Cardinals Partner With Athletico Therapy

Earlier today Athletico Therapy announced a new partnership with our very own Cardinals. As part of this agreement, Athletico will receive Cardinals based media exposure and have an impact on Busch Stadium events as well. When asked about the partnership, Mark Kaufman (Athletico founder and president) stated, “Teaming up with the St. Louis Cardinals was a natural step in advancing the Athletico name in the Midwest. We are looking forward to a strong relationship with the Cardinals for years to come.” He also referred to the Cardinals as “One of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball.” Not bad praise by any means.

Along with the Cardinals, Athletico has partnerships with the U.S. Big Ten Conference, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls and other organizations. Athletico already has 28 locations in the St. Louis area and is eager to expand their business as a result of their partnership with the Cardinals.

Jay Agrees To Deal

The Cardinals announced today that they have signed outfielder Jon Jay to a two-year contract through the 2016 season and avoided salary arbitration. Jay will receive a $1.25 million signing bonus, a salary of $3.5 this season, and a salary of $6.225 million in 2016.

The 30 year-old had a sturdy .303 batting average last season (although he did not not have enough plate appearances to qualify as a MLB batting leader) and a remarkable postseason in which he hit .434. Since his Cardinals debut in 2010, Jay has not only been a clutch player, but a Cards fan favorite as well.

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Cardinals Acquire Catcher

The Cardinals announced earlier today that they acquired catcher Michael Ohlman from the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations. The 24 year old Ohlman was rated the Orioles 9th best prospect by Baseball America in 2013 after he hit .313 with 13 home runs while playing for the teams single A affiliate.


Although the big right-hander had a dip in production last season after his promotion to double A, (he hit .236 in 113 games) this was still a good pickup for a Cards team that has little catching depth. Since his minor league debut in 2009, Ohlman has hit .254/.345.375 with 24 career home runs and is looking forward to having a fresh start with an organization known for its premier farm system. Hopefully Ohlman can continue to progress and eventually develop into a solid complement to Yadier Molina.

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U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Set to Play at Busch Stadium

The Cardinals announced today that the United Stated Women’s National Soccer team is set to play its first domestic match of 2015 at Busch Stadium on April fourth. They will be playing New Zealand’s Women’s National team and the match will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.


This will the mark the third time Busch Stadium has hosted a soccer match and the first time a U.S. National Team will play at the stadium. This match is also the only domestic match the national team will be playing before the World Cup this summer. Tickets to the match will go on sale starting Friday January 30th at 10 AM and they can be bought here.

Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III is also very thrilled to be hosting the Women’s National team stating, “This is a unique opportunity to see the U.S. Women’s team in one of the most iconic settings in St. Louis. Soccer fans won’t want to miss it.” Although Soccer is not our sport of choice here at Cardsblog, this is definitely an opportunity St. Louis sports fans do not want to miss.

Where Does Wong Fit?

Most of the starters on the Cardinals roster have clear spots in the lineup. For example, we know Matt Holliday and Matt Adams will be hitting third and fourth come 2015. Unfortunately there is one player on the Cardinals whose place in the batting order is unclear. This year, Kolten Wong is the odd-man out of the lineup because he has the potential to be effective in multiple ways. Wong did not have a particularly high OBP last season (.292) so it makes no sense for him to hit leadoff, but I could see him being a great two-hitter. Wong does not strike out that often, (71 in 402 at bats last season) and in the minor leagues his career strikeout percentage was only 8%. This is an incredible number. A strikeout percentage below 20% is considered above average in the MLB. Hitting after Matt Carpenter (the leadoff hitter), Wong would be a dangerous hit and run threat as well as a prime table setter for the big bats in the order.

Although it is logical for Wong to hit second, I could also see him hitting seventh in the Cards order. The seven hitter is extremely important because he is typically considered the last “dangerous” hitter in the lineup before leadoff. Whoever hits seventh usually gets a fair amount of RBI opportunities and anchors the bottom of the order. For a second baseman of slight stature, Wong has a lot of power. Even though he is only 5’9, Wong has quick hips and a short, compact swing, which results in above average bat speed. He was third amongst second basemen in the NL last year with 12 home runs in only 402 at bats. Assuming Wong has roughly 550-600 plate appearances next season, I would not be surprised if he hits around 20 home runs and drives in 75 as well.

