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What did Mozeliak and Matheny reveal about the St. Louis Cardinals' offseason plans during Monday's press conference?

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The general manager and field manager addressed the media together on Monday at Busch Stadium.

Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and his henchman Mike Matheny held a joint press conference at Busch Stadium on Monday to answer questions about the season that was, the offseason that looms, and the 2015 season that will be. Lil' Scooter collected various tweets and reactions in yesterday's Hunt and Peck post. Today, let's get down deeper into the weeds on this week's Mospeak. There's a bit to unpack.

Adam Wainwright's elbow is fine.

According to Derrick Goold in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a "full battery of exams" revealed no structural damage. The prescription? Rest. And this will apparently include spring training, when the Cards will limit Wainwright's workload because he's thrown 519 1/3 innings over the past two seasons combined.

Neither Mozeliak nor Matheny provided much detail on how else the club might curb Waino's workload, as Mozeliak indicated the club would attempt to do over the remaining four years of the righty's contract (which will pay $78 million yet). It seems likely that such a plan is still in the formulation stage and that more details might be available come spring training—assuming the overall health of the starting rotation allows the Cards to offer Wainwright such a planned reduction in innings pitched.

Michael Wacha's shoulder is fine.

MLB.com's Jenifer Langosh reported:

Wacha underwent an MRI on Friday, and the Cardinals were encouraged to learn that it came back clean. "Even the doctors were a little surprised on how that looked," Mozeliak added. Wacha plans to follow a normal offseason program.

Wait, what? The Cardinals and apparently the doctors were expecting Wacha's MRI to reveal damage to his shoulder? The next five years of club control are going to be really awful, aren't they? It's going to be like a Chris Carpenter/Rick Ankiel cocktail, waiting forever only to have hopes dashed and promise mashed. Even when Wacha's on the mound, pitching in a healthy fashion, I'm going to have the thought in the back of mind that I need to enjoy this while it lasts—just like every Carp start from 2009 onward (excluding those hideous 2012 starts, which made it clear the end had come).

Oscar Taveras, Randal Grichuk, and Stephen Piscotty will have a spring competition to see who will start in right field.

From Langosch at MLB.com:

The Cardinals will consider Randal Grichuk, Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty for that right-field job, with 2014 performance, completion of offseason goals and Spring Training all factoring into the decision. Piscotty is the only one of the three not to have cracked the Major League roster this season.

Grichuk was the team's starting right fielder throughout the postseason, though the end-of-the-season roles were not an indication that the Cardinals have soured on Taveras' ability or potential to have a long-term impact. The organization's consensus top prospect heading into 2014, Taveras endured a season laced with adversity. He struggled when given everyday playing time and was exposed defensively after lagging with his conditioning work.

And yet …

"I think he can be a star, and I think he showed things all season long that showed that," manager Mike Matheny said on Monday. "You see some things there offensively that absolutely excite you. … I think part of that process is that he's never been pushed and never naturally had that passion for the defensive side of the game. He's never had that passion for the baserunning and some of the minor details, which are things that he's now seen guys in that clubhouse who have been around here for a long time, it's all. It's all or nothing. I think that's part of his maturing."

Both general manager John Mozeliak and Matheny sat down with Taveras at the end of the season to outline their suggestions for an offseason plan. Mozeliak said the organization would like to have Taveras spend November at the Cardinals' Florida complex in Jupiter, after which Taveras will return to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball for about three weeks. He will then go back to Jupiter by January and remain there until the start of Spring Training.

So we've moved on to passion. I don't want to know where we'll be come spring training. Until then all we have are stats.

Taveras vs. Grichuk: 2014 MLB

Player

PA

K%

SwStr%

BB%

BA

OBP

SLG

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

Taveras

248

14.9

5.2

4.8

.239

.278

.312

.073

.265

67

Grichuk

116

26.7

14.5

4.3

.245

.278

.400

.155

.299

90

Taveras vs. Grichuk: 2014 AAA

Player

PA

K%

BB%

BA

OBP

SLG

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

Taveras

262

11.8

7.3

.318

.370

.502

.184

.375

121

Grichuk

472

22.9

5.9

.259

.311

.493

.234

.345

102

Taveras 2012 vs. Grichuk 2013: AA

Player

PA

K%

BB%

BA

OBP

SLG

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

Taveras

531

10.5

7.9

.321

.380

.572

.252

.411

159

Grichuk

542

17.0

5.2

.256

.306

.474

.218

.341

116

Who do you think will be the better big-league hitter?

Now if we exclude minor-league track record and consider only 2014 perofrmance, completion of offseason goals and spring training, who do you think will start opening day?

The Cards will offer arbitration to all of their arbitration-eligible players.

Lance Lynn, duh. Jon Jay is a no brainer. Of course to Peter Bourjos. Tony Cruz, um, okay, I guess.

I can't say that I'm surprised the Cardinals will bring Daniel Descalso back at a multi-million-dollar salary that is on par with one win of aribtration-eligible production that will never materialize. Despite Matheny's affection for Descalso, he only got the no-hit, no-field infielder 184 PAs last season. Getting Descalso so few PAs was a major managerial accomplishment for Matheny. It seems that paying Greg Garcia, a better defender than Descalso at shortstop, a tad more than $500K to take something less than 200 PAs as the utility infielder would be a better use of money. But I'm not surprised that Descalso and his perpetual five o'clock shadow will return.

Shane Robinson, though. Really? I know Matheny told the media that Robinson will always have a place in the Cardinals clubhouse and the Cardinals clubhouse is a family and everything, but keeping in the fold seems pointless. He's a poor man's Bourjos crowded off the big-league bench by Bourjos, Oscar Taveras, or Randal Grichuk (depending on one's choice of outfield composition to start the game). Non-tendering Robinson, who has never really hit at any level he's played but seems like a lovely person, would seem like a no-brainer—that is if Bourjos, Taveras, and Grichuk are all going to be Cardinals come February.

