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BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S1

SUNDAY • 03.24.2019 • SECTION S

WIN. NOW. The Cardinals made their big move in the offseason by trading for Paul Goldschmidt, then signed him to a long-term deal this spring.

CHRISTIAN GOODEN • CGOODEN@POST-DISPATCH.COM

MAKING THE DEAL

WHY TRADE IS SO BIG

FOWLER FEELS READY TO ROLL

A NEW WORLD OUT THERE

‘LIFER’ A LABEL SHILDT ENJOYS

The Cardinals pestered Arizona until landing Goldschmidt. PAGE 2

Benjamin Hochman writes that new first baseman means Cards win. PAGE 4

Ben Frederickson on what Redbirds need from their right fielder. PAGE 6

Miller and Hicks will help the Cardinals adjust as bullpens evolve. PAGE 7

Cardinals manager has no regrets about his focus on baseball. PAGE 9

CARDINALS

1 M


BASEBALL PREVIEW

S2 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

HOW TO CLOSE A GAP Goldschmidt deal reflects the Cardinals’ hunger to win now BY DERRICK GOOLD St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I

f he timed this right, Paul Goldschmidt had a chance — just enough of a window — to get some Christmas shopping done after a workout. He had 20 days to go but felt a self-imposed urgency “to get ahead on a few things,” and he wanted to find a gift for his wife, Amy. He drove through the Phoenix area when the phone call came that changed the direction of his car, and his career. Four states and a 22-hour drive away, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt and his staff completed 2½ days of meetings at the moment Shildt’s phone stirred. During a gathering of the baseball operations staff at Busch Stadium, conversations had long since shifted from auditing 2018 to shaping 2019. The purpose, Shildt said later, was to identify “blind spots, turn them into sweet spots.” Their focus was on the players they had and areas they could improve, but what they missed could not be ignored. Shildt’s phone chimed with an internal email that would vanish within a month, one sent to a small circle of Cardinals officials. He walked into the coaches’ locker room, where bench coach Oliver Marmol and video coordinator Chad Blair had yet to leave, and read them the message. His grin gave away the ending. “We just got through spending our time doing our due diligence on closing our gaps — what are we missing, where do we have a hole, how do we turn that into an advantage — and we just made a big gapclosing acquisition,” Shildt said. “We got Goldy.” In a four-player trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks the Cardinals landed a six-time All-Star who immediately turned two spots of need — monster offense, first-base defense — into strengths and shifted the onus where this organization rarely has: on one year. The Cardinals bet big that Goldschmidt would become enamored with a packedhouse atmosphere at Busch Stadium, the tailwind of being a Cardinal in St. Louis, and a franchise culture that demands to contend, perpetually. They wanted to prove to him that together they could win now – and for years to come. On Thursday, a week before his first official at-bat wearing the birds on the bat, he agreed to a five-year extension through 2024 that makes him the highest paid Cardinal ever. General manager Michael Girsch called the Goldschmidt trade “about as big of an upgrade as we could make in a single trade” but resisted the gravity it put on 2019. That’s “a bit blown out of proportion,” he said. Even with surety at first base for a while, the talking point remains “2019 matters.” Period. A driving force behind that is that Goldschmidt is in his peak at age 31, and two of the Cardinals’ other top-three hitters — Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna — have contracts that can expire in the fall. If the season goes sideways the club can bid adieu to nearly an eighth of the active roster, no strings attached. As the Cardinals open their 128th season this week against division champion Milwaukee at Miller Park, it’s not just the new pitch clock that’s counting down. “It’s like you’re getting toward the end of an era or the start of another one,” said third baseman Carpenter, who has a club option for 2020. “This could potentially be Adam Wainwright’s last year. Yadi (Molina) is near the end of his contract. My contract is near the end. Then you’ve got the uncertainty with one-year guys like Michael Wacha, Ozuna and (before the extension) Goldschmidt. All of that plays a factor. But I think the biggest thing, the most important reason we feel this urgency and the way we feel it, is anything less than a postseason berth for this club would be an underachievement.” Echoed Molina: “We have to live for the present. We’ve been left out of the playoffs the past three years, and we’ve got to have it this year. We cannot worry about 2020 or beyond that. We’ve got everything we need to make it happen.” The last time the Cardinals appeared in a playoff game, Molina watched it from the visitors’ dugout at Wrigley Field on Oct. 13, 2015. An injured thumb kept him from appearing in Game 4 of a National League Division Series, a game and series the archrival Cubs would win. The Cardinals’ retreat from playoff relevance was complete. Baseball has never had as many ways into the playoffs and yet for three years the Cardinals couldn’t find one. Since they last appeared in the postseason, cross-state Kansas City and alteredstate Cubs have won championships (2015, 2016). The Cardinals drafted spring sensation Dakota Hudson eight months after their last playoff game, and the Star Wars franchise, dormant for a decade, returned to theaters. A force slumbered. The Cardinals have not missed four consecutive playoffs since they went AWOL from 1988-1995. That preceded an ownership and leadership change. The last time they went this long without a playoff berth Shildt had the first of backto-back winning seasons as coach for West Charlotte High. Jordan Hicks wasn’t born yet. “I understand people want to see a team in October,” Cardinals executive John Mozeliak said. “I get it.” In the past three seasons, the Cardinals have the eighth-most wins in baseball (257). There have been eight teams with a winning record in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The Cardinals are the only one that never

PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN GOODEN • cgooden@post-dispatch.com

First baseman Paul Goldschmidt agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Thursday, pending a physical.

CLOCK’S TICKING ON MANY CARDINALS (All contracts include 2019 and remaining years and salary, not total deal from date of signing. Salaries are total owed, not including buyouts or options.) Matt Carpenter 3B 1 year, $14.5 million (2020 option) Jedd Gyorko UT 1 year, $13 million (2020 option) Marcell Ozuna LF 1 year, $12.25 million Michael Wacha RHP 1 year, $6.35 million Luke Gregerson RHP 1 year, $5 million (2020 option) Adam Wainwright RHP 1 year, $2 million (plus incentives) Matt Wieters C 1 year, $1.5 million Yadier Molina C 2 years, $40 million Andrew Miller LHP 2 years, $25 million (2021 option) Kolten Wong 2B 2 years, $16.75 million (2021 option) Brett Cecil LHP (DL) 2 years, $14.5 million Dexter Fowler RF 3 years, $49.5 million Carlos Martinez RHP (DL) 3 years, $34.5 million (2022-23 options) Miles Mikolas RHP 5 years, $76 million Paul DeJong SS 5 years, $22 million (2024-25 options) Paul Goldschmidt 1B 6 years, approximately $145 million (pending physical)

ZERO TO SIX YEARS OF SERVICE TIME (Arbitration and control based on full 2019 season in majors. All salaries less than $600,000 unless otherwise noted. Minimum salary for 2019 is $555,000.) Dominic Leone RHP $1.26 million, free agent after 2021 Chasen Shreve LHP $900,000, free agent after 2021 Jose Martinez OF 2 years-$3.25 million, free agent after 2022 Alex Reyes RHP Arbitration 2019, free agent after 2022 John Gant RHP Arbitration 2019, free agent after 2022 Jack Flaherty RHP Arbitration 2020, free agent after 2023 Jordan Hicks RHP Arbitration 2020, free agent after 2023 Mike Mayers RHP Arbitration 2020, free agent after 2023 John Brebbia RHP Arbitration 2020, free agent after 2023 Harrison Bader CF Arbitration 2020, free agent after 2023 Yairo Munoz UT Arbitration 2020, free agent after 2024 Dakota Hudson RHP Arbitration 2021, free agent after 2024 Tyler O’Neill OF Arbitration 2021, free agent after 2024 Cardinals paying $8 million of Gyorko’s salary. San Diego covering $5 million. Sources: Post-Dispatch reporting, Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Baseball-Reference.com. — Derrick Goold

reached the playoffs. The other seven did at least twice. This on-brand contending and off-brand absence from October captures the Cardinals’ middling bind. They have had 11 consecutive winning seasons, yet they’ve finished 33 games behind the Cubs in the past three years. In those seasons, the Cardinals have missed the playoffs by a total of 11 wins, combined. Close doesn’t cut it as Cardinals. They have lost their way at times, given way, and yet insist they still know the way. Acquiring an established star like Goldschmidt is a classic trade-now, extendlater gambit by the Cardinals, who intend to lean heavily on young, talented, homegrown pitchers. They’ve built previous contending teams in the same way. They aspire to show the Cardinals’ way hasn’t expired. “We expect to be in the playoffs every year, and that doesn’t change this year,” Girsch said. “I don’t think there’s a magic to 2019 that we’re ignoring everything beyond this year. We haven’t been in three years, so there’s an added element of need to get back to the playoffs again, to win the division.” Added Mozeliak, president of baseball operations: “The focus on this particular upcoming season had more of an emphasis than I’ve historically taken. I’m not a ‘window’ guy. It’s not like we’ve had losing years. What we set out to do is ask, ‘Is there a player out there who changes how we look?’” As they canvassed other teams’ wants and wishes in the offseason, the Cardinals caught wind that Arizona might, maybe, possibly be looking to trade their perennial All-Star, Goldschmidt. In the Cardinals’ postseason planning it’s unlikely his name ever came up as a target (“Probably not. Probably not,” Mozeliak said). Rarely do winning teams one year remove the face of their franchise the next. About “95 percent of the time” such talks lead nowhere, an official said. This one didn’t. In November, additional conversations with Arizona general manager Mike Hazen turned initial disbelief into opportunity. Then came the hounding. “Text. Call. Bothered,” Mozeliak said. “Nag.” The Cardinals wanted to improve their

defense and lineup, and in Goldschmidt they found the player who would do both, radically. They’ve chased similar players in recent offseasons and finished runner-up. “Bridesmaid,” Mozeliak called it. Mozeliak’s urgency was as clear as the text messages on his iPhone. So many to Hazen’s number, some unreturned, and some he read out loud to a reporter: “Hey, let me know if you have a minute.” “Look forward to catching up.” “Just want to get a sense if we need to speak prior to Thanksgiving.” “Would it be possible to speak?” “Just wanted to check in.” “Do you have 5 minutes?” This went on for weeks. The prize was worth the pestering. From the moment three-time MVP Albert Pujols left the National League, after the Cardinals’ championship in 2011, Goldschmidt had arrived as one of the league’s leading first basemen. He’s twice finished second in MVP voting. He’s one of six players to have at least 200 home runs since 2012. His on-base percentage since 2012 ranks third, at .400, behind Joey Votto (.441) and Mike Trout (.420). His slugging percentage (.534) is sixth overall and first at first base in the NL. At a position where the Cardinals committed 20 of their baseball-worst 133 errors, Goldschmidt has two Gold Gloves. Goldschmidt’s 39.8 WAR since 2012 ranks third, according to Baseball-Reference.com, and only one other player in the top eight was traded before hitting free agency. Rare, indeed. “The intention of the Cardinals to go get a guy for one year like that – that told me a lot,” said All-Star lefty reliever Andrew Miller, who signed with the Cardinals a few weeks after the Goldschmidt trade. “What he can do to make the people around him better in every way and what they gave up to get him. Whatever his batting average total is, whatever his RBI total is, or whatever his WAR is – that’s a 10th of it. Go ask around the room.” The Cardinals’ camp has had a crackle — and a crispness of play, if not success on offense — that has been absent in recent springs. Mozeliak traces that to Shildt, who took over as manager in July. Shildt insisted on focusing on what the