As of right now, I am fairly certain Wong will be hitting seventh in the order to start 2015. Coach Matheny really likes Jason Heyward in the 2-hole and wants his bonafide star power in the front of the lineup. However, regardless of where Wong hits, look for him to have a productive season in 2015 and substantially improve offensively if he can stay healthy for the full season.

Cardinals Sign Lynn

The Cardinals signed Lance Lynn to a three year contract (2015-17) worth $22 million today (he made $535,000 last season) and avoided salary arbitration in the process. Over the past few years Lynn has been an extremely effective and durable pitcher. Lynn’s 59 quality

starts since 2012 are good for tenth best in the NL and his 95 starts over that time period rank 7th as well. Lynn is also just one of three pitchers (Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke) to win 15 or more games in each of the past three seasons.

This was a smart move for the Cardinals. Lynn arguably had his best season in 2014 and at age 27 he is just starting to enter his prime. On top of this, his contract is extremely reasonable considering the numbers he has put up over the past few seasons. Now that Lynn has signed the Cardinals only have three arbitration eligible players remaining on their roster (Peter Bourjous, Jon Jay and Tony Cruz).

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Are the Cards Adding Another Starter?

In recent days there has been a lot of speculation as to whether the Cardinals are interested in acquiring Max Scherzer, James Shields, Cole Hamels or David Price.

While all of these pitchers are proven MLB starters, I think the best option for the Cardinals is to stay put and trust their current pitching staff. Although there are health concerns with the current rotation, the Cardinals have depth at starting pitcher and should not make a huge monetary commitment to a free agent (Scherzer or Shields) or give up valuable prospects in a trade (Hamels or Price). Their pitching staff is also praised by baseball analysts who are not affiliated with the organization. For example, ESPN senior writer Buster Olney ranked the Cards current pitching staff third best in all of baseball after the Washington Nationals and L.A. Dodgers.

Steamer projections for Cardinal pitchers on the FanGraphs website predict that even with the loss of Shelby Miller, 5 pitchers (Wainwright, Wacha, Lackey, Martinez and Lynn) are projected to pitch between 144 and 192 innings. On top of this, Marco Gonzalez, who can be considered a 6th starter, is also projected to pitch 93 innings next season. Each of these players is also projected to have an ERA between 3.42 and 3.82, which are modest numbers for multiple Cards starters when taking their career statistics into account. For Example, I believe that Wainright and Lynn will have much lower ERA’s than their projections of 3.42 and 3.72. Lynn had a fantastic 2014 in which he had a 2.74 ERA and showed a lot more confidence on the mound than he did in 2013. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2007, Wainwright has only had two seasons in which his ERA was greater than 3.42.

Of course it is illogical to assume all Cardinal starters will be healthy next season (keep in mind that the Steamer projections take durability and injury history into account when making projections). However, that does not mean the Cardinals should jump the gun on acquiring a starter. Last season multiple Cardinals starters were injured and they still managed to have an average ERA well under the NL average of 3.66. As of right now the smart move is to stay put and see what developments with the pitching staff start to take place come spring training.

Cards Top 10 Prospects Entering 2015

A few days ago, at the bottom of his article Debating and ranking Hall of Fame candidates Derrick Goold mentioned that the Cards top ten prospects list will be released by Baseball America on January 14th. This important tidbit of information inspired me to create my own list, (see below) but before we get into the juicy details let me lay out some general parameters.

As far as my list goes, I am not including Kolten Wong, Carlos Martinez, Randal Grichuk, Sam Tuivailala or Marco Gonzalez because they have all seen time in the big leagues. I know that Grichuk, Tuivailala and Gonzalez are still considered prospects, but in my opinion once someone plays in a major league game they can no longer be considered a prospect. So, I guess my list should be called the Cards top ten prospects who have never ever played in the majors list, but let’s not get too technical.

CardsBlog’s Top Ten 2015 Prospects (who have yet to see big league time) List

1: Alexander Reyes RHP

The 20-year-old Reyes easily has the highest ceiling out of all the Cards pitching prospects. Reyes has an electric fastball, which can reach 97 mph, and an above average curveball to complement it. He averaged 11.3 K/9 innings last season and struck out an incredible 137 batters in only 109.1 innings for the Cardinals single A affiliate. While control is an issue, (Reyes averaged 5 BB/9 innings last year) as he progresses through the minor leagues and fills out his lanky 6’3 185 pound frame, Reyes will become a more polished pitcher. Look for Reyes to get promoted to double A at some point this season and continue to excel.

