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The “Daily” Mail: Kelly Coming Soon?

The Daily Mail, a St. Louis Cardinals Q&A

As I open up the Daily Mail, I see a focus on the roster construction and potential roster moves for the St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, John Mozeliak’s comments provided fuel for a few of the questions. So, let’s take a look.

Carson Kelly is ready and waiting to join the St. Louis Cardinals
Carson Kelly could arrive in St. Louis soon, according to John Mozeliak

What do you make of Mo’s comments saying that Carson Kelly will be up before long to split time with Molina? Do you see a full blown time share or more of a 70/30 type of platoon this season? Also, how do you see it playing out as Molina plays out his contract?  — Jack P.

I believe that the 2017 season, at least as far as Carson Kelly is concerned, is playing out as envisioned for John Mozeliak. At 22 years old and in just his 3rd season as a catcher, he needed to play regularly this year. That simply wouldn’t happen in St. Louis, just ask Eric Fryer. Mo was quoted as saying, “His opportunity will come soon. It will likely look like a shared position with Yadi.” I’m not sure it will be a 50/50 split, I just can’t imagine that in 2017 or even 2018. However, I turn back to when Yadi broke in behind Mike Matheny in 2004. Yadi joined the team with 110 games remaining and started 39 the rest of the way. That’s approximately 35%.

Let’s just say that the team waits until after the trade deadline to add Kelly. This leaves 54 games in the season. 35% of that is 20 games started. Kelly currently has 60 games caught in Memphis. If he catches 15 of the next 22 games there between now and August 1st, he will have 75 games caught in the minors. Add 20 in the majors and he sits at 95, with maybe a handful more as a late game replacement/pinch hitter. 100 games played and right around 400 at-bats seems like great developmental totals for him this year. Going forward I would hope for the starts to be split (Yadi/Kelly) around 100/62 in 2018, 81/81 in 2019, and 62/100 in 2020. I believe that’s what the front office wants. Implementing it with the manager is a totally different issue.

Luke Voit has added such a charge to this team. Is he the bat we’ve been looking for?  — Chuck B.

I love the attitude that Voit has brought to the team. He obviously loves to play the game and has been an amazing soundbite for reporters. Being a local kid, he has quickly become a fan favorite. Now, as to him sticking, that is difficult. Currently he has played because Kolten Wong is on the DL. This leaves 2B open for Carpenter to move over. So the choice is Mejia or Garcia at 2B or Voit at 1B. For now the team is siding with offense. This is okay temporarily, but Carpenter is a bad 2B and will not continue to play there when Wong returns. This means that Voit falls to the bench, Memphis, or possibly (but unlikely as he has never been a highly rated prospect) a trade.

It has been proposed that Voit may become a part of a 3 man rotation/platoon with Carpenter and Wong, with Carp sliding over and Voit playing 1B against LH pitchers. Based on career splits vs LHP this kind of makes sense (.257 BA for Carp, .250 for Wong), but in 2017 Wong has handled LHP for a .286/.400 (BA/OBP) mark while Carpenter has struggled to marks of .169/.316. So unless the Cardinals plan to shift Carpenter to the outfield or 3B (with Gyorko to SS?) and completely sell out to offense as they did last year, I just don’t see Voit hanging around in the starting lineup. Maybe that changes going into 2018, but the roster has a very clogged feel this year. Let’s just enjoy the ride while it lasts.

During the press conference announcing Mo’s promotion he said that they had not yet identified how to improve the 2017 club. First, what do you think of the promotion and why did it happen in season? Second, what do you make of that comment? Isn’t the need obviously a big bat?  — Larry W.

Regarding the promotion, it has been talked about and written about by scribes about town for a while now. It was imminent that Mo would move into a “Theo Epstein”-type role. As far as the timing and maybe why not in the past offseason or coming offseason? I believe the Cardinals wanted to clear themselves of the “hackgate” fiasco. That required waiting through most of the offseason. After that settled they had to regroup and make a plan for moving towards the draft shorthanded.

I have also heard that Mike Girsch had a lot of dealings with the draft and pre-draft. Altering his duties mid-process would have been awkward. Now the draft has passed, the international signing period (Luis Robert courting) is done and they are just beginning the next chapter of the season with the approaching trade deadline. Girsch starts with that chapter. The team can gradually transfer duties from Mo to Girsch over the remainder of the year and allow the new GM to hit the ground running and fully entrenched when the offseason begins.

Part 2

As far as not yet identifying how to improve the team, well it’s just a strange roster. The team is not that bad, but obviously not that good either. When totally healthy, they have several starting-caliber players but not stars. It’s been said that the team consists of mostly #6 type hitters, and that’s pretty accurate. The need for a middle-order bat is obvious, and Mo has acknowledged that publicly. But at what position do you add this player? In the outfield Fowler and Piscotty are signed to long contracts and Tommy Pham is your best hitter, fielder and baserunner this year. If they add an outfielder, which is the position where big bats are easiest to find, it probably means bailing on Piscotty for 2017, and I don’t think they do that.

On the infield, they have been bullish on Carpenter at 1B, Gyorko has been a very good 3B (offensively and defensively), and Wong has been having his best all-around season when on the field. That leaves SS as the most obvious position to look for an upgrade, but is there a middle order hitter available at the position? Tulo, JJ Hardy, and Asdrubal Cabrera are a few news that play for selling teams AND could be moved (Jean Segura and Brandon Crawford play for teams that may sell, but probably not them). The first three are all well passed their prime and not #3 or #4 hitters. Zach Cozart would be ideal, but trading with the Reds is unlikely, and while he is a great bat, he isn’t quite the level needed.

So can you see why this is cloudy? It’s easy to find a bat for the outfield, but is there room in the outfield? There is room at SS, but is there a bat to be had? I’m glad I’m not the GM. Hopefully they have something up their sleeve.

Thanks for reading!

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Rusty Groppel
I'm a diehard Cardinals fan that feels privileged to write about his favorite team in this corner of cyberspace. I'm also the bass player for the best damn band in the 618, Tanglefoot. Check us out some time.
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