team did well and repelling a negativity that orbited them. In his 69 games, the Cardinals won 41 — a 97-win pace. The Cardinals committed quickly to their new manager and see him and their wealth of young pitchers, headlined by homeopener starter Jack Flaherty and Hicks, as the future core expected to win now. Shildt borrowed the phrase “normalized excellence” and made it the compass of spring training. He brought in guest speakers, all of whom had championship pedigree. Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney left a helmet as a gift, signing his name and a catchphrase, “All In.” “Last season it was like looking into a mirror that’s foggy and you’re wondering what you’re seeing, and then Shildt came in and wiped it down,” Carpenter said. “You’re like, ‘OK, wow, I see, I see this is actually something that might work.’ I was confident with this group coming into this year with what we’d see, and then we added pieces and it’s real clear.” The players describe how some of that radiates from Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt has run some of the team meetings, been quizzed by relievers on approach, and altered at least one way the Cardinals look at baserunning. In a start against the Mets, Austin Gomber felt an inning slipping away with runners on base when Goldschmidt approached him on the mound. He told Gomber the runner at first was going to try to steal, so throw over and he’d get the out. Gomber, desperate for traction, did. Goldschmidt called it. “It’s fun how far those ripples will go,” reliever John Brebbia said. “For so long we’ve been talking about how we need that one more big bat,” said one Cardinals player. “We added one guy, and it feels like we got three bats. That one raises all others. You want the guy who makes your best guys more confident. We have that guy.” Goldschmidt’s plan the day he was dealt to St. Louis was to order his wife a piece of jewelry, a cross on a necklace, for Christmas. He was on his way when a call came from Diamondbacks officials, asking if they could come to his house. He was closer to manager Torey Lovullo’s home than his own, so they converged there to tell him about the trade. The fulcrum of Arizona’s franchise had been sent to the Cardinals for starter Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, a draft pick and prospect Andy Young. When Goldschmidt slipped on his new No. 46 at a news conference in December and heard the first questions, the expectations that came with the Redbirds jersey took roost. “I’m thinking these guys are winning every year, and then I come in and I learn it’s been more of a letdown the last few years,” Goldschmidt said. “That’s something that has stood out to me. The hunger. And the focus. That’s where it’s coming from. Just getting to the playoffs isn’t enough.” In Tampa this spring, at the Yankees’ ballpark, three Madden kids scored prime location by the Cardinals’ dugout for autographs. Clark, Cole and Ceci, ages 9, 7, and 10, respectively, traveled with their parents, Lance and Cynthia, from Lake St. Louis. They spent time chatting with Shildt, landed a few autographs from other players, and when Goldschmidt came over they showed him the playoff focus he sensed isn’t isolated to the clubhouse. The fans see the opportunity the Cardinals have with him, and they too would like jewelry. The biggest gap Goldschmidt is expected to help close is the one between Octobers. It’s been a third of the Madden kids’ lives, after all. “My Dad says you can help us win the World Series,” Clark told Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt handed back an autograph and grinned with a reply. “I hope so.” Derrick Goold @dgoold on Twitter dgoold@post-dispatch.com


BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

PROJECTED OPENING DAY LINEUP

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S3

Your Hometown Locksmith

1. MATT CARPENTER, 3B (L) Only American League MVP Mookie Betts had a higher OPS at the leadoff position than Carpenter’s .919, and they were the only leadoff hitters in the majors at .900+.

2. DEXTER FOWLER, RF (S) After career highs in 2017 for HRs (18), slugging (.488) and RBIs (63), 2018 cratered to widespread lows. Has nose for OBP: career .360 ranks 12th for active players with 5,000 plate appearances.

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3. PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT, 1B (R) Since Albert Pujols left the National League after 2011, Goldschmidt leads all first basemen in the NL in homers (201), RBIs (684) and slugging (.534), and he’s second in OPS (.934).

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4. MARCELL OZUNA, LF (R) Even with a shoulder that impeded his power, his .280/.325/.433 line and .758 OPS in 2018 was closer to his career .277/.329/.452 and .781 than his monster .924 OPS in 2017.

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5. PAUL DEJONG, SS (R) His .532 slugging percentage in 2017 was the second-highest by a rookie shortstop in at least 50 years, and No. 1 (Trevor Story, .567) calls Coors Field home.

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6. YADIER MOLINA, C (R) An underrated, gifted contact hitter: Of the 27 players with at least 7,000 plate appearances since 2004, none has struck out fewer times than Molina’s 724. The next closest is 850.

7. KOLTEN WONG, 2B (L) In addition to league-leading defense, Wong’s .384 on-base percentage led all second basemen in the second half of this past season. His .317 post-All-Star break average ranked fourth at second.

8. HARRISON BADER, CF (R) Among 25 center fielders with at least 350 at-bats in 2018, Bader ranked sixth with a 3.8 Wins Above Replacement, boosted heavily by his golden defensive play.

9. MILES MIKOLAS, P (R) One of two pitchers with two homers last season (John Gant was the other). For the second time in three years, Cardinals pitchers as a group led NL in average, slugging, and OPS, at .400.

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Derrick Goold @dgoold on Twitter dgoold@post-dispatch.com

POST-DISPATCH PHOTOS

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S4 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

BASEBALL PREVIEW

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

BRIDGE TO SUCCESS Goldschmidt will make the difference in making the playoffs BENJAMIN HOCHMAN St. Louis Post-Dispatch

T

hey’ve known each other for a decade now, since the year they were drafted, back when Paul was a Missoula Osprey and Nolan was a Casper Ghost. First opponents in the Pioneer League, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado ultimately became great sluggers of the National League. There were enough homers to check the humidors and enough Gold Gloves to impress even Yadi; All-Star Games with each other and the famous wild-card game against each other; and then, this offseason, Goldschmidt’s huge trade and Arenado’s huge contract. Few ballplayers have better abilities than Arenado, and few ballplayers know Goldschmidt’s abilities better. Asked this spring about his former division foe, Arenado flatly said: “He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen. By far. ... “He does everything. He’s a five-tool player. People forget that. He runs the bases, he’ll get 20-plus bags every year. You don’t realize that. He’s an underrated five-tool player.” And Goldschmidt is why the Cardinals will win now. He’s the bridge between 88 wins and 94 wins, and if they win a World Series, who knows, maybe they’ll name a bridge after him someday. But — finally, mercifully — the Cardinals will return to the postseason in 2019. Sure, yes, the Cardinals have to stay healthy. But they now have all the right puzzle pieces to go with this new enormous piece. “We have a really talented team,” said the first baseman Goldschmidt, No. 46 with the birds on the bat. “Now we’re going to have to go out there and earn it. … This might be the best division in baseball.” Considering that the defending division champs with the reigning MVP are sometimes discounted? Yeah, that’s how good the NL Central is. But Milwaukee won’t be able to match its slugging from a season ago. The Cubs? They’ll make the playoffs, just like St. Louis will. They’re too talented. They have a healthy Kris Bryant. They have too many big-name pitchers for all of them to have down years the same year. And the Reds even added lumber. But the “best division in

CHRISTIAN GOODEN • cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Cardinals infielder Paul Goldschmidt takes batting practice at spring training.

baseball” just makes for a better story. The Cardinals, after three years of uneven seasons and uneventful Septembers, are built like a team for October. It used to be that a lot had to go right for them to make the playoffs; now, a lot of things have to go wrong for them not to. Of course, one major “wrong” already occurred — and already, before the season began, we saw some supplanting that shows this organization’s depth. Carlos Martinez, probably the most talented pitcher under contract, didn’t arrive in camp with a properly strengthened shoulder. It’s maddening, even embarrassing, especially considering his lost season of 2018. So, Martinez won’t start out as a starter. But the Cards were able to fill his void with an in-house horse — Dakota Hudson, a ground ball whisperer who just happened to win the Class AAA Pacific Coast League’s award for top pitcher last season (after winning the same award in the Class AA Texas League the year before). But in recent seasons, the bullpen has failed the Cardinals — or, looking at some of the managerial decisions, the Cardi-

THESE FIVE THINGS MUST HAPPEN FOR THE CARDS TO WIN THE NL CENTRAL 1. OUTFIELD OFFENSE The corner outfielders must provide what they’re known for — Marcell Ozuna with hard hits and slugging, Dexter Fowler with a high on-base percentage. 2. STUDS START OFTEN Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty and Michael Wacha are penciled in for quality seasons and starts , but injuries to one of these three could leave a void. 3. BEAT THE EASY TEAMS The Cardinals haven’t dominated poor teams the way the Cubs and Dodgers have in recent seasons. 4. NO DEJONG REGRESSION Shortstop Paul DeJong has the offensive and defensive combo to be a rare shortstop. But he’s yet to play more than 115 games in a season. 5. FIELD SMOOTHLY The Cards have five players who could vie for a Gold Glove. But that doesn’t mean the other four can be like Jose Martinez out there. Benjamin Hochman

nals failed the bullpen. Either way, with some relievers faltering in key moments, there’s been little reliability and much liability. But 2019 seems different. Yes, we all know the story — they desired an “Andrew Miller-type” reliever and got the actual Andrew Miller. But beyond this multi-inning slider-chucker, there are so many intimidating arms in the bullpen. Jordan Hicks and his triple-digit filth and rookie (again) Alex Reyes, hurling the stuff that once made him the No. 1 pitching prospect. John Brebbia has a career 2.81 ERA. And Martinez himself might find a role in the bullpen, and inevitably he’ll be a lights-out reliever and people will forget about how he let down St. Louis to begin with. But the bullpen optimism isn’t just in the individuals, it’s also in the team-first identity. You’ve got fire-snorting pitchers who can pitch any inning. “When you hear the phrase ‘modern bullpen,’” said John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations, “I believe that is defined by using pitchers in the highest leverage possible and having pitchers who can pitch more than one inning, thus creating optimization and flexibility. As I reflect on our bullpen you can see that we have DNA for that. We should have the flexibility and resources to do this.” All of this won’t matter if the bullpen doesn’t have many leads to protect. Which goes back to the optimism in offense. Here, Goldschmidt is the bridge, too. He connects the former All-Stars at the top of the lineup with the big bats behind him. Goldschmidt, probably hitting third, is an OPS weapon. “You look at the young guys, and all the guys like me who need to prove something – and you then add Goldschmidt?” second baseman Kolten Wong said this spring. “You have (Matt) Carpenter on the verge of winning an MVP, also (Marcell) Ozuna? We have the tools, we have everybody we need in place — and we have all the guys who are hungry in place. “It’s one of those things where — as soon as you step onto the field to start spring training, you can feel that buzz going around. People are here for a reason. There is no just, ‘I’m happy to be here.’ No, we’re here to get better, to get ready for the season and to try to win the World Series.” Benjamin Hochman @hochman on Twitter bhochman@post-dispatch.com


BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S5

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

S6 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

SPREAD THE WORD Fowler, Cards are confident that this season will be different BEN FREDERICKSON St. Louis Post-Dispatch

W

JUPITER, FLA.

hen Dexter Fowler feels good, every sense experiences evidence. His positivity is palpable. His enthusiasm crackles. His contagious energy is audible, spreading out like the sound waves that transform a sleepy spring training Sunday morning in the Cardinals’ clubhouse into a club. Been there, done that, messed around I’m having fun, don’t put me down I’ll never let you sweep me off my feet Fowler presses play, and the remix of the La Roux song ‘Bulletproof’ is blaring. Yairo Munoz is peppering the lyrics with shouts in Spanish. Daniel Ponce de Leon sways while Adam Wainwright smiles. Dakota Hudson shuffles through in his sandals, a young father embracing his dad moves. Drew Robinson comes around a corner, sees the party and starts shaking his sports drink like a maraca. Fowler, the center of attention, moves toward the middle of the room. He raises both arms above his head. Been there, done that, messed around I’m having fun, don’t put me down I’ll never let you sweep me off my feet This time, baby, I’ll be, bulletproof This time, baby, I’ll be, bulletproof He’s back. That’s what I want to believe about Fowler, especially after taking time to better understand what 2018 felt like for him. The financial benefits of the fiveyear, $82.5 million contract he signed are swell. No one is suggesting otherwise. But money isn’t everything. Ask Fowler. By year two of his deal, he had changed positions twice, clashed with a flailing manager and felt piled-on-upon by his boss. His foot hurt, then snapped. His mental health suffered in silence. On the day of his 2016 introduction as the Cardinals’ new leadoff-hitting center fielder, Fowler fielded questions about his willingness to move to a corner. Talk about feeling backed into one. Fowler was supposed to be an All-Star. He was supposed to make the Cardinals fun again. He was supposed to change places in the outfield and lineup without skipping a beat. We expected a lot. “You get to the point where you almost feel handcuffed, like I can’t be me,” Fowler said from his locker. “You can’t be yourself.”