ETA: 2017

2: Stephen Piscotty, OF

The soon to be 24-year-old Piscotty (whose birthday is coincidentally on January 14th) is the Cardinals most major league ready prospect. He is the most polished hitter in their minor league system (.288/.355/.406 with 9 home runs and 32 doubles in 500 at bats last season with the Cards triple A affiliate) and he has the potential to be a .300 hitter in the majors. He won’t be a huge power threat, but his line-drive swing will result in a lot of doubles and minimal strikeouts. Piscotty is also a capable right fielder with an above average arm. Look for him to be brought up to the big club during the 2015 season and contribute as an important right-handed bat off the bench.

ETA: 2015

3: Rob Kaminsky, LHP

The 20-year-old Kaminsky had a fantastic 2014 season in which he posted a 1.88 ERA in over 100 innings with the Cardinals single A affiliate. Though he’s only 5’11, scouts love Kaminsky’s competitiveness, his ability to throw strikes, and the fact that he’s a lefty. If Kaminsky produces at the level he did last season, don’t be surprised if he has been promoted to double A by the season’s end.

ETA: 2016

4: Jack Flaherty, RHP

The Cardinals farm system is stocked with young arms (see above) and the 19-year-old Flaherty is one of the best of the bunch. While he is still a few years away from seeing MLB action, Flaherty has above average control, (he walked 4 batters in 22.2 innings last season with the Cards GCL team) and can throw strikes with his fastball, curveball, slider and change-up. His slider and curveball need work if he wants to be a competitive pitcher, but his change-up is already an above average pitch and he projects to add more velocity to his fastball as he fills out his 6’4 205 pound frame.

ETA: 2018

5: Luke Weaver, RHP

The 21-year-old Weaver projects to be a number three starter. Although he does not have as much raw talent as other Cards pitching prospects he still has a promising future. Weaver possesses exceptional command of his fastball, which sits in the low 90’s, and an above average change-up. Weaver has a mediocre slider at best, but if he works to tighten its break this 2014 first round draft pick will breeze through the minor leagues and be with the big club in no time.

ETA: 2016

6: Charlie Tilson, OF

The speedy and athletic Tilson is a very capable defensive center fielder with good instincts and the potential to be the Cardinals leadoff hitter of the future. The 22-year-old Tilson will never hit for power, but he did hit .289/.333/.389 in over 500 at bats between single A and double A last season while playing exceptional defense. The Cardinals currently have a lot of talented outfielders at the major league level, but if Tilson shows more patience at the plate he may force the Cards to promote him sooner rather than later.

ETA: 2016

7: Tim Cooney, LHP

Cooney will never blow anyone away with his fastball, but he has solid control and a deceptive change-up, which allowed him to win 14 games for the Cards triple A team last season. This 24-year-old southpaw projects as a number 4 starter, but he will probably break in with the Cardinals as a reliever in 2015.

ETA: 2015

8: Aledmys Díaz, SS

Now this is where it starts to get tricky. Díaz is already 24 years old and has only one injury plagued season of double A baseball under his belt, but he has the potential to be a power threat at shortstop, which is a rarity these days in the MLB. Although it was only in 161 at bats, Díaz hit .274/.324/.441 last season and during his time playing professionally in Cuba from 2007-2012 he consistently hit over .300 with power. Díaz has the arm to stay at shortstop, but dating back to his Cuba days he has never been a great fielder and he will really need to improve his defense if he wants to stay at his current position. If Díaz can log 500 at bats next season and improve defensively, look for him to fly through the minors and be with the big club before we know it.

ETA: 2016


9: Magneuris Sierra, CF

While Sierra may not be considered a top ten prospect by some, I think anyone who hits .386/.434/.505 and wins their organizations minor league player of the year award should be considered one. Sierra was a relative unknown entering the season, but became a hot commodity as it progressed earning high praise from everyone who watched him play. When Sierra’s Manager and former scout Steve Turco was asked about Sierra he referred to him as, “a potential five-tool player who will develop easy power.” Sierra is also one of the better defenders in the lower level Gulf Coast League and projects to be an above average defender in the future. All in all, Sierra is only 18 and has plenty of time to develop his already impressive skills. If he does, Sierra could be one the Cardinals most exciting prospects in recent memory.

