidence inspiring that the team will attempt to identify and retain some of its young players going forward.

Going into 2015, all of the coaching staff is expected to return. Mike Aldrete may be approached by at least one other team for an open position with them, but they have yet to ask permission to interview Aldrete. Personally, I’d like to see Aldrete move on and the Cardinals hire a veteran bench coach who can help Matheny manage the pitching staff better. Aldrete has been a hitting coach and a base coach and doesn’t have the background to really provide Matheny with experienced strategic advice when it comes to managing a bullpen. The combination of inexperience in both positions has hurt the Cardinals, in my opinion. [click to continue…]

Exit Interview: Tommy Pham

2014 Major League stats: 0-for-2, 2 K
2014 Minor League stats: .324/.395/.491, 10 HR, 44 RBI in 104 games in AAA
2015 Role: Outfield for Triple-A Memphis

Tommy Pham parlayed a career minor league season into a September call-up this year. After hitting .286 between Springfield and Memphis last season, he broke out this year in a crowded Memphis outfield that included at times Oscar Taveras, Randal Grichuk, and Stephen Piscotty. Not to mention Shane Robinson, who hit well in Memphis, on occasion as well. His St. Louis stint was short, but did manage to log four innings of solid work in the outfield.

He also played his way onto the 40 man roster just in time for protection from the Rule 5 Draft this winter. A formerly highly viewed prospect, Pham was a star in high school that fell to the 16th round of the 2006 draft. He struggled at the plate early on but it was discovered that he has an eye disorder that he has had surgery to repair in 2009. Since then he had a broken wrist, shoulder problems, and a litany of other issues that prevented him from staying on the field. But he rewarded the Cardinals’ faith this season and was tagged to keep, for at least one more year. [click to continue…]

Exit Interview: Audry Perez

2014 Major League Stats: 1 PA, 1 BB
2014 Minor League Stats: .292/.298/.419, 6 HR, 33 RBI in 62 games in AAA
2015 Role: Catcher in the minor leagues

Audry Perez made his Major League debut this season with the Cardinals as a stop-gap until the team figured out what to do after Yadier Molina went down with injury. He only managed to play two innings behind the plate during this season’s cup of coffee and had one plate appearance that resulted in a walk. At the time he, along with Tony Cruz, were the team’s only catching options on the 40 man roster. However, he was removed from it in September when the team called up Sam Tuivailala and Tommy Pham.

Overall, Perez is viewed primary as a catch-and-throw catcher, rated the system’s best a couple years ago, without much expected offensive output. I believe he meets the requirements to be a minor league free agent. I could see him take the opportunity to try another organization, perhaps one without a backlog at catcher. Molina and Cruz have the two spots on the Major League roster locked down and Cody Stanley is a fast rising catching prospect, so Perez’s future in St. Louis would be doubtful.

Exit Interview: Jorge Rondon

2014 Major League Stats: 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 IP, 1.000 WHIP
2014 Minor League Stats: 3.03 ERA, 51 G, 62.1 IP, 1.27 WHIP in AAA
2015 Role: Reliever for Triple-A Memphis

Jorge Rondon made the trip to St. Louis a few times this season, yet only found his way out of the bullpen once where he walked a batter, but otherwise threw a quiet inning of work. Despite being on the 40 man roster and finishing up the year strong in Memphis, Rondon wasn’t given an invitation to join the big league squad in September. A note I made on Twitter at the time because it wasn’t like the team had an abundance of quality options on the active roster.

Rondon is part of a large contingent of pitching prospects who will be looking for a spot in the St. Louis bullpen. He has spent the last two full seasons (and part of a third in Memphis where he has a 3.10 ERA over 145 innings of work. He has a plus fastball that can touch triple digits and Derrick Goold rated his slider the best in the organization for Baseball America. Many have compared him to Eduardo Sanchez. Speaking of Sanchez, walks have historically been a problem for Rondon as well, but this season he posted a 2.9 BB/9, the lowest he’s posted in a full season in America.

He will likely get an opportunity to come to spring training and be in the running for a bullpen spot, but it’s more likely he will at least start the season in Memphis working out of the bullpen to prove that his walk rate is down for good.

NLCS Game 4 Preview: STL @ SFG

The Cardinals found themselves down four runs early in Tuesday night’s game in San Francisco, thanks to a misplayed ball by Randal Grichuk in the bottom of the first. But it was Grichuk’s home run in the top of the seventh that pulled the Cardinals even with the Giants with two innings of regulation baseball yet to play. Neither team would score and that would send the game into extras.

There’s been a lot of blame to go around the for the loss since the game ended. Most specifically, it would be Randy Choate for getting a case of the rookies and throwing the ball into right field while fielding Gregor Blanco‘s bunt in the bottom of the 10th that allowed the winning run to score. However, having Choate in the game at all there seemed like a bad decision.

First off, Mike Matheny told us earlier in the series that Michael Wacha was the team’s extra innings reliever. Yet the first game that gets into extra innings, he’s nowhere to be seen. Then you have Matheny opting to pull John Lackey after six innings with just 78 pitches in favor of using Daniel Descalso as a pinch hitter with the bases empty. Lackey had been perfect the previous five innings, except for a hit to Giants pitcher Tim Hudson. [click to continue…]