Fowler CHRISTIAN GOODEN • cgooden@post-dispatch.com

OTHER OPTIONS IN RIGHT FIELD Jose Martinez • A Gold Glove is not in his future, but no current Cardinals outfielder can match Martinez’s Matt-Carpenter-like .847 on-base plus slugging percentage since 2017. Tyler O’Neill • The Cardinals’ 2018 minor league player of the year hits home runs in his sleep, and he will apply pressure on all outfield positions if the lineup’s power production flickers. Yairo Munoz • The Swiss Army knife spent 94 major league innings among right, center and left field last season, and he did not commit a single error in either corner spot. Lane Thomas • The Blue Jay turned Cardinal led Cardinals minor leaguers in home runs (27) and RBIs (88) while playing at Class AA and Class AAA last season, and he could have a leg up on fellow outfield prospect Randy Arozarena because of the broken hand Arozarena suffered late in camp. — Ben Frederickson

“You take a step back. I’ll let you do what you do, and I’ll sit back. And then everybody is like, ‘Well, Dex is not Dex.’ Well, I can’t be me at that point. I just couldn’t be me.” It’s better now, right? Fowler says so. The Cardinals concur. A mutual respect between Fowler and manager Mike Shildt helps. With Shildt, Fowler has found what he lost with former manager Mike Matheny: trust. “Even if you are wrong, (Shildt is) going to come up and tell you,” Fowler said. “I respect the hell out of him. ... He’s not afraid to have fun. He’s not afraid to, breathe.” A friendship between Fowler and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak has been repaired. The two spoke three times the day Mozeliak made regrettable public comments last season regarding questions he received about Fowler’s effort. Despite what you might read in Baseball Prospectus, Dex and Mo are good. See their golf outings as evidence. “Stuff comes out wrong,” Fowler said. “I get it. Once it’s out there, it’s nega-

tive Dex. But me and Mo’s relationship is great. I respect him. He was the one behind bringing me here. I’m forever grateful for that. I’m just trying to not worry about any of that stuff, and go out and play hard for these guys, my teammates.” Feel better, play better. It’s the Cardinals’ plan for Fowler. If it works, a great redemption story awaits. If it doesn’t? Good question. A candid answer remains hidden. The team is hoping it doesn’t have to reveal it. “Refreshed,” Shildt said, describing Fowler. “That captures what he is. There are two tests to it. There is the eye test, and the interaction test. I kind of put those two together. And then there are the measurables.” Fowler looks stronger, physically. He is running free. He has twice thrown out baserunners who tested him. He’s rounding bases with intent, looking for bobbles that could lead to another bag. His swings once again arrive with aggression. Fowler’s career average exit velocity reads 87.4 mph. Last season, he

averaged a career-low 85.3 mph. This spring, his average exit velocity on wellhit balls has been higher than the exit velocity of any ball he hit last season. These numbers mean more to the Cardinals than Grapefruit League batting lines. “If a guy is consistently at a good exit velocity, balls are going to be hitting gaps,” Shildt said. Fowler reminds people that these cuts are the first he’s taken in games since early August. He was in a walking boot until around Thanksgiving. “I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things, literally.” he said. “I’m feeling comfortable in the box. My balance is there now.” Perhaps the hardest part of this entire situation is determining a reasonable expectation for Fowler. It’s difficult to imagine a 2016 All-Star and very productive Cardinal in 2017 becoming one of baseball’s worst hitters, for good. It’s also hard to imagine a 32-year-old who has averaged 121 games per season over the last six years returning to an All-Star level after foot problems shortened his past two seasons. Maybe Fowler can carve out a place somewhere in the middle. And that’s where the next debate waits. For the Cardinals to be the best version of themselves, Fowler does not just need to be better than he was last season. He needs to be a better all-around player than corner-outfield candidates Jose Martinez and Tyler O’Neill. He doesn’t need to be better than Bryce Harper, but he needs to help make the Cardinals better than the Phillies. “If I play every day, and get the at-bats I can get, my career numbers are going to be where they’re at,” said Fowler, who from 2009 to 2017 averaged .268 with a .367 on-base percentage and a .430 slugging percentage. Focus on that number in the middle. For nine seasons before last year’s collapse, the switch-hitting Fowler ranked 20th in baseball in OBP. Fowler on base keeps Fowler in the lineup. Fowler off base makes a case for Fowler on the bench. Bulletproof Fowler isn’t considering the latter. He departed spring with one in his step. “I know when I’m having fun, and I’m out there just smiling, and my mental is there, then the physical stuff will show up,” he said. “That’s a big part of this game. That’s a big part of life.” Ben Frederickson @Ben_Fred on Twitter bfrederickson@post-dispatch.com

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03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

BASEBALL PREVIEW

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S7

CLOSER BY CALCULUS Cardinals feel well-positioned to deal with the evolution of bullpens

CHRISTIAN GOODEN • cgooden@post-dispatch.com

In Andrew Miller (left) and Jordan Hicks, the Cardinals have two relief pitchers who “don’t make the situation bigger than it is,” manager Mike Shildt says.

fast-forward Hicks toward the role. Or, as Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said, “Maybe not quite as scripted as in the past, not worrying so much about the save.” This isn’t closer by committee. It’s closer by calculus. “I do think there is less value in being a closer in general, and we’ve seen that,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “The successful closers over the last few years, like the Cody Allens of the world, historically some team would have snatched them up. (Craig) Kimbrel is still sitting out there (as a free agent). I think some teams are thinking maybe we don’t need that ninth-inning guy. We need the leverage guy – someone who can come in, throw strikes, and do it in the big situations, whenever those big situations are. You can do it, it can work, if you have the right people.”

to agree with you. You don’t have to be the ninth-inning closer with entrance music to get that to stroke your ego a little bit.” John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, JUPITER, FLA. called Miller “the linchpin to this group, that makes it he Cardinals have a vision of where they want whole.” No team in the majors had a higher ERA from their season to end and who will sear the pitches its lefty relievers than the Cardinals’ 5.61, but there was that decide it, but on the way they’ll use a modmore to Miller than his handedness. ern, hyper-analytic relief approach to groom a A statistic that illustrates the modern bullpen and traditional closer, one unlike any in the game. how Miller personifies it is Win Probability Added. It Undone often last season by a hodgepodge bullpen, measures the impact an event had on the team’s likelithe Cardinals will not name a closer, per se, to open the hood of winning, and a player’s WPA is a cumulative 2019 season. Instead, they’ll use key matchups to free number that reflects how a player has added (or subthemselves from the shackles of the save statistic and tracted) to the probability. Since 2012, four relievers join baseball’s post-closer culture. An official said their have a WPA of 15.00 or greater. Three are the era’s best late innings “could have many faces,” leaning on versaclosers: Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman. tile veteran Andrew Miller from the left and ascendant The other, Miller, ranked No. 3 at 16.46. reliever Jordan Hicks on the right to share the ninth, The Cardinals last season had based on the opponent. The Carthe division’s worst bullpen ERA dinals have a precise plan to tame “You can be the hero out of the bullpen in the third inning. (4.38) and highest WHIP (1.47). the most volatile role in baseball, They started the season with a and eventually, their solution will That’s pretty wild. But I think appreciating that and being ready closer who spent most of the seareveal itself, as if with a snap of for that starts to agree with you. You don’t have to be the ninth-inning son injured, paid $14 million for the fingers. Endgame. an All-Star closer who flopped, They know who. They know closer with entrance music to get that to stroke your ego a little bit.” got 28 saves from Bud Norris, how. and finished the year with openSuccess will determine when. — Andrew Miller, Cardinals relief pitcher ing day starter Carlos Martinez as “The reality is while we don’t closer. WPA is unkind, even after say it’s Jordan, period, Jordan is In 2016, as Cleveland’s pitching coach, Callaway had a midseason reboot. The Brewers, the best bullpen in the going to get a lot of those opportunities. Let’s not kid those people. At his and manager Terry Francona’s finNL Central, had three players with at least 12 saves and ourselves here,” manager Mike Shildt said. “The good gertips were closer Allen and a series of versatile relievtwo of the top five WPA relievers in baseball, Josh Hader news is we have multiple people who can do it. We’ve ers that included Miller. Every revolution needs a face, and Jeremy Jeffress. The Cubs had the most impactdeclared a couple of guys at the end who will get the and what began with the Cardinals’ aggressive bullpen ful bullpen in the NL according to its 9.45 WPA. The majority of it. Jordan will get a lot of it. It won’t be like use in the 2011 National League Championship Series Cardinals had the second lowest WPA (minus-4.54) in the phone will ring and everybody will wonder what the found its in Miller. Here was a reliever willing and able baseball. They were one of only two winning teams with heck is going on.” to be used whenever the highest-leverage moment hapa minus-WPA. The Cardinals, along with defending World Series pened, not handcuffed to the ninth by some statistic. Put another way: In an era of statistically utilized champion Boston, are among a handful of teams that Miller won the 2016 ALCS MVP and didn’t start a bullpens, the Cardinals’ 2018 bullpen did more harm will not have a designated closer as the regular season single game, had only one save, and yet in 7 2/3 innings than good. begins. They will adopt an evolved bullpen that first “That’s my point: Understanding the highest levercrystallized in October. The data-driven theory is that struck out 14 and strong-armed Cleveland to the penage moment to use somebody I think becomes how you not all ninth innings are created equal, so why deploy the nant. have the most optimal bullpen,” Mozeliak said. “Closer closer for a save when the decisive moment of the game “The way teams are being built now you can be a reby committee historically has not been a real successcomes in the seventh or eighth inning? Miller looms ally, really good reliever and not have a chance of sniffful model. ... It’s not that we don’t want a familiar face when a threatening lefthanded hitter, like reigning MVP ing the ninth inning,” Miller said. “But you can be on a getting the eighth and ninth innings. It’s more how the Christian Yelich, is set to hit in the ninth, just as Hicks really, really good team and be a highly critical piece for game sets up and in having a manager and a pitching will be there in late innings to face former MVP Kris Brythat team. We all have egos. You can be the hero out of coach comfortable to move those pieces.” ant, a righthanded hitter. the bullpen in the third inning. That’s pretty wild. But He’s signaling for the righthander, Shildt. Matchups matter, not saves, even as the Cardinals I think appreciating that and being ready for that starts As he worked his way through the Cardinals’ organization and ran minor-league spring training, Shildt had a ringside seat for the discussions former manager Tony La Russa and his staff would have. A long-running debate La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan had was where they would start building a pitching staff — from an ace backward (La Russa) or a closer forward (Duncan). Duncan argued a titan closer spitting lightning in the ninth meant the opponent arrived at the ballpark knowing it had three fewer outs, one fewer inning to win. A good closer intimidated. The Cardinals believe they have the game’s next pyrotechnic talent with the game’s best fastball, a reliever who fits Duncan’s archetype: Hicks. “They can energize your own team,” Miller said. “When Chapman showed up certainly the energy of the fans or the ballpark was pretty impressive. I don’t want to say intimidation or fear, but that factor of them coming in for the other team — it’s that feeling that the game is over. There is nothing more important for a closer or a late-inning guy coming in and the other M 65 T M 49 T team knowing it’s over before it starts. Jordan’s stuff SR 33 puts him in that category.” Until that stuff — the 103-mph sinker, the biting slider, the budding changeup — owns the ninth, the Cardinals will manage matchups, and in those matchups find structure. Shildt said the plan may seem “ambiguous” outside the clubhouse, but it’s his job to give it clarity within those walls. Players won’t be tethered to innings. Rather they will be prescribed assignments and situations, even specific spots in the order. Instead of Miller being held for the eighth inning, he’ll be assigned Joey Votto when the game is in the balance, whether that’s the eighth or ninth. The situations and splits will be more complex than earmarking innings — for Shildt and pitching coach Mike Maddux. Shildt said his job is to simplify for the players “so they know how they’re going to be used.” Ultimately, if the approach works, roles will find relievers. “The best bullpens are bullpens with guys who get that — they don’t feel married to a role,” Shildt said. “The more of them we have the better. Guys like Jordan Great buys on jewelry Gr and Andrew who don’t make the situation bigger than it is. Just pitch. Just pitch. You’re down by two? Pitch. and unclaimed Be aggressive. You’re up by two? Pitch. Be aggressive. merchandise You’re not pitching to retain anything or hold on to anything or save anything. 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BASEBALL PREVIEW

S8 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S9

BASEBALL COMES FIRST Shildt has dedicated his life to the game he loves

CHRISTIAN GOODEN • cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt (second from left) walks from a practice field with staff members (from left to right), Jose Oquendo, Oliver Marmol and Stubby Clapp.

