After a fews weeks off, let’s fire up The Delivery once again! Ideally, this will be a weekly mailbag going forward now that we have things up and running in a more official capacity at The Intrepid STL. Always send your Cardinals questions, and anything else, for future consideration to the DM inbox of @bschaeffer12 on Twitter.
Let’s begin this week’s Delivery with our headline question from Caleb Arbeiter:
Q: Do you think the Cards will regret the Fowler signing by the end of his contract given the fact that there are so many OF prospects waiting in the minors? -@CArbeiter
Speaking strictly to the context of the question, my answer would be no–but I don’t think that tells the whole story.
For me, it comes down to the word ‘regret’ and the tendency for fans to take a short-sighted view of matters, especially of the player personnel variety. Interestingly, I feel the Cardinals have a recent example that we could use as a point of reference for how the Fowler contract might play out.
After the Cardinals designated and subsequently released Jhonny Peralta a few weeks ago, one might argue that the club holds some regret about paying the remainder of his $10 million salary for the season while he plays for another team. That point of view contains some recency bias, though. Think back to the state of the Cardinals when they first signed Peralta.
The team had just suffered through a 2013 season with Pete Kozma as the starting shortstop, and were desperate for production better than the 53 OPS+ he provided that year. Peralta received a four-year contract, front-loaded to reflect a probable declining of his skills as his age progress. In his first two years in St. Louis, Peralta provided quality at a position that sorely needed it. Were the last two years of his deal a bust? Absolutely. But don’t let that recent disappointment erase the very real need Peralta fulfilled in his first two seasons as a Cardinal.
So, how does this apply to Fowler? Like they were for a shortstop in November 2013, the Cardinals were determined to add a quality outfielder this past offseason. Because the trade market raged out of control with the haul the White Sox got for Adam Eaton, the Cardinals settled on a hefty contract for the best free agent centerfielder available in Fowler.
While it’s possible injuries derail Fowler’s career earlier than expected, I think it’s more likely the Cardinals get a few good seasons out of him before that decline takes place. Is it possible St. Louis comes to regret the deal? Of course. But given the Cardinals’ needs at the time, and the anticipated production Fowler will provide before his skills greatly diminish, I don’t think it will happen.
As for the prospects in the minors, some of those guys will likely end up as trade bait, and the others will have to be tested in a limited capacity when September rolls around. Which brings me to a related question from Christian…
Q: Will Tommy Pham be an everyday outfield going forward? -@CDutler5
This is a more dangerous question than I can artfully explain, but I’ll answer nevertheless. The back-and-forth competition between Pham and Randal Grichuk has been fascinating over the past week; it seems that every time one of them does something impressive on the diamond, the other finds a way to top it.
For now, that works out nicely for everyone except Jose Martinez. But when Dexter Fowler makes his way off the DL, it will spell the end of regular playing time for Grichuk or Pham–unless the Cardinals drastically reshuffle their defensive alignment to accommodate them both.
I think Pham will play in the majority of games the rest of the season so long as he keeps up his health and his production, but it’s also possible to see the Cardinals trade him if his impressive season has earned him some value in that market.
More likely, it’ll be Grichuk that gets moved. Since his return from Memphis, Grichuk has flashed his power stroke. The Cardinals could decide to let that ride, and re-insert him as an everyday player–but a brief Grichuk revival is a movie John Mozeliak has already seen. I consider Grichuk the more likely trade candidate because he’s younger, and because of his status as a former first rounder, the Cardinals might be able to more easily package him in a large scale trade.
Pham’s numbers on the season are more than deserving of playing every day, but I don’t know how much bearing they will have on the team’s plans for future seasons.
Q: Even with the poor plate discipline, Diaz’s .260 average doesn’t look that bad. Why the decision to send him down? -@JoshSaavedra
Aledmys Diaz led the Cardinals in hits when he was demoted, which is a pretty strange concept to consider. The reality is, though, Diaz hadn’t been cutting it with his overall profile at the plate. After posting a .369 OBP in his rookie season, Diaz’s plate discipline has completely deteriorated. Because the Cardinals have seen him making better decisions in the batter’s box as recently as last year, it only makes sense to give him an opportunity to try and reclaim that form in a low-pressure environment like Memphis.
If the Cardinals decided Diaz could no longer receive regular playing time at the MLB level, that was just another factor propelling the decision to send him down, rather than watch him waste away on the St. Louis bench.
After you finish The Delivery, Read my take on why the Diaz demotion should lead to a short-term position change for Matt Carpenter.
Q: Who is your favorite player and why, for both St. Louis teams? -@Tyler_Mullen_22
As those who follow me on Twitter would tell you, my favorite player on the current Cardinal team–the guy I really find myself rooting for–is Kolten Wong. He plays the game with unbridled passion, and has been accused at times of being too much of an emotional player. For me, though, Wong is exactly the type of player I want to watch, and his emotions are part of the equation.
Wong has electricity in his bat, amazing defensive range, and speed to burn on the bases. I’ve said for years that when he finally puts it all together, he would be an impact player for St. Louis. Unfortunately, injuries have gotten in the way of him doing so this season–but when he’s seen the field, Wong has been precisely the kind of guy the Cardinals need. He’s set to return after the All-Star Break–once he does, hopefully he can keep healthy long enough to fulfill his potential as one of the top second basemen in the league.
For the Blues, I’d probably have to go with Robby Fabbri. He was injured much of last season, but is now in full swing with his offseason program after recovering from ACL surgery. He’s got youth and enthusiasm for the game, and can do some absolutely silly things with a stick and a puck. Next season, Fabbri could show he is capable of making that next step into stardom in the NHL.
If I didn’t answer your question in The Delivery this week, you can bet I will do so in a podcast to be released some time Friday. Keep the questions coming, and we’ll see you next week for the latest edition of The Delivery!
-Brenden Schaeffer (@bschaeffer12)