Then again, this could be Mozeliak preserving the value of potential trade chips. Just last year Mozeliak dealt Fernando Salas and David Freese—both arbitration eligible players—to the Angels in exchange for Bourjos and Grichuk. Not that players like Robinson or Descalso would have a lot of value to preserve but talking openly about tendering them contracts is probably a better tactic than declaring them replacement level and not worth a dime over the league minimum before unceremoniously non-tendering them through the media at a press conference.

Jon Jay suffered a wrist injury in July that will require an offseason scope.

Jay will be out six to eight weeks due to the procedure, per a tweet by KMOX.

Wrist injuries are usually pretty scary for a hitter. But Jay's doesn't worry me too terribly much. For one thing, Jay initially injured his wrist in July. Here are Jay's batting stats by month in 2014:

  • March/April: .284/.351/.418 (.338 wOBA, 117 wRC+)
  • May: .294/.339/.353 (.295 wOBA, 87 wRC+)
  • June: .310/.372/.366 (.334 wOBA, 114 wRC+)
  • July: .266/.319/.328 (.294 wOBA, 87 wRC+)
  • August: .382/.474/.487 (.425 wOBA, 176 wRC+)
  • September: .274/.344/.310 (.301 wOBA, 91)

There's not much of an indication that Jay's injured wrist had too big of a negative impact on his batting. Furthermore, Jay has never been much of a power hitter. Slap-hitting is more his thing. It would be difficult for his pop to be lessened much at all.

Lastly, Mozeliak and Matheny are seemingly not worried about Jay's wrist in the least, as evidenced by the next nugget of knowledge they shared during the press conference.

Jay will enter 2015 as the starting center fielder for the Cardinals.

In 2012, Jay batted .305/.373/.400 (.341 wOBA, 115 wRC+) on the foundation of a .355 BABIP. He followed up that campaign with a .276/.351/.370 (.319 wOBA, 103 wRC+) thanks in large part to a .325 BABIP. Then the Cardinals went out and acquired Bourjos; Mozeliak's intent was that Bourjos would be the primary center fielder. But Bourjos struggled at the bat while Jay played better defense than he did the year before while hitting .303/.372/.378 (.336 wOBA, 115 wRC+) with a .363 BABIP. Jay will be 30 in 2015 and has his offensive value strongly tied to a BABIP well above average. There's good reason to think that the 2014 season is as good as we will ever see Jay perform, especially given his age.

Starting spring training with Jay as the anointed starter isn't particularly surprising given his record and status as a Matheny Favorite Son. The question becomes: What will Matheny do if Jay's BABIP sags like it did in 2013? Will he stick with Jay the way he did Allen Craig? Or will Matheny be willing to give Bourjos a shot for more than two weeks?

Marco Gonzales and Carlos Martinez will report to camp as starters but probably only be relievers during the season.

Monday's press conference conjured up memories of the spring split between the front office and field manager, when "a front office push," in the words of Goold, to have Carlos Martinez start was derailed by Matheny's concern about the eighth inning, which resulted in Martinez being pigeonholed in a relief spot in favor of Joe Kelly joining the rotation. It was Mozeliak who indicated Martinez would come to spring training prepared to start but Matheny who stated his role would be that of a reliever. Again from Goold's article:

"Right now, you look at the starters we have in place and you see a Marco and how he’s progressed, how he’s impressed us all. You can see there is a spot for Carlos in that bullpen that looks pretty nice when it fits right. We’ll have him continue to prepare (to start), but there are only so many innings that we have in spring for starters. He’s always been an option, but we do like him in the back end of the bullpen."

The Cardinals' rotation is set on paper: (1) Wainwright, (2) Lynn, (3) John Lackey, (4) Shelby Miller, and (5) Michael Wacha. That's pretty good, assuming they're all healthy. And so Gonzales and Martinez will be stretched out and developed as starters in Jupiter as insurance in case one (or more) of the currently set rotation goes down with a February or March injury. If that occurs, as in March 2014, it appears that Gonzales and Martinez will be in a competition for the No. 5 starter role. Presumably Gonzales will have a leg up on winning any such theoretical contest because Matheny is once again set on Martinez being the eighth-inning guy.

Randy Choate is hard to use because he can't get righthanded batters out.

Per Goold, Mozeliak had this to say about Choate, the lefthanded specialist the club signed two offseasons ago:

"I think we both feel that if we can upgrade there or have an additional arm to choose from, that makes sense," Mozeliak said. "We’re certainly not ruling out Siegrist. I think in Choate’s case, for us, he’s fairly one-dimensional. That makes it difficult for us to use him, particularly during a long season."

Here's an excerpt from the December 2012 article by Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com on the Cardinals' decision to sign Choate:

St. Louis has few holes to fill on its roster before 2013, but finding a second southpaw to join Marc Rzepczynski in the bullpen was among the team's top priorities. The Cards were eyeing a specific sort of lefty, too, one who could fill a lefty-on-lefty specialist role.

Choate fit that bill better than any other available southpaw reliever, including Sean Burnett, who doesn't profile so much as a lefty specialist. Though the Cardinals did meet with agents representing other lefty relievers, Choate was the team's target from the start.

The three-year length of the contract was bizarre as Choate will be 40 years old next season, in its final year. But for Mozeliak to frame the basis for the Cardinals' decision being Choate's limited usefulness when they signed him specifically because of his very narrow, specialized skill set is weirder than the decision to sign the LOOGY extraordinaire for three years. What's more, Matheny deployed Choate rather effectively in 2013.