ETA: 2018

10: Juan Herrera, SS

Herrera was acquired at the 2013 trade deadline and has all of the defensive tools to be a major league shortstop. He is not the most competent offensively, but he has always had the ability to get on base (career .347 OBP in the minors) and could be an effective bottom of the order hitter if he continues to progress. The 21 year old Herrera also racked up 28 steals last season and could be a base stealing threat in the future.

ETA: 2017

Bottom Line:

The Cards have some enticing prospects, but their farm system is weaker than it has been in recent years due to the graduation of prospects and trades the organization has made. With an abundance of young, talented pitchers, look for the Cardinals to focus on drafting position players to bolster their organization in the coming years.

Winter Warm-Up Autograph Tickets On Sale Tomorrow

Today Cardinals Care, the charitable foundation of the St. Louis Cardinals, announced that tomorrow at 9 a.m. CT tickets for the Cardinals 19th Annual Winter Warm-Up will be on sale. Tickets can be bought at cardinals.com/winterwarmup and the event will be held from January 17th-19th at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch. Since its establishment in 1997, Cardinals Care has donated almost $20 million to to support non-profit youth organizations in disadvantaged areas of St. Louis. They have also built 21 youth baseball fields in these areas as well.

Normally I don’t post about fundraisers, but this event allows fans to meet offseason acquisitions Jason Heyward, Matt Belisle, Mark Reynolds and Jordan Walden for the first time, which is pretty cool. While some player’s autographs will be free, with an additional purchase of an autograph ticket (specific donation depending on the player) fans can receive autographs from new Cardinals as well as members of last year’s team. Over 60 current and former players will be on hand for the event and autograph donation amounts and times can be found by clicking on the above link.

All in all, it’s looking like the 2015 season is slowly starting to kick into gear and we can’t wait, Go Cards!
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The Dark Horse of Baseball

Matt Carpenter is one of the most underrated players in the game of baseball. I know this is a loaded statement, but if you hear me out I bet you will agree too. I don’t think there is a single player in Major League Baseball who symbolizes their team in the way Matt Carpenter represents the identity of the Cardinals. He is gritty, versatile, pesky, efficient and he stays under the radar. When the Cards signed Carpenter to a 6 year $52 million dollar extension last spring the teams Chairman Bill Dewitt said, “He’s the type of player you’d like to think could finish his career as a Cardinal”. This was high praise, especially for a player that had just completed his first full season in the big leagues and was not a highly touted prospect. But, Carpenter’s extension was awarded due to his work ethic, leadership qualities and locker room presence, not his statistical achievements. I will admit, Carpenter did regress last season, but if you dive deeper into the numbers he had a much better year than many gave him credit for.

When Carpenter had a triple slash of .318/.392/.481 during his first full season in the show while slapping 55 doubles, scoring 126 runs, amassing a 6.6 WAR and finishing fourth in the MVP voting, a lot was expected of him entering 2014. Carpenter did not perform as well in 2014, his triple slash was .272/.375/.375, he hit 33 doubles and posted a 3.0 WAR, but he was still one of the best third basemen in all of baseball. Carpenter will never be the 30 home run 100 RBI guy in the lineup, but he gets on base at an unbelievable rate, which is just as important. Carpenter was third in the MLB with 95 walks last season, and his 99 runs scored and .375 OBP were good for second best at his position. On top of this, Carpenter was third in the majors with 4.37 pitches seen per plate appearance, third with 9 sacrifice flies and fourth amongst third basemen with 93.9 runs created (the runs created statistic was created by Bill James to explain the number of runs a hitter contributes to his team). I am not making the argument that Carpenter had a better year than he did in 2013, because that is blatantly not true, but he is still an under appreciated asset who does not get as much credit as he deserves. If the Cards are smart they will stick Carpenter at the top of the lineup once again next season. With Jason Heyward, Matt Holliday, Matt Adams and Yadier Molina potentially hitting in that order behind him, look for Carpenter to be the spark of a high octane offense and score around 120 runs once again in 2015.

MLB: NLDS-St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates