All MLB teams dealt with the arbitration eligible deadline on Friday. Organization offers made - players accepting their proposed contracts. St. Louis Cardinals were able to close their deals with LF Marcell Ozuna ($12.25 M) and pitchers, Michael Wacha ($6.3 M) and Dominic Leone (1.26 M) for the 2019 season. Both Ozuna and Wacha will be free agents in 2020. Leone, not until 2022.
The Cardinals adding 1B Paul Goldschmidt and LHP Andrew Miller in the off-season, further major moves by the organization is really not expected. But, still time for "change' prior to Spring Training and even Opening Day.
Spring training camp will open for the Cardinals between Monday, February 11 - Wednesday, February 13, for pitchers and catchers to report with position players coming in about 3-5 days following. A firm date has yet to be announced by both the Cardinals and Miami Marlins who share the Roger Dean Stadium/Complex in Jupiter, FL.
POSITION PLAYERS FOR THE CARDINALS - 2018 VS. 2019 PROJECTIONS
I'm not one to get deep into stats for players. I leave that to those who are far more familiar with micro-metric stats. What I do go by is witnessed performance(s), past player history and being familiar with the sport and player(s) in general from a fans' view point. The information below was gathered from Baseball Reference for each player.
The following list is 'around the horn' ~ not a proposed line-up for our Cardinals, by any means. Summations have been made on the latter with 'maybe' or what 'could be' a viable line-up. Great podcast by Ron Nuttall and Derek King* along with their guest, Matt Berger co-host of "Last Man Up". Check it out for their "line-up possibles".
Today ~ Beginning with the #2 position on the field, going around the bags and to the outfield.
Catcher Yadier Molina ~ In 2018 - with 20-74/HR-RBI, Slashline: .261/.314/.436/.750
In 2019 - projected: 15-64/HR-RBI, .264/.315/.418/.733 slashline. Should Molina remain in good health, I feel he will match or better his 2018 numbers. A very strong competitor who will hold his own. Being 36 years old, he loves the element of surprise and loves to prove ~ he's not done yet.
1B Paul Goldschmidt ~ in 2018 - with 33-83/HR-RBI, Slashline: .290/.389/.533/.922 with seven stolen bases. In 2019 - projected: 26-84/HR-RBI, .281/.383/.501/.844 slashline with "14" stolen bases. Newly signed in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks this off-season, Goldschmidt is projected a tick downward for this coming season. Due to new team? New home park? Could be. However, in my opinion, once acclimated, the four time Silver Slugger award winner - "Goldy" will be a force to contend with from the plate. A tick lower with a bat, but gains speed on the bases? Not sure how that works, but not at all a bad thing. And, three time Golden Glover winner - very solid for our infield.
2B Kolten Wong ~ in 2018 - with 9-38/HR-RBI, Slashline: .249/.332/.388.720 with six stolen bases. In 2019 - projected: 8-41/HR-RBI, .253/.337/.388/.725 with seven stolen bases. One of the few with an overall up-tick for the coming season. However, he's another that his potential for a much better season is there. Will this be his true 'breakout' season? I, for one, would like to see that transpire.
SS Paul DeJong ~ interesting case for DeJong. In 2017, 417 AB, 108 games his rookie season. He shared playing time with SS Aledmys Diaz. He closed the season with a .285/.325/.532/.857 slashline - 25-65/HR-RBI. In 2018, named everyday shortstop and sustained a fractured hand HBP. Last season, he still had 436 AB, 19-68/HR-RBI for his slashline .241/.313/.433/.746 - understandable that the second portion of his season was not as productive coming off such an injury which required surgery to repair. In 2019 - projected: 21-67/HR-RBI, .260/.322/.465/787 slashline with 443 AB. Yes, an uptick from last season. In my opinion, his numbers this coming season will reflect more of his rookie season with the return of a slugging rate closer to the .500 mark and a .900 (+/-) OPS.
RF Dexter Fowler ~ in 2018 - with 8-31/HR-RBI, Slashline: .180/.278/.298/.576 In 2019, projected: 12-43/HR-RBI, .236/.335/.407/.742 slashline. Not many are behind Fowler for a strong return. A lot would even like to see him fail ~ again. However, I feel he out to prove his mission to strong play. I happen to be one who believes is far better than his 2018 season. A competitor and no one was as disappointed as he was - hands down. I look for his 2017 numbers to return - .264/.363/.488/.851 and with faith re-instilled in him by manager Shildt and staff, I don't believe he will be out to let, not only himself, but all staff and team down.
BREAK FOR JUST A MOMENT ~
And to get off this projection list for just a moment. In 2017, Matheny finally switched Carpenter back to lead-off and placing Fowler (newly signed as lead-off) in the #2 hole. The combination was phenomenal. Carpenter held a .258/.418/.497/.915 while Fowler supported him with a .300/.386/.660/1.016 in 50 AB. Then Matheny destroyed the combo. Lethal from the plate, but chose to play Russian Roulette with the line-up. Think about that. I feel this combo could very well be 'reincarnated' for our Cardinals ... and with Goldy, Ozuna, DeJong and Molina behind them ~ a very strong 'top-of-the-order". Food for thought?
BACK TO IT ~
CF Harrison Bader ~ In his 2018 rookie season, 12-37/HR-RBI, Slashline: .264/.334/.422/.756 with a 31-125 BB/SO ratio. In 2019, projected: 12-41/HR-RBI, .260/.329/.416/.746 slashline with a 32-112/BB-SO ratio. As we see with rookies, lots of swings that don't connect. This upcoming season, I look for that particular stat to improve to push his overall slashline at better levels.
LF Marcell Ozuna ~ In 2018, 23-88/HR-RBI, Slashline: .280/.325/.433/.758. With an ailing shoulder, not all bad. Even though, with his minor surgery this off-season, believe will see a much improved, overall, Ozuna. In 2019, projected: 24-84/HR-RBI, .279/.336/.466/.802. As much as I believe that Giancarlo Stanton spurred Ozuna's 2017 season (.312/.376/.548/.924) with the Miami Marlins. I feel Goldschmidt will be much the same influence. I look to Ozuna to pound out 30 HR and 90 RBI (minimum) this coming season. This will be his season to prove himself as he will be approaching free agency in 2020.
LOOKING TO THE BENCH
IF Jedd Gyorko ~ in 2018, he had a career low at the plate, 402 AB, dealing with injuries last season. He produced 11-47/HR-RBI, Slashline: .262/.346/.416/.762, still not bad behind his 2017 season of 20-64/HR-RBI, .272/.341/.472/.813. In 2019, projected: 18-56/HR-RBI, .253/.326/.439/.764 in 399 AB, closer to that of two seasons ago. With expected less playing time for Gyorko, these stats may be about right. But, with Gyorko, he has the capability to do even better - even off the bench.
OF/IF Utility Yairo Munoz ~ in his rookie season of 2018, 8-46/HR/RBI, Slashline: .276/.350/.413/.763 and held an solid 30-71/BB-SO ratio. In 2019, projected: 10-56/HR-RBI, .268/.341/.418/.759 keeping his BB-SO ratio at 33-79. This kid has moxie at the plate and in the field. And, maybe a tad too much in the field. With a bit more maturity which brings stronger concentration, I see improvement in his glove. His value - not only his bat - but he is capable of playing multiple positions. On the downside, he committed eighteen errors playing 3B/2B/SS/LF/CF/RF last season ~ definite concentration improvement needed. Upside, he 'played' wherever he was asked to fill-in. The kid loves his job - that is apparent. Just needs a bit of refinement to curb his enthusiasm into positive results.
RF Jose Martinez ~ In 2018, 17-83/HR-RBI, Slashline: .305/.364/.457/.821 with 590 AB. In 2019, projected: 17-70/HR-RBI, .289/.352/.454/.807 slashline with a reduced 471 AB. No serious deals are in the works to trade "Cafe Jr" at the moment, thankfully. Should Fowler fall short, even though defense is not Martinez' forte ... offense certainly is. And, as has been mentioned - with Goldschmidt in front of him and Bader to his right side, he should be able to take care of rightfield.
OF, Tyler O'Neill ~ In his rookie season of 2018, 9-23/HR-RBI, Slashline: .254/.303/.500/.803 in 130 AB. Still with a 7-57/BB-SO ratio to improve upon. In 2019, projected: 12-36/HR-RBI, .254/.317/.455/.722 slashline with a projected 20-77/BB-SO ratio. Pushes a lot of air, but when he connects it can be a difference maker. Another option in rightfield, defense in on his side - but there again, J Martinez "holds" the bat.
SPEAKING OF DEFENSE AND 'ERRORS'.
Many have voiced that Matt Carpenter does not have the arm for third base. I agree and feel he is best suited at second. However, I believe Wong has an open/closed door case at the second bag. They feel Gyorko would be a much better selection, a more solid fielder.
In checking, 2018, Carpenter vs. Gyorko. Both committed 16 errors. Which as we know Cardinals need to strongly improve in that area overall with 133 last season. Carpenter committed eight at first and eight at third. Gyorko, "10" at third, four at second and two as shortstop. Mute point, probably ... but just sayin.
As much as we don't want to give up on Jose Martinez's bat, even though his strong suit is not the field ~ I will give Carpenter the same 'benefit-of-the-doubt' in 2019.
As speculation goes, so are the projections based on past numbers. That's all we have to go by. I feel the player themselves - mindset, physical condition - is an important factor, also. There's no way to measure the latter fully - the player must prove himself, his capability, his results.
Thanks for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @elichap822.
*Bookmark/follow on Facebook CN24/7 Network, follow on Twitter @CN24_7Network and other social media, Thursday evenings, for their podcasts and they will do their best to get to any questions posed to them about our Cardinals.
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