there. I looked up and said, ‘This isn’t going to work.’” He still would like a family. “It’s not as uncommon for an older gentleman to have a family,” he said. “But I’ve got to find the right person to have it with.” At the moment, JUPITER, FLA. however, he has no “substantive” relationships. ike Shildt is what is labeled a baseball “lifer.” But he has a truck. “How can they refuse that?” he And proud of it. cracked. “I love that term,” he said. “The people that Now, back to baseball ... I always wanted to be one day were the baseShildt said he thought that management expected him ball lifers. The term ‘baseball lifer’ has always been really “to get the best out of the team that we’re given. I think cool. And as you get older and get more mature in this our front office, our fan base, can be pretty appreciative game and you hear that said about you, it brings a smile. if you’re getting the most out of what you have. Play the It means you’ve done something right to stay in the game. game with the right amount of effort. Be fundamentally “I want to be in this game in this capacity as long as I’m sound. And, in my job, not make perfect decisions but a drawing breath.” lot of really good decisions. Players Shildt never has married. Might win games. My job is to put them in want to someday. Was engaged “I just have to live up to what I’m capable of and the standard I’m the best spot to win a game.” once but broke it off. Possesses a capable of. I feel a strong accountability and I embrace the high John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ college business degree but has no president of baseball operations, idea what he would be doing if he standard that is the St. Louis Cardinals.” said, “What you expect to see out weren’t in baseball. — Mike Shildt, Cardinals manager of your manager is someone who Shildt just isn’t in baseball. He is displays the characteristics that he the manager of the St. Louis Caris showing. Excellent communication skills. Transparency “Do I know that it’s the most healthy balance? Probably dinals, who have had the likes of Rogers Hornsby, Frankie with the players. Strategic. Organized. Efficient. And an not,” said Shildt, laughing. Frisch, Billy Southworth, Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herexpert in game management. “Do I seek and hope and want for there to be more balzog, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa as previous managers. “But all of these things we saw briefly last season before ance in my life? I do. But I do know that this is a job that All are in the Hall of Fame, not to mention Eddie Dyer, who he was named (full-time) manager,” Mozeliak said. Shildt, requires a lot of responsibility and requires a lot of dediwon a World Series in 1946. adroitly changing the vibe in a tense clubhouse, directed cation. And me being able to be mostly single-focused is “It’s hard to describe, really,” Shildt said. “You’re talkthe team to a 41-28 finish after he succeeded Mike Mavery important for me to be able to execute and do the best ing Hall of Fame. Legacy. Founding fathers of not only the theny as an interim manager. I can for this club.” Cardinals but managing in major league baseball. So it’s “Ultimately, he’s done nothing to create any doubt conSo, he is a bachelor. Is he eligible? very humbling and it’s an amazing honor. I’m very grateful cerning any of those things I just said,” Mozeliak said. “I think I’m an eligible bachelor,” he said. “There might to be in such a distinguished group.” That Shildt never played professional doesn’t bother be somebody else who might not think the same. But I But, said Shildt, one of eight managers since 1999 who Yadier Molina. definitely have interest. I’m more than open.” never has played professionally, “You can’t let it be daunt“It’s rare,” said the Cardinals’ catcher, “but you find There was one engagement and several other relationing. If you think about it, it could be daunting. I have the guys like that. They can teach and they can be a leader. ships, he said, that “at the end, for a variety of reasons, just utmost respect for that group, and I’ve studied the group Shildt is one of those guys. He’s got my respect. He’s got didn’t work out.” and I’m blessed to know Whitey and Tony and I got close everybody’s respect here. I know this guy’s a good manThe engagement — ”a mistake,” Shildt said — came to Red, which was a treasured relationship. But the reality ager. He’s a good person. He’s a good leader. I like him.” when he was in his mid-30s some 15 years ago. “I always is, I can’t worry about trying to live up to anybody else’s A measure of a manager may come in how he reacts to a wanted a family. I wanted kids,” he said. “It wasn’t haplegacy or reputation or standard. long losing streak. pening and I just tried to force a relationship that wasn’t “I just have to live up to what I’m capable of and the “As things get more tense,” said Mozeliak, “does a manager allow for people to breathe or does he suck more air out of the room? A good leader always finds ways to have oxygen pumped into a room and not taken out.” Mozeliak said he felt the Cardinals had that type of person. He calls Shildt “congenial and someone who welcomes you into his office or into his space. But should you do something that displeases him, he’s going to let you know. And I think that’s a good sign of a leader,” Mozeliak said. We are seeking qualified patients desiring dental implant After giving bench coach Shildt the job as an interim manager, Mozeliak began putting together his list of treatment! Qualified patients offered greatly reduced fees. potential candidates for the future as Shildt was going General and cosmetic care available at the same location. All through an on-the-job interview. “He ran with it,” said Mozeliak. work is performed by an experienced Implant Dentist and In September, he no longer was an interim manager. member of the ADA and Academy of Implant Dentistry. “Why did we do it then and not wait until the end of the season or interview a few other people, just in case?” said Must call before May 1st. Mozeliak. “The reason was we had a lot of confidence he was the right man for this job. Why play a game of chaFor a FREE evaluation, Call: 314-251-5775 rades when you know where you’re going to end up?” Some front offices have their fingers on the manager’s or visit us at www.mercy.dental pulse more than others. “Mo and (general manager Michael) Girsch and I have good dialogue and relationships,” Shildt said. “Mo has been doing this for a long time, and I trust his guidance and wisdom. “They’ve been very supportive of giving us everything we need. They’re not dictating lineups. We discuss how to best use the analytic tools, but they’re not ramming it down our throat. I get the last say.” As Mozeliak often has said in the past few months, the Cardinals are in it to win it this year. Anything less than a division title “definitely would be a disappointment,” No tear out required, simply resurface! said Shildt. “I’m not going to kid you. We talk about the high expectations of this organization. We’re shooting ■ Pebble Stone Epoxy System for championships — division, National League and the We offer SEVERAL World Series.” ■ Texture Craft What if there were no baseball life for “baseball lifer” ATTRACTIVE & DURABLE Shildt? ■ Outdoor Paver Tiles PRODUCT OPTIONS!! “It literally scares me to death,” he said. “What would I ■ Epoxy Coatings - Flake System, be doing? I honestly have no idea. WITH COMBINED DISCOUNTS “By the grace of God, I don’t have to worry about it. Metallic System, etc. Call for details. Expires 3-31-19 My dad gave me great advice, though. He said, ‘Find one thing you can do really, really well and you’ll always have a job.’” Shildt paused a moment when asked what he does really well. “I’ve got a grasp of what the job looks like,” he said, finally. “I’ve studied it my whole life. I’ve dedicated myself to understand what it takes to do this job. GIVING “I’d like to think that if you’re going to spend all your BACK time doing it, you have some reasonable ability to do it. Senior, OVER 20 YEARS EXPERIENCE • LOCALLY OWNED & FAMILY OPERATED Military & First Beyond that ... I just love it.” standard I’m capable of. I feel a strong accountability and I embrace the high standard that is the St. Louis Cardinals,” said Shildt, who is 50 years old besides being the 50th manager of the Cardinals. Most big-league managers are married or have children. Shildt falls into neither category. “I feel like one of the reasons I’m here,” Shildt said, “is because I have dedicated a good portion of my entire life in getting here. “I’ve always considered myself very, very blessed to know that what I have (in) ability is also my passion — to have those two synched up. I just love the game. I love teaching the game. I love studying the game. I love talking the game. I love the competition of the game. And I enjoy being immersed in it.

BY RICK HUMMEL St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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S10 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

BASEBALL PREVIEW

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S11

Professional Basketball In St. Louis!

Final 8 National Championship American Basketball Tournament Association e g e l l o C s i u o L . t at S y c a m r a h P of L I R P A

3 1 10 TH

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

S12 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

TOUGH COMPETITION Cardinals reside in a division that has been consistently strong BREAKING DOWN THE NL CENTRAL

BY RICK HUMMEL St. Louis Post-Dispatch

S

JUPITER, FLA.

ince 1995, the case can be made that the Central Division is the strongest division in the National League. That year was the first of the threeround playoffs and, counting wildcard games, the Central has had 37 postseason teams in that time to 35 for the NL West and 29 for the NL East. Fast forward to the 2018 season, when four of the five divisional teams had winning records, including fourth-place Pittsburgh at 82-79. This year, the case can be made that no team in the Central will lose more than 90 games and, by the same token, perhaps only one team will have 90 wins or more in the division. That might mean only one playoff berth among the Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs even though those three teams all could be in the upper echelon in the league. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds figure to be considerably stronger than they were last year. Pittsburgh will have ace righthander Chris Archer for a whole season, and he is likely to show that he still is one of the top starters in the game and not the one who went a combined 6-8 for the Pirates and Tampa Bay last year. Cincinnati will have a thunderous lineup with the addition of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to go with Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, Scooter Gennett and Scott Schebler, even if every Reds starting pitcher breaks down, as usually happens. Each team will play the other 19 times in the division, meaning that 76 games — nearly half the schedule — will be contested inside the division. With the projected balance of the clubs, there aren’t likely to be too many 14-5 or 13-6 head-to-head totals in season series among any of the teams. Although all the divisional teams have their strengths, they all have their potential question marks. Have the Cardinals improved their defense as much as they think they have with the addition of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt so that they can at least not lead the majors in errors made? How much will the Chicago Cubs get out of Yu Darvish, injured most of last season, or closer Brandon Morrow, coming off elbow surgery, to help a staff that is led by two 35-yearold starting pitchers in Jon Lester and Cole Hamels and a bullpen that doesn’t have a proven closer? Do the Brewers have enough starting pitching not to overwork one of the game’s deepest bullpens? Can the Pirates score enough runs to get a late lead to one of the league’s best closers in Felipe Vazquez? Can the Reds’ sketchy starting pitching hold the opposition down enough to get a late lead to one of the league’s best closers in Raisel Iglesias? The division has a potpourri of managerial stories. Pittsburgh’s Clint Hurdle, in his ninth season with the Pirates after eight in Colorado, never has won a division title, but he is under contract through 2021. Chicago’s Joe Maddon has taken the Cubs to the playoffs in the past four seasons and won a World Series. And he is dangling on the last year of a contract, unlikely to be renewed. Former Cardinals player and coach David Bell is starting out in Cincinnati with a three-year contract. Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell, who won the division with the Brewers last year, is signed through 2020. He started his managerial career in 2015 as an interim manager when Ron Roenicke was fired. This leads us to another former interim manager in Mike Shildt, who is signed by the Cardinals through 2020. As players, third baseman Bell hit 123 homers, four with the Cardinals, and batted .257. Infielder Counsell had 42 homers, two against the Cardinals, and batted .255. Hurdle had 32 homers, his last three with the Cardinals in 1986, and batted .259. So the lifetime batting averages were about the same. So, too, are the big-league batting averages of Maddon and Shildt. They both are at .000, Maddon never having reached the majors and Shildt never having played professional ball. Maddon, a catcher, did hit .267 in his minor league career, which didn’t get past Class A. Shildt was a utilityman at North Carolina-Asheville, where “I couldn’t hit. The numbers aren’t pretty but, thankfully, my alma mater has done me a real service by not being able to find any archives of my statistics. I’d like to think they’re protecting me a little. “But I’ll be the lowest one of the group,” said Shildt, smiling. “The lowest level — and the lowest average.”

Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Chacin ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jhoulys Chacin will be the Brewers’ sixth different opening day starter in the past six seasons when he opposes the Cardinals on March 28. Righthander Jimmy Nelson, rebounding from shoulder surgery which cost him all of last season, and reliever Jeremy Jeffress (shoulder) probably are not going to be on the roster when the Cardinals arrive. Buckle up. The Cardinals and Brewers play each other 10 times in April.

CHICAGO CUBS

Russell POST-DISPATCH

The Cubs are riding mostly with the same team that lost the division title and then a wild-card game in two punchless days last October at Wrigley Field. But they have an addition, of sorts, to their rotation. Yu Darvish missed much of last season with arm problems. They still have shortstop Addison Russell, but he is serving the remainder of a 40-game suspension for a domestic violence issue.

CARDINALS

DeJong CHRISTIAN GOODEN • cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Paul DeJong, who has 44 big-league homers in just 223 big-league games, will be the first Cardinal to start at shortstop for two consecutive openers since Jhonny Peralta in 2014-15. In the interim, Aledmys Diaz and Jedd Gyorko were the starters. The Cardinals’ three-season playoff drought is their longest since 1997-99. Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina were still in high school.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle (left) is in his ninth season with the Pirates.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Pirates have gone the longest in the Central without a divisional title and, in fact, there was no Central Division the last time they won a division, the NL East, in 1992. Jim Leyland was the manager then. Ted Simmons was the general manager. Skinny left fielder Barry Bonds was the star player but couldn’t throw out Atlanta’s Sid Bream, who scored the winning run in a “slide-off” Braves victory in Game 7 of the league championship series.

CINCINNATI REDS Yasiel Puig has been in the past two World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he sounds happy to be with the Reds. In a recent discourse with reporters, he said, “Nobody expects nothing from Cincinnati. But we’re going to be there. Everybody’s going to see Cincinnati playing good and playing better than the last few years. And, later people can talk. I like when nobody expects nothing from nobody.” If not good, the Reds, at least, have been consistent. In the past four seasons, they’ve gone 67-95, 68-94, 68-94 and 64-98. Puig ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com


03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

BASEBALL PREVIEW

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S13

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

S14 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S15

BIRD LAND BLOG Award-winning baseball writer Derrick Goold offers unique perspectives and insights on Cardinals baseball — from the big-league level to the lowest minor-league affiliate. stltoday. com/birdland

LIVE CARDINALS CHATS Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold fields questions and comments from Cardinals fans at 1 p.m. every Monday. When Goold is on another assignment, Hall of Fame baseball writer Rick Hummel steps in to host the chat. stltoday.com/sports

CARDS TALK Fans rant and rave all day long in our popular Cardinals forum. stltoday.com/cardstalk

RESULTS SO SMOOTH, YOUR CARPET WILL BE JEALOUS.

CARDINAL BEAT BLOG Lineups and pregame notes, postgame recaps and quotes from the clubhouse — all reported daily by baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel, and the Post-Dispatch sports staff. stltoday.com/ cardinalbeat

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Total payroll

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1. Boston

$228,398,860

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2. San Francisco

$205,665,348

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2. N.Y. Yankees

42,998

3. Cardinals

42,020

Source: sporttrac.com

4. Chicago Cubs

$194,259,933

5. Washington

$181,382,609

6. N.Y. Yankees

$179,598,151

4. San Francisco

38,965

7. L.A. Angels of Anaheim

$173,784,989

5. Chicago Cubs

38,794

8. Cardinals

$163,784,311

6. L.A. Angels

37,287

9. Houston

$163,524,216

7. Colorado

37,233

10. Seattle

$160,993,827

8. Houston

36,797

9. Boston

35,748

11. Toronto

$150,946,147

10. Milwaukee

35,196

12. N.Y. Mets

$150,187,987

13. Colorado

$143,968,544 $142,804,703

11. Atlanta

31,553

12. Washington

31,230

14. Cleveland

13. Toronto

28,707

15. Arizona

$141,724,597

14. Seattle

28,389

16. Texas

$140,625,018

15. Arizona

27,688

17. Detroit

$130,959,889

16. N.Y. Mets

27,469

18. Atlanta

$130,599,395

17. San Diego

26,772

18. Philadelphia

26,644

19. Kansas City

$129,944,821

19. Texas

26,014

20. Minnesota

20. Baltimore

$127,633,703

24,188

21. Minnesota

$115,509,520

21. Cleveland

23,786

22. Milwaukee

$108,982,016

22. Detroit

22,926

23. Philadelphia

$104,297,471

23. Kansas City

20,557

24. San Diego

$101,343,635

24. Cincinnati

20,116

25. Cincinnati

$100,305,768

25. Chicago White Sox

19,862

26. Oakland

19,427

26. Miami

$91,817,860

27. Pittsburgh

$91,025,861

27. Baltimore

19,311

28. Pittsburgh

18,316

28. Oakland

$80,315,288

29. Tampa Bay

14,259

29. Chicago White Sox

$71,839,808

30. Miami

10,014

30. Tampa Bay

$68,810,167

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

S16 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

PRE-SEASON – SPECIAL ORDER SALE

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S17

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

S18 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

CARDINALS 2018 FINAL AVERAGES *Includes players not on active roster the at end of the season. Pitching Gallegos Garcia Reyes Webb Hudson Poncedeleon Ross Mikolas Shreve Martinez Brebbia Wacha Flaherty Gant Norris Hicks Tuivailala Gomber Wainwright Leone Mayers Weaver Bowman Sherriff Cecil Gregerson Holland Lyonsv Gyorko Guilmet Team

W 0 0 0 0 4 0 2 18 1 8 3 8 8 7 3 3 3 6 2 1 2 7 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 88

L 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 4 2 6 3 2 9 6 6 4 3 2 4 2 1 11 2 0 1 0 2 0 0 1 74

ERA 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.76 2.63 2.73 2.73 2.83 3.07 3.11 3.20 3.20 3.34 3.47 3.59 3.59 3.70 4.44 4.46 4.50 4.70 4.95 6.26 6.35 6.89 7.10 7.92 8.64 9.00 22.50 3.85

G 2 1 1 18 26 11 9 32 20 33 45 15 28 26 64 73 31 29 8 29 50 30 22 5 40 17 32 27 1 2 162

GS 0 0 1 0 0 4 1 32 0 18 0 15 28 19 0 0 0 11 8 0 0 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 162

SV 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 2 0 0 0 28 6 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 43

IP 1.1 1.0 4.0 15.1 27.1 33.0 26.1 200.2 14.2 118.2 50.2 84.1 151.0 114.0 57.2 77.2 31.2 75.0 40.1 24.0 51.2 136.1 23.0 5.2 32.2 12.2 25.0 16.2 1.0 2.0 1455.1

H 1 1 3 16 19 24 20 186 14 100 43 68 108 91 51 59 35 81 41 27 59 150 29 8 39 14 34 24 2 7 1354

R 0 0 0 8 9 10 9 70 5 48 18 36 59 54 27 33 14 40 21 12 28 83 16 4 27 10 28 16 1 5 691

ER 0 0 0 3 8 10 8 63 5 41 18 30 56 44 23 31 13 37 20 12 27 75 16 4 25 10 22 16 1 5 623

HR 0 0 0 1 0 2 1 16 3 5 5 9 20 9 8 2 3 7 5 3 7 19 4 1 5 2 1 3 1 2 144

BB SO 0 2 0 0 2 2 6 11 18 19 13 31 10 15 29 146 9 16 60 117 16 60 36 71 59 182 57 95 21 67 45 70 11 26 32 67 18 40 8 26 15 49 54 121 11 26 2 3 25 19 6 12 22 22 8 19 0 0 0 3 593 1337

Batting Martinez Ozuna Munoz Bader Gyorko Molina Wisdom Carpenter O’Neill Wong Pham DeJong Garcia Pena Baron Voit Fowler Adams Garcia Kelly Sosa Team

AVG .305 .280 .276 .264 .262 .261 .260 .257 .254 .249 .248 .241 .221 .203 .200 .182 .180 .158 .118 .114 .000 .249

AB 534 582 293 379 351 459 50 564 130 353 351 436 181 133 5 11 289 57 17 35 2 5498

R 64 69 39 61 49 55 11 111 29 41 67 68 15 10 0 2 40 5 3 1 1 759

H 163 163 81 100 92 120 13 145 33 88 87 105 40 27 1 2 52 9 2 4 0 1369

2B 30 16 16 20 19 20 1 42 5 18 11 25 6 3 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 248

3B 0 2 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9

HR 17 23 8 12 11 20 4 36 9 9 14 19 3 2 0 1 8 3 0 0 0 205

RBI 83 88 42 37 47 74 10 81 23 38 41 68 15 8 0 3 31 9 1 3 0 725

BB 49 38 30 31 44 29 6 102 7 31 42 36 20 6 0 2 38 3 0 3 1 525

SO 104 110 71 125 77 66 19 158 57 60 97 123 37 43 2 4 75 18 7 7 1 1380

SB E 0 7 3 4 5 18 15 3 2 16 4 3 2 3 4 16 2 2 6 9 10 5 1 12 3 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 5 4 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 63 133

CARDINAL BEAT BLOG Lineups and pregame notes, postgame recaps and quotes from the clubhouse — all reported daily by baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel, and the Post-Dispatch sports staff. stltoday.com/cardinalbeat

WHO’S HOT, WHO’S NOT Columnist Jeff Gordon’s morning look at the players faring well — and those faltering — in games throughout the Cardinals’ system. stltoday.com/cardinals

IS THERE A SHELTER AGENT WORKING FOR YOU? Let’s Go Cards

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03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

BASEBALL PREVIEW

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S19


BASEBALL PREVIEW

S20 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

2018’S LONGEST HOME RUNS

WEEKDAY NEWSLETTERS

MLB statcast Batter, team Story, Trevor, COL Cordero, Franchy, SDP Baez, Javier, CHC Garcia, Avisail, CWS Ozuna, Marcell, STL Walker, Christian, ARI Reyes, Franmil, SDP Olson, Matt, OAK Harper, Bryce, WAS Gonzalez, Carlos, COL Gallo, Joey, TEX Conforto, Michael, NYM Desmond, Ian, COL Story, Trevor, COL Grichuk, Randal, TOR Story, Trevor, COL Judge, Aaron, NYY Iannetta, Chris, COL Shaw, Chris, SFG Stassi, Max, HOU Gallo, Joey, TEX Marte, Ketel, ARI Cruz, Nelson, SEA Story, Trevor, COL Arenado, Nolan, COL DeJong, Paul, STL Story, Trevor, COL Grichuk, Randal, TOR Cron, C.J., TBR Williamson, Mac, SFG Puig, Yasiel, LAD Cespedes, Yoenis, NYM Springer, George, HOU Sanchez, Gary, NYY Gonzalez, Carlos, COL Choi, Ji-Man, TBR Adams, Matt, TOR Sanchez, Gary, NYY Story, Trevor, COL Trout, Mike, LAA Story, Trevor, COL Desmond, Ian, COL Cordero, Franchy, SDP Solarte, Yangervis, TOR Stanton, Giancarlo, NYY O’Neill, Tyler, STL Chirinos, Robinson, TEX Cordero, Franchy, SDP Stanton, Giancarlo, NYY Olson, Matt, OAK

Distance (feet) 505 489 481 481 479 479 477 475 473 473 472 472 472 471 471 471 471 469 468 466 466 465 465 465 464 464 464 464 464 464 463 463 462 461 461 460 460 460 459 459 459 459 459 459 458 457 456 456 456 456

Exit Velocity (mph) 111.9 116.3 110.5 116.7 117.2 114.4 111.2 112.7 112.1 109.8 114.3 109.8 110.4 107.1 110.2 111.7 112 111.9 108.3 104.5 116.9 112.8 113.1 106.8 108.5 110 111 111.9 112.9 111.5 109.7 115.1 112 110.8 110.2 109.4 109.3 110.8 108.8 115 110.1 105.3 116.9 113.2 117.9 113.1 103 113.7 114.9 110.3

Angle (deg) 28.4 28.8 30.2 27.4 22.2 30.9 23.7 28.8 22.5 22.7 31 24.9 29.7 25.6 26.6 26 27.5 26.1 26.5 30.2 27.1 22.8 27.4 25.9 30.3 28.1 29.1 20.7 33.1 25.4 22.1 25.3 24.7 23.8 30.5 24.9 28.6 27.2 25.2 19.4 26.3 30.1 24.1 21.9 22.9 22.5 30.5 27.4 20.2 24.5

Height (feet) 109.6 122.1 116.6 108.4 82.8 121.6 83.5 101.5 77.3 84.9 116.1 81.1 110.1 85 106.1 84.5 109.1 98.3 90.2 106.2 102 79.5 109.4 91.7 104.5 101.3 99.7 64.5 129.3 88 77.6 97 83.1 85.4 112.3 93.6 105.4 105.1 81.6 69.7 85.7 110.8 84.3 82 79.6 80.2 99.5 102.4 68 82.5

Pitch spd. (mph) 92.2 89.6 86.1 85.9 91.7 87.5 90.1 76.7 86.4 95 93.9 90 81.2 90.6 92.2 91.8 92.1 92.3 85.8 88.4 86.7 76.5 76.5 93 92.4 93.8 94.9 91.5 89.4 89.1 78.4 84.3 80.7 88.1 94.1 94.3 97.4 94.8 91.6 94.8 87.3 90.3 86.2 92.1 88.2 94.6 93.5 88.8 74.4 91

Date 9/5/2018 4/20/2018 8/23/2018 4/3/2018 4/3/2018 5/1/2018 8/5/2018 5/31/2018 5/4/2018 6/5/2018 7/20/2018 8/27/2018 7/11/2018 9/27/2018 6/25/2018 9/13/2018 5/23/2018 9/28/2018 9/3/2018 6/9/2018 5/5/2018 8/4/2018 6/22/2018 9/26/2018 9/13/2018 4/12/2018 4/23/2018 9/21/2018 8/18/2018 4/23/2018 9/7/2018 4/24/2018 5/7/2018 5/4/2018 May-18 7/21/2018 3/31/2018 9/10/2018 6/9/2018 6/11/2018 9/5/2018 6/3/2018 4/28/2018 4/6/2018 4/4/2018 9/11/2018 7/20/2018 4/23/2018 6/4/2018 6/1/2018

Read the best of the P-D’s and STLtoday.com’s Cardinals coverage in the “Cardinals Update” sent to your email inbox. stltoday.com/newsletters

The 50th

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03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

BASEBALL PREVIEW

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S21

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

S22 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

4324 Weber Rd • St. Louis, MO 63123 314-631-2440 • Fax 314-631-6452 Hours: Mon. - Fri. 8-7 • Sat. 7-5 • Sun. 9-4

Meats & Catering - Freshly Prepared Food

We Accept Food Stamps

EVERYTHING FOR ALL YOUR GAME DAY NEEDS Jalapeno & Cheddar Bratwurst

4

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5

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5

$

99 LB.

Col. Stans Marinated Chicken Wings

3

$

99 LB.

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BBQ VARIETY JOE’S SPECIALTY DINNER PACK.......$180 PACK.......$150 PACK ........ $95 FOR 2 ....... $60 3 lbs. Center Cut Pork Steaks 2 lbs. (Approx. 2) T-Bone Steak 3½ lbs. Slab of BBQ Ribs 7 lbs. Cut Up Chickens (16 pcs.) 3 lbs. (Approx. 8) Center Cut Pork Chops 5 lbs. Lean Ground Chuck Patties 2½ lbs. Country Style Pork Ribs 2 lbs. Bavarian Bratwurst Sausage 2-8 oz. Avg. Rib Eye Steaks 2 lbs. Italian Saziza Sausage 2-8 oz. Avg. Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignons 2 lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts 2-8 oz. Avg. New York Strip Steaks

3 lbs. Boneless Chuck Roast 2-8 oz. Boneless Rib Eye Steaks 3 lbs. Boneless Sirloin Tip Roast 7 lbs. (Approx. 2) Cut Up Chicken 3 lbs. Center Cut Pork Steaks 1 lb. Sliced Country Slab Bacon 3 lbs. Sirloin Pork Chops 2 lbs. Center Cut Round Steak 2-8 oz. Boneless New York Strip Steaks 5 lbs. (1 lb. Pkgs.) Lean Ground Chuck 2-8 oz. Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignons 2 lbs. (Approx. 4) Pork Cutlets

4 Pcs. Bacon Cheddar Burgers 4 Pcs. Steak & Potato Kabobs 4 Pcs. Jalapeno Cheddar Burgers 4 Pcs. Philly Cheese Roll Ups 4 Pcs. Loaded Burgers (Cheddar, Onions, & Green Pepper) 4 Pcs. Chicken Cordon Bleu Balls 4 Pcs. Chicken Spedini 4 Pcs. Seasoned Pork Sizzlers 4 Pcs. Beef Spedini 4 Pcs. Seasoned Chicken Sizzlers 5 Pcs. BBQ Pork Steak Burgers 10 Pcs. Ozark Grillers

2-8 oz. Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignons 2-8 oz. New York Strip Steaks 2-12 oz. Center Cut Pork Steaks 2-6 oz. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts 2-8 oz. Bacon Wrapped Pork Fillets 2-10 oz. Top Sirloin Steaks

ECONOMY BALANCED DIET JOE’S BACKYARD BIG MIKE’S PACK.......$105 PACK.......$135 BBQ.......... $85 SPECIAL ...$120 2½ lbs. Country Sryle Pork Ribs 2 lbs. (Approx. 4) Pork Cutlets 2½ lbs. (Approx. 5) Sirloin Pork Chops 2 lbs. (1 lb. Pkgs.) Lean Ground Chuck 2 lbs. (1 lb. Pkgs.) Lean Beef Stew Meat 3 lbs. Boneless Chuck Roast 1 lb. Sliced Country Slab Bacon 3½ lbs. Cut Up Chicken (8 pc.) 3 lbs. Select Arm Roast 3 lbs. (Approx. 4) Center Cut Pork Steaks 1 lb. Pkg. Wieners 3 lbs. Bone-In Chicken Breasts

3 lbs. Boneless Chuck Roast

3 lbs. Pork Spare Ribs

5 lbs. Center Cut Pork Steaks

2lbs. (1 lb. Units) Lean Beef Stew Meat

2 lbs. Beer Bratwurst

5 lbs. Country Style Ribs

5 lbs. (1 lb. Units) Lean Ground Chuck

2lbs. 1/3 lb. Ground Chuck Patties

3½ lbs. Cut Up Chicken (8 pc.) 2 lbs. (Approx. 4) Pork Cutlets 2 lbs. (Approx. 5) Center Cut Pork Chops 2 lbs. (Approx. 4) Cube Steaks

2 lbs. Bacon & Cheddar Burgers

2 lbs. Cheddar Bratwurst

1 Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

2lbs. 4 to 1 New York Style Hot Dogs

3 lbs. (Approx. 4) Center Cut Pork Steaks

5 lbs. Rib Tips

4-8 oz. Avg. New York Strip Steaks

5 lbs. Chicken Leg Quarters

2 lb. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

4 lbs. Country Style Ribs

4 lbs. T-Bone Steaks

3 lbs. Slab Bacon

4 lbs. Porterhouse Steaks

3 lbs. Homemade Bulk Pork Sausage

4 lbs. Top Sirloin Steaks 4 - 8 oz. New York Strip Steaks 4 - 8 oz. Boneless Rib Eye Steaks 4 - 8 oz. Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignons 2 lbs. Center Cut Round Steaks 5 lbs. Ground Steak 3 lbs. Cube Steak

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5 lbs. Center Cut Pork Steaks

JUMBO FAMILY ALL STEAK JOHN’S CAMPING PACK...... $265 PACK...... $295 PACK ........ $70 4 lbs. Pork Cutlets 4 lbs. Stew Meat 8 - 1 lb. Packages Ground Chuck 4 lbs. Center Cut Rib Chops 4 lbs. Lean Cube Steak 2 lbs. Round Steak 3 lbs. Sirloin Steaks 7 lbs. Cut Up Chickens (16 pcs.) 4 lbs. Slab Bacon 4 lbs. Bulk Pork Sausage 3 lbs. Boneless Chuck Roast 3 lbs. Boneless Pork Loin Roast 4 lbs. Center Cut Pork Steaks 3 lbs. Fresh Meatloaf Mix

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Stuffed with Hot Pepper Cheese 3 lbs. Top Sirloin Steaks 4 lbs. Rib Tips 2 lbs. Roasted Pepper & Onion Chicken Burgers

Kenrick’s Original Ozark Grillers

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1½ lbs. Col. Stan’s Chicken Wings 1½ lb. Kenrick’s Jalapeno Cheddar Brats 1 lbs. Sliced Kenrick’s Ham 1 lb. Sliced Honeysuckle Turkey Breast 1 lbs. Sliced American Cheese 4 Pcs. Loaded Burgers (Cheddar, Onions, & Green Pepper)

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03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

BASEBALL PREVIEW

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S23

Scalloped Dynasty

Mention this ad to receive $5 store credit on your next visit.

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S24 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

BASEBALL PREVIEW

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

• Independent Living • Assisted Living • Memory Care

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S25

CARDINALS 2019 SCHEDULE

CHRISTIAN GOODEN • cgooden@post-dispatch.com

MARCH/APRIL Sun.

Mon.

Tue.

Wed.

Thu.

Home

Away

Fri.

Sat.

MAY Sun.

28

FS 29 FS 30 FS Mil Mil Mil 6:10 7:10 1:10

4

FS SD 3:15

Mon.

FS 10 FS 11 FS Pit Pit Pit 1:15 7:15 6:45

2

FS Chi 1:15

3

FS 13 Pit 1:15

14

FS 15 FS 16 FS 17 FS Tex Atl Atl Atl 7:05 6:20 6:20 6:20

FS Tex 3:05

9

FS Chi 1:20

10

FS 20 Tex 2:05

21

16

FS NYM 12:10

17

FS 18 FS Mia Mia 7:15 7:15

23

FS LAA 1:15

24

25

19 FSM 20 FS NYM NYM 1:15 7:15

19

FS 24 FS 25 Mil Mil 12:15 6:45

26 FS 27 FS Cin Cin 1:15 7:15

26 E2 27 Atl 6:05

28 FS 29 FS Was Cin 6:05 1:15

23

Mon.

Tue.

1

2

28 FS Phi 6:05

29 FS Phi 6:05

Thu.

Home

Away

18

23

F 24 FS 25 Atl Atl 6:15 7:15

30 FS Phi 12:05

31

Fri.

Sat.

AUGUST Sun.

Mon.

Tue.

Wed.

FS 6 FS FS 4 FS 5 FS 3 SF SF Sea Sea Sea 9:05 9:15 3:10 9:10 9:10

FS 8 SF 3:05

14

FS 15 FS 16 FS Pit Pit AZ 7:15 7:15 1:15

21

FS 22 FS 23 FS Pit Pit Cin 6:05 6:05 12:10 29

FS 22 FS KC KC 12:15 7:15

Thu.

Fri.

Sat.

FS Chi 7:15

4

FS 5 Cin 7:15

19

FS 20 FS Mia Mia 6:15 7:15

8 F/FS Chi 6:15 15 NYM 6:10

NYM 6:10

NYM 6:10

Mia 6:10

Mia 6:10

14

13

12

11 Mia 6:10

FS FS 6 FS 7 Chi Cin Cin 1:20 12:15 7:15

21

F Chi 6:15

FS LAA 7:15

22

FS LAA 1:15

28 FS 29 FS SD SD 9:10 9:10

FS 26 FS 27 Oak Oak 6:15 7:15

30 FS SD 3:10

Wed.

7

28 FS Hou 1:15

E 6 FS Phi Chi 7:05 6:05

Wed.

Away 1

30 FS Was 6:05

JULY Sun.

Tue.

9

14 E/FS 15 FS 16 FS 17 FS 18 Mil Mil Mil *Cin 12:40 6:40 6:40 3:10 FS 22 FS Mil NYM 6:45 1:15

Mon.

FS 8 FS Phi Phi 12:15 6:45

12

21

Sun.

7

FS *Cin 6:10

FS 8 FS 9 FS 10 FS 11 FS 12 LAD LAD LAD LAD SD 12:15 6:45 6:45 6:45 1:15

5

Sat.

3

Home

FS 4FS/FS1 Chi Chi TBD 1:20

FS Was 3:05

13

7

3

Fri.

JUNE

2

5

2

Thu.

Away

FS Was 6:05

FS SD 1:15

FS 1 E/FS Pit Mil 12:05 1:10

Wed. 1

6

FS Pit 6:05

31

Tue.

Home

10 9 All-Star Game 17

18

1

FS AZ 6:15

4

FS 8 FS 6 FS 7 FS 5 LAD LAD LAD Oak 2:10 9:10 9:10 3:07

FS 19 FS 20 FS Cin Cin Cin 6:10 6:10 6:10

11

FS 12 Pit 1:15

27F1/FS Hou 6:15

18

11

FS Pit 12:15

Thu.

12

24 FS 25 FS Pit Pit 11:35 6:05

FS AZ 7:15

26 FS Hou 7:15

30 FS 31 FS Cubs Cubs 7:15 7:15

13

25

13

FS 14 FS KC KC 7:15 7:15

15

FS Chi 6:15

SEPT.

Home

Away

Fri.

Sat.

2

3

FS Oak 8:07

1

9

FS 10 FS Pit Pit 6:15 7:15

8

FS 16 FS 17 FS Cin Cin Cin 6:10 6:10 6:10

FS 19 FS 20 FS 21 FS 22 FS 23 FS 24F1/FS Col Col Col Mil Mil Mil Cin 6:15 7:15 6:45 6:45 6:45 6:45 12:10 FS 26 FS Mil Col 6:40 1:15

27

FS 28 FS 29 Mil Mil 1:10 6:40

30 FS 31 FS Cin Cin 6:15 7:15

Sun.

