Apologies for the missed post yesterday, everyone; my life and internet access were both interrupted by a power outage here at Casa de Schafer, thanks to the previous night's storms. (Actually, I believe the outage itself was more the result of workers trying to correct whatever damage had been done by the storms, but that's really six or one, half a dozen of the other.) I attempted to compose an abbreviated post via phone yesterday morning, but ultimately had too much ancillary getting in the way. Ergo, here I am on a Thursday, offering you a short list of things to consider as we bask in the reflected glow of yesterday's doubleheader sweep of the Fathers.
-- Yesterday's two games were, to me, as encouraging as anything we've seen from the Cardinals this year. Yes, the fact it was against a bad team fits into the narrative that has surrounded this club this season, about only being able to beat up on poor clubs, while struggling against good competition, and I would certainly feel better about those two wins if they came against a better team than the Padres, who are only about three degrees short of being a dumpster fire at this point.
Nonetheless, to see the Redbirds pull out two wins in close games, games in which the starters and bullpen had to hold on by their fingernails to secure the win, was incredibly encouraging. Those were exactly the kind of game the Cardinals in 2015 won every single night, and exactly the kind this year's iteration has found way to lose over and over again.
-- I think Trevor Rosenthal is either getting demoted or traded soon. In his postgame comments last night, while praising Jaime Garcia's defensive play on Travis Jankowski's fifth inning bunt, Mike Matheny referred to catcher Alberto Rosario as 'Rosie'. I'm fairly certain you're not allowed to give a guy's nickname away to another player, let alone a backup catcher, unless that guy's time with an organisation is limited.
-- Aledmys Diaz's walk rate for the season is now up to 9.3%, while his strikeout rate is still sitting at just 12.6%. In the month of July, those numbers are 15.9% and 11.5%. He's also running a .268 ISO this month. Guys, I think Diaz might be pretty good.
-- Speaking of Aledmys, the Cardinals are going to have a slightly interesting conundrum fairly soon. After this season, Diaz will have only one year remaining on the four-year deal he signed in spring training of 2014. Now, due to MLB's service time rules, Diaz will not actually be eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season, at which point he will be 29 years old. (The 2020 season will be his actual 'age 29' year, but he'll turn 29 before the end of 2019.) Those extra two years of control after his contract expires will be under the auspices of the arbitration rules, and so there are no guarantees what kind of salary Diaz might receive based on his performance the rest of this season and next.
So here's the question: how soon do the Cardinals at least begin thinking about exploring a preemptive contract extension, a la Matt Carpenter or Kolten Wong? We've seen these kinds of deals backfire on the club, obviously; Allen Craig comes to mind immediately (I would imagine for all of us), and so far Wong's contract is looking a little scary. On the other hand, Matt Carpenter signed his extension for six years and $52 million before the 2014 season, and has been worth roughly 12.5 fWAR since that time. Open market value, that's something like $85-90 million worth of production. Just one of these great pre-arb extensions can pay for a couple more even if they completely turn turtle. If the Cardinals believe in Diaz as a solution for the next, say, five years, you have to think they might want to lock him up relatively soon, before his price tag starts escalating in a hurry.
For me, I think I would be a little hesitant to make a move like that during this season; as much as I love Aledmys, I want to see more than ~330 great plate appearances from him before committing years and dollars a couple or order of magnitude greater than he's currently guaranteed. But if he finishes the season with anything resembling his current line (and here's the thing about Diaz: the underlying numbers don't show any of the red flags we associate with flash in the pan mirages), I think I would have to take a long, hard look at extending him this offseason. I still think he's a very good second baseman trapped in a very mediocre shortstop's position, but I want his bat in this lineup for the foreseeable future.
-- And speaking of contract extensions, what about Carlos Martinez? El Gallo looks like the absolute must-keep member of that 2013 prospect class, and while I could certainly understand someone being a bit hesitant to lock up a pitcher to anything resembling a long-term deal, now seems like an excellent time to cement Martinez's place as the centerpiece of this pitching staff, provide him with his future-making payday, and lock in some cost certainty as he continues to ascend.