Mon.

FS 2 Cin 1:15 FS Pit 12:35

FS SF 1:15

Tue. 3

FS 4 FS SF SF 6:45 6:45

FS Chi 1:20

23

29 FS Chi 2:15

30

Thu. 5

Away

Fri.

Sat.

FS 6 FS Pit SF 6:05 12:15

18

FS 19 FS Chi Was 7:05 12:15

FS 24 FS 25 FS 26 AZ AZ AZ 2:40 8:40 8:40

20 FS Chi 1:20 27

FS Chi 7:15

All game times are St. Louis times and may be subject to change. • TV: ESPN (E), ESPN2 (E2), FSM (FS), Fox Sports 1 (FS1), F (Fox) • * Game played in Monterrey, Mexico

Please join us for an afternoon

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7

FS Pit 6:05

10 FS 11 FS 12 FS 13 FS 14 FS Mil Mil Col Col Col 6:15 7:15 2:10 7:40 7:40

9

15 TBD 16 FS 17 FS Was Was Mil 6:45 6:45 1:15 22

Wed.

Home

21

FS Chi 1:20

28 TBD Chi 6:15


BASEBALL PREVIEW

S26 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

SP Birds have surplus of starters but will probably need them all

CHRISTIAN GOODEN P-D

Mikolas

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS BY RICK HUMMEL • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

EXPECTATION

MIKOLAS’ 2018 STATS

The continued weakness in Carlos Martinez’s right shoulder will keep him out of the rotation at the start of the season. Martinez insists he still wants to be a starter, but the staff can’t forget what a strong closer he was late last season when his shoulder didn’t allow him to start anymore but he could air it out for one inning. The Cardinals will enter the season with Miles Mikolas (signed to a four-year, $68 million extension), Jack Flaherty and Michael Wacha firmly in place. And that goes, too, for 37-year-old veteran Adam Wainwright, who bet on himself, taking a pay cut from $19.5 million to $2 million to show the Cardinals he still could start. He said his arm felt better in spring training than it had had for a couple of years, so he will get a chance at the beginning of the season to show that. The Cardinals still have four of the five starting pitchers they counted on at the beginning of this past season and the five who were in Memphis’ rotation in April. This does not include Alex Reyes, who got hurt again after four innings in his lone appearance for the Cardinals. He may well wind up in the rotation later this year but he won’t be there at the start of the season. Instead he is being groomed as a reliever. That left the fifth starter job to be contested between John Gant, who made 19 starts in 26 appearances for the Cardinals last year and Dakota Hudson, who made all 26 of his appearances in the bullpen after he won 13 games as a starter in the Pacific Coast League. If Gant is not in the rotation, he will be the long man in the bullpen. As for Austin Gomber and Daniel Ponce de Leon, they probably will be sent to Memphis to work as starters, with an eye toward their being early recalls if something else would happen to the rotation.

18-4 RECORD 2.83 ERA

200.2 IP 146 Ks

29 WALKS

186 HITS ALLOWED

OTHER PROJECTED STARTERS’ 2018 STATS

Flaherty Wacha

Gant

LIKELY REALITY Starting pitchers go down with injury on every team, and the Cardinals probably will employ eight or nine starters at a minimum, with young righthander Jake Woodford, impressive in spring training, possibly coming up from Memphis during the season, too. Unless Gomber makes it, the rotation won’t have a lefthanded starter, which was the case before last July, when Gomber was called up. That could be a problem in the National League Central, where every team has several dangerous lefthanded hitters, although manager Mike Shildt and pitching coach Mike Maddux think their rightanded starters are capable of retiring both lefthanded and righthanded hitters. If Wainwright makes 25 or more starts, which isn’t a guarantee at his age, the decision to bring him back was the right one. Much of his contract will hinge on how many appearances he makes. “The risk standpoint on our end was pretty low,” said Cards executive JohnMozeliak. Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com

Wainwright

Hudson

Player IP Flaherty 151 Wacha 84.1 Wainwright 40.1 Hudson 27.1 Gant 181.1

Rec 8-9 8-2 2-4 4-1 7-6

ERA Ks BB HA 3.34 182 59 108 3.20 71 36 68 4.46 40 18 41 2.63 19 18 19 3.47 95 57 91

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S27

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

S28 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

RP More candidates than jobs will leave some relievers in minors

CHRISTIAN GOODEN P-D

STILL A BIT UNSETTLED

Miller

BY RICK HUMMEL • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

EXPECTATION There probably won’t be a true closer at the beginning of the season. Young Jordan Hicks has the 100 mph-plus fastball and emerging slider. Lefthander Andrew Miller, signed to a two-year, free-agent deal after considerable success with the New York Yankees and, notably, Cleveland, has a more than representative fastball and wicked slider. Who’s ahead of those two will be an issue, and another issue is how many relievers the Cardinals plan to carry. Manager Mike Shildt and pitching coach Mike Maddux seemed committed to seven, rather than eight, near the end of camp. With lefthander Brett Cecil perhaps having a nerve problem in his left arm, he will not start the season with the club, leaving Chasen Shreve as the only lefthander other than Miller in the bullpen. Shreve had difficulty retiring lefthanded hitters (.275 with five homers) last year. He also gave up 11 homers overall in 52 2/3 innings between the New York Yankees and the Cardinals. But he has shown swing-and-miss stuff. Fifty-seven of his 62 strikeouts last year came on swinging strike threes. Excluding normal starter Carlos Martinez, who will open the season as a reliever once he comes off the injured list, there were five leading candidates for the four other righthanded relief jobs. That includes John Gant and Alex Reyes, who will open the season as a reliever but ultimately is targeted to start. Dominic Leone had a strong spring after missing much of last season with a mysterious nerve ailment in his right arm. Mike Mayers worked in 50 games last year and got his velocity up to 100 on occasion but wasn’t throwing at that level this spring as he tried to work on secondary offerings. He is out of options. The other candidate is John Brebbia, who surely will be here for much of the season although, with an option available, perhaps not at the beginning.

LIKELY REALITY

MILLER’S 2018 STATS (with Cleveland) 2-4 RECORD 4.24 ERA 2 SAVES 34 IP 45 Ks

16 WALKS

31 HITS ALLOWED

BULLPEN 2017 STATS Cecil

Player Cecil Shreve* Martinez Gant Reyes Leone Mayers Gregerson Brebbia

IP 32.2 52.2 118.2 181.1 4 24 51.2 12.2 50.2

Rec 1-1 3-4 8-6 7-6 0-0 1-2 2-1 0-0 3-3

ERA Ks BB HA 6.89 19 25 39 3.93 62 27 53 3.11 117 60 100 3.47 95 57 91 0.00 2 2 3 4.50 26 8 27 4.70 49 15 59 7.11 12 6 14 3.20 60 16 43

At some point, the Cardinals will have to find out about Cecil and, if they have to, swallow the final two years of his $30.5 million, four-year contract. There is no guarantee when Cecil, who was struggling anyway, will return to action as the medical staff tries to sort out the nerve problem. The same, to a lesser degree, goes for righthander Luke Gregerson, signed to a two-year deal before last season. Gregerson appeared in only 17 games last year, troubled by various injuries, and he got a late start this spring. Gregerson, though he will start the season on the injured list, was throwing well enough late in the spring that he probably will get that chance. Somewhere. Some time. Hard-throwing righthander Ryan Helsley, whose 2018 minor-league season was cut short by shoulder problems, will be conditioned as a starter at Class AAA Memphis, but he could be another 100 mph reliever, as Hicks was during his rookie season. Austin Gomber, who is likely to start at Memphis, also could be a lefthander who could pitch in several different bullpen roles. Righthander Chris Beck, who has 102 relief appearances in the majors for the New York Mets and Chicago White Sox, made a strong case for a job in the spring and could be summoned from Memphis. And, what if Martinez is successful as a reliever, as he was last year when he had five saves in the final few weeks? He could even be the closer. Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com

Gregerson

* Cardinals and Yankees combined stats

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S29

CL Hicks figures to be a closer, but Cardinals don’t need to rush him

CHRISTIAN GOODEN P-D

FLEXIBLE APPROACH

Hicks

BY RICK HUMMEL • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

EXPECTATION Whenever the likes of Christian Yelich or Anthony Rizzo or Joey Votto or Gregory Polanco or Scooter Gennett or Travis Shaw or Kyle Schwarber or Scott Schebler come to the plate, lefthander Andrew Miller will be facing them. If that happens to be the eighth inning, then he might be that day’s setup man. Or he might pitch two innings. More likely, he would hand it off to flame-throwing Jordan Hicks in the ninth. But, if those aforementioned lefthandedhitting Cardinals busters from National League Central Division opponents are hitting in the ninth inning, then Miller will be pitching that inning and become that day’s closer, at least until young Hicks shows he’s ready for that duty. It seems the Cardinals have always had a lockdown closer. From Al Hrabosky to Bruce Sutter to Todd Worrell to Lee Smith to Tom Henke to Dennis Eckersley to Jason Isringhausen to Adam Wainwright (one month) to Jason Motte to Trevor Rosenthal. A long shot here could be righthander Carlos Martinez, who knocked off five saves late last season when his troublesome right shoulder wouldn’t allow him to pitch more than a couple of innings at the time. Martinez thoroughly seemed to enjoy celebrating at the mound with his teammates after a save rather than the few times he would on the field in the ninth inning as a starter. But Martinez, even if he is in the bullpen at the start of this season, probably wouldn’t be the closer then because he wouldn’t be built up enough for it. Could Hicks do it at age 22? He certainly has the fastball — he probably is the hardest thrower the game ever has seen. Despite his youth and relative inexperience, he has the disposition needed to shake off bad games. His swing-and-miss slider is becoming a weapon. But do the Cardinals want to put the strain of being a closer on him? At some time this season, they will do it.

HICKS’ 2018 STATS 6 SAVES 13 SAVE OPPORTUNITIES 3-4 RECORD

3.59 ERA 77.2 IP

70 Ks

45 WALKS

59 HITS ALLOWED

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LIKELY REALITY The Cardinals could have two relievers with double-figure saves in Miller and Hicks. Or three with more than 10 saves if Martinez were to remain in the bullpen for much of the season. Mike Shildt may have more options than he might have envisioned. But the best way the bullpen can be a success is the 76 games the club has against its four Central Division rivals, whose lefthanded hitters must be kept at bay however possible. This is why Miller is here. In modern baseball, the emphasis on a closer pitching only the ninth inning is evolving toward using your best pitcher in whatever the most stressful situation might be. That’s where Miller comes in. You might see him anywhere from the sixth to the ninth, although more realistically the seventh through the ninth. And once Alex Reyes gets the hang of relieving, don’t be surprised to see him in the eighth, or maybe even the ninth. Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com

Miller


BASEBALL PREVIEW

S30 â&#x20AC;˘ ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 â&#x20AC;˘ SUNDAY â&#x20AC;˘ 03.24.2019

OF Redbirds have to hope for the best at all three positions

CHRISTIAN GOODEN P-D

IF ALL GOES WELL ...

Ozuna

BY RICK HUMMEL â&#x20AC;˘ St. Louis Post-Dispatch

EXPECTATION

LIKELY REALITY

OZUNAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S 2018 STATS

The Cardinals are presuming many things here. For one, they are thinking Marcell Ozunaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arm will be better than last year, when baserunners took liberties with him. It appeared this spring that it was somewhat better. They are thinking that Harrison Bader will hit enough to be the regular center fielder, where he was a surprising standout defensively last year. And they are thinking that Dexter Fowler is not over the hill at age 33. If Fowler is not playing for his professional life, he is playing to remain with the Cardinals. After a horrid, injury-marked season in 2018 when he hit .180 with a .576 OPS, the switchhitting veteran reported to camp intent on proving doubters wrong. He feels he wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t treated with respect by his previous manager or a large segment of the fans last season. And a player, if good enough, can take that perceived slight and turn it into helpful motivation. This spring the ball was jumping off Fowlerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bat, compared to last year, and he appeared more comfortable in right field, which he never had played until last year. Ozuna was a Gold Glover in left field two seasons ago, but that was before his long ailing right shoulder (he didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say much about it until August 2018) finally did him in. He underwent an offseason procedure that was reported to have gone well, but Ozunaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arm was weak when he got to camp. But he was playing pain-free at the end of the spring, making accurate and reasonably strong throws. At least they were better than the ones he unleashed for much of last season. In theory, a sound shoulder also should help Ozuna at bat. After he went on the disabled list last August to rest it, he banged seven home runs and drove in 19 runs in September. Bader has the pluses of power and speed, which he displayed with 12 homers and 15 steals in 18 attempts, but the hitting coaches have worked intently in trying to cut down his strikeout rate.