-- Speaking further of contract extensions and why they're a good idea, Jaime Garcia is widely known as one of the most fragile pitchers we've seen in a Cardinal uniform in recent memory, if not ever, and is often cited as the kind of risk paying pitchers long-term brings with it. However, since signing the four year, $27.5 million deal he was given before the 2012 season (with two options, the first of which he's pitching on right now, making $11 million, Garcia, even missing as much time as he has, has been worth 8.0 fWAR, meaning you're only paying him a little over $4.5 million per WAR. That number should come down even further as he continues to accumulate value the rest of this year. Again, just for context on how valuable these early extensions can be, even when the risk side of the equation seems to hit a given player so hard.
-- This past Sunday, I wrote a piece on Greg Garcia, specifically on how remarkable his 2016 season has been to date. (By the way, I don't think he's gotten a hit since that piece published, so feel free to blame me.) In said piece, I specifically mentioned Tommy Edman, the Cards' fifth round pick in this year's draft, as a player who seems to fit into the same kind of ultra-polished approach monster demographic as Garcia. I'm planning on writing up a piece spotlighting the performances of some of the Cards' 2016 draftees so far (both good and bad), maybe for this coming Sunday, but upon looking at Edman's number in brief, I thought I should highlight just how amazingly good the former Cardinals and current Cardinal has been in the early going.
In his extremely young career, playing for the State College Spikes (the higher of the Cardinals' two short-season clubs), Edman to date has a 22:13 walk to strikeout ratio; that's an 18.0% walk rate and just a 10.6% K rate. He's hitting .309 with a fairly moderate .337 BABIP, and is carrying a .175 ISO, based mostly on doubles and triples. He's stolen seven bases while being caught only once, and is running an 8.2 speed score. (Yes, speed score has all sorts of issues, but that's still encouraging to see he's making an impact on the bases in a significantly positive direction.)
More than anything, those plate discipline numbers suggest a player who is simply too advanced for his level, and should probably be bumped up to a more challenging assignment. The only problem is that Peoria, the level which would represent that immediately bump in competition, is fairly loaded in the middle infield. Edmundo Sosa is the primary shortstop for the Chiefs this season, and while Sosa has had a somewhat disappointing campaign so far, he's still a high-end prospect. Eliezer Alvarez is the starting second baseman, and is showing some developing and intriguing on-base skills himself this year in the Midwest League, in addition to consistently plus defense. Neither player is clamouring for a promotion, necessarily, but neither should either be moved aside in favour of Edman at this point.
Moving him up to Palm Beach doesn't seem to be much of an option either, as the Cards' FSL affiliate features the middle infield duo of Oscar Mercado and Darren Seferina, and while neither is having a banner year (Mercado, in particular, is doing his level best this season to make me regret moving toward optimism regarding his future compared to where I was when he was initially drafted), it would be somewhat hard to justify shunting either to the side in order to potentially overextend Edman by placing him in one of the most challenging hitting environments in the minors barely a month into his debut season. Therefore, I have a feeling Edman pretty much just stays put the rest of this season, unless another club close to his level has an injury or need of a boost once the playoffs roll around.
-- And finally, according to various neighbourhood children, I have several Pokemon living in my front yard. I don't know why this would be; from my understanding of the Pokemon Go app spawn points and the like have mostly been placed near public landmarks, rather than my mailbox. However, the apparent presence of multiple monsters near my house has led to a small group of children and teenagers congregating in the vicinity of my yard. This has led to several situation in which I very nearly headed out my front door to literally yell at a crowd of children to get off my lawn, because the noise seems to be upsetting my inside/outside cat. So I've got both gran torino and crazy cat lady stuff going on in my life right now.
How are you, by the way?