Unless Fowler shows he can hit lefthanded pitching better than last year, when he had to surge to get to .161 against them, he will share time with Tyler Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neill, the 23-year-old who slugged .500 last year but fanned 57 times in 130 at-bats and walked only seven times. Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neill hit five spring homers and was drawing more walks but still striking out a ton, as in 15 times in his first 47 at-bats. Manager Mike Shildt loves Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neillâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s skill set but says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Prove you can do it on a consistent basis.â&#x20AC;? Then there is the Cardinalsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; new secret weapon, Jose Martinez, who was not so secret last year when he led the club in hitting at .305 and was second in RBIs at 83. Martinez was found to be wanting at first base but played creditably in right field and could be seen on occasion there or in left field, where Ozuna may not be able to play every day. Martinez also is the No. 2 career pinch hitter for average (50 plate appearances) at .408. Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neill could play center field if Bader needed a day off, although he appears average at that position. Lane Thomas will be a candidate to be brought up later this season, but he was set back this spring by a rib-cage strain. Utiltymen Yairo Munoz and Drew Robinson both can play outfield acceptably. Randy Arozarena, a non-roster outfielder who had a big spring, suffered a broken right hand when hit by a pitch and will be out a month or two at Memphis.

.280 AVERAGE 110 Ks

88 RBI 16 DOUBLES

163 HITS 38 WALKS

2 TRIPLES 3 STEALS 23 HRs

FOWLERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S 2018 STATS .180 AVERAGE 75 Ks

31 RBI 10 DOUBLES

52 HITS 38 WALKS

0 TRIPLES 5 STEALS 8 HRs

BADERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S 2018 STATS .264 AVERAGE 125 Ks

37 RBI 20 DOUBLES

100 HITS 31 WALKS

2 TRIPLES 15 STEALS

Bader

Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S31

1B Goldschmidt gives Cards more power, much better fielding

CHRISTIAN GOODEN P-D

UPGRADE PERSONIFIED BY RICK HUMMEL • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

EXPECTATION Mike Shildt hopes Paul Goldschmidt can play upward of 150 games at first base. That seems a legitimate expectation, given that Goldschmidt has missed just 21 games total in the last four years, with a low of 155 games played two seasons ago. Shildt also knows he has a proven No. 3, No. 4 or even No. 2 hitter, likely to hit 30 homers and drive in 100, and a Gold Glove first baseman. Goldschmidt usually has hit third or fourth, but what he did batting second for Arizona last year was eye-catching. In 47 games, he blasted 17 homers, drove in 40 runs and hit .349 with an OBP of 1.104. Still, he probably will start the season batting third. The Cardinals surely expect to cut their major-league-leading error total dramatically with Goldschmidt in the infield, tracking down errant throws besides covering more ground to his right than did last year’s group of first basemen. That corps was the worst defensively at the bag that several longtime observers could remember. At bat, Goldschmidt gives the Cardinals that third power source, joining Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna, and those three figure to hit in the top four for most, if not all, of the season. The Cardinals are all in on 2019, thus their non-hesitation in trading for Goldschmidt as he entered the final year of his contract. The club’s expectation was that they could get Goldschmidt to consider a long-term deal rather than test free agency, and that happened on Thursday when he agreed to a new five-year deal with the team. Goldschmidt will strike out. He averages 157 per season. But he also walks, averaging 97 a year. If he hit second behind Carpenter, the game well could start with two homers. Or two walks. His range, combined with that of second baseman Kolten Wong, should render to a minimum the number of balls that skid into right field for a Cardinals pitching staff that likes to pitch to contact.

Goldschmidt

GOLDSCHMIDT’S 2018 STATS (with Diamondbacks) .290 AVERAGE 83 RBI

173 Ks 35 DOUBLES

5 TRIPLES 7 STEALS

172 HITS 90 WALKS 33 HRs

LIKELY REALITY Goldschmidt will find St. Louis very much to his liking and find that Busch Stadium is a fair park, which could reduce his homerun totals, but only slightly. He has hit four there in 86 at-bats and batted .302 as a member of the Diamondbacks. Should there be an injury to Goldschmidt, the Cardinals’ Plan B might be to go back to Carpenter, who was the starter there much of last season. Carpenter improved a bit defensively at the bag but still had trouble handling throws, and his range was modest. His weak arm rarely was a factor there. Jose Martinez also started for long stretches at first base, and while the mind was willing, the flesh wasn’t. He just was too awkward around the bag, but his bat still played. If and when he is healthy, veteran Jedd Gyorko might be the most reliable glove to go to first, but that probably would be on a short-term basis, too. Longtime minor league Rangel Ravelo, the Cardinals’ best player for much of spring training, opened eyes with his play around the bag and what Shildt called his “professional” bat, hitting well over .300 for the spring. He doesn’t profile as a power-hitting first baseman, but he has shown everywhere that he can hit for average. He might be the one to take the job if Goldschmidt were out for a long period of time, which his career path doesn’t suggest will happen. Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com

Carpenter


BASEBALL PREVIEW

S32 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S33

CARDINALS’ PROJECTED 25-MAN ROSTER PHOTOS BY XXXX • XXXX

HARRISON BADER • CF • 48

MATT CARPENTER • 3B • 13

PAUL DEJONG • SS • 12

JACK FLAHERTY • RHP • 22

DEXTER FOWLER • RF • 25

JOHN GANT • RHP • 53

PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT • 1B • 46

JORDAN HICKS • RHP • 49

DAKOTA HUDSON • RHP • 43

DOMINIC LEONE • RHP • 56

Molina was not available for this season’s photo day. Image is from 2013. P-D

JOSE MARTINEZ • OF • 38

MIKE MAYERS • RHP • 59

MILES MIKOLAS • RHP • 39

ANDREW MILLER • LHP • 21

YADIER MOLINA • C • 4

YAIRO MUNOZ • UT • 34

TYLER O’NEILL • OF • 41

MARCELL OZUNA • LF • 23

ALEX REYES • RHP • 29

DREW ROBINSON • UT • 33

Cardinals signed Wieters after this season’s photo day. AP

CHASEN SHREVE • LHP • 40

MICHAEL WACHA • RHP • 52

ADAM WAINWRIGHT • RHP • 50

MATT WIETERS • C • 32

PLAYERS ON THE INJURED LIST: LUKE GREGERSON (RHP), BRETT CECIL (LHP), CARLOS MARTINEZ (RHP), JEDD GYORKO (UT)

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

S34 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

2B Wong’s defense is great, and he hit well in second half last year

CHRISTIAN GOODEN P-D

PLEASE, NO INJURIES

Wong

BY RICK HUMMEL • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

EXPECTATION There is no question that Kolten Wong, starting his sixth season, has reached elite status as a defender after some erratic play earlier in his career. It used to be that Wong would make the spectacular play and not the routine one, but he makes them all now. The question is, can he stay on the field? After missing 54 games because of injury in 2017, he didn’t play in 35 games last year and was on the disabled list in late August and early September with a hamstring strain. He has to be on the field for 140 or more games because the Cardinals don’t have a strong defender to replace Wong, who led major league second basemen in ultimate zone rating, defensive runs against average and defensive runs saved. At age 28, he should be in his defensive prime and should continue to be golden in the field, even though he never has won a Gold Glove. With Paul Goldschmidt, a three-time Gold Glover at first, Wong surmised that very few ground balls should be getting between those two and that Goldschmidt would save the odd, off-target throw from Wong. The 5-foot-7 Wong also turns the double play well with quick feet and a strong arm. Offensively, Wong was a second-half player last year. He hit .317 after the All-Star break, including .362 in August, fourth in the National League, compared to .213 in the first half. Wong does not strike out a lot, having just 60 in 353 at-bats last year, but he walked only 31 times (and was hit by pitch 14 times). Hitting seventh or eighth, as he probably will be when the season starts, Wong, coupled with speedy Harrison Bader, can bring a different dimension to the Cardinals’ offense than the power-laden top half. Bader and Wong both have base-stealing speed, although Bader did more with it last year than did Wong, who had six steals compared to Bader’s 15.

WONG’S 2018 STATS .249 AVERAGE 38 RBI

60 Ks 18 DOUBLES

2 TRIPLES 6 STEALS

88 HITS 31 WALKS 9 HRs

LIKELY REALITY Wong appeared in excellent shape in the spring and should finally reach All-Star consideration, although in a different vein than many, including Wong, had imagined. When he was signed, it was mostly because of his offense, with his defense an emerging commodity. Hitting eighth, he may have to take more walks than he is accustomed to, but he can turn some of those into doubles if he can show more confidence in his base-stealing ability. He used to have that boldness. He swiped 20 and 15 in his first two seasons but has had seven, eight and six since, though part of that reluctance may have been because of injury. Wong is an energetic player, and that is likely to rub off on his teammates, especially if he is on the field nearly every day. Although manager Mike Shildt might like to use power-hitting Jedd Gyorko, a righthanded batsman, against lefthanded pitching, don’t look for Wong to be platooned all that much. He is a .250 hitter against lefthanders and .256 against righthanders. If Wong would make more use of the bunt, those numbers could rise, and he showed an aptitude to work on that in spring games. Yairo Munoz and Drew Robinson also could see time at second, but the Cardinals want Wong out there every day. He should be able at least to go past 130 games, a figure he has surpassed only once. He played 150 games in 2015 and hit 11 homers to go with 61 RBIs. Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com

3B Carpenter brings power, stronger arm into the 2019 season

Munoz

CHRISTIAN GOODEN P-D

STAYING AT LEADOFF BY RICK HUMMEL • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

EXPECTATION Matt Carpenter isn’t exactly firing rockets to first base yet, but his throws to first no longer require a fair-catch signal as they did last year. His throwing arm is as strong as it’s been in years — he thinks it’s average for a third baseman — and Carpenter is hopeful it will stay that way, with him not having to shift to either first base or second base during the season. His range is adequate and he comes in on the ball well. He won’t gun down a lot of runners from behind the bag, but he should be able to make the routine plays, with new first baseman Paul Goldschmidt liable to save off-line throws along the way. The debate largely has ended on where Carpenter should hit. He could hit second or third, but he will stay in the leadoff spot because of his .377 lifetime on-base percentage, including .374 last year. Manager Mike Shildt likes the fact that Carpenter also can open a game with a home run, as he did eight times last year. The Cardinals don’t expect this leadoff man to contribute too much to the running game. Carpenter has just 19 steals to go with 16 caught stealings in his career, but today’s game doesn’t feature many of the old-style, speedy leadoff men. The Cardinals are well-stocked at third base, with Jedd Gyorko having been a regular there for much of the past season. Gyorko has had late-season leg injuries, he had calf trouble this spring and probably isn’t able to play more than 130 games. But, if healthy, he is an excellent fill-in both defensively with his strong arm and sure hands, plus the fact he has averaged 20 homers a season in his first three years with the Cardinals. He also is one of their top batsmen against lefthanded pitching and could give Carpenter a day off against certain southpaws. Utilitymen Yairo Munoz, a righthanded batter, and lefthanded-hitting Drew Robinson also can play third and provide offense, with passable defense.

Carpenter

CARPENTER’S 2018 STATS .257 AVERAGE 81 RBI

158 Ks 42 DOUBLES

0 TRIPLES 4 STEALS

145 HITS 102 WALKS 36 HRs

LIKELY REALITY Carpenter, who had a back issue late in the spring, is in the final year of his contract with the Cardinals, although the club has an $18.5 million option on him for 2020 and he would like to stay. Carpenter is slotted as the regular third baseman, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him turn up at other positions such as second or first in case of injury. In any event, you can mark Carpenter down for 154 or more games. Four times he has played that many or more in his Cardinals career, including 156 last year. We are also likely to see a more consistent Carpenter this season, not the one who fluctuated wildly between a .140 mark in May and hitting a major-league-leading 11 homers in July, with more than half of those in one series in Wrigley Field. Although he is not fast, Carpenter also does not hit many ground balls and it is probable he will extend his streak of not grounding into a double play. He grounded into none last year — the first time in 21 years that somebody had had at least 550 at-bats and not done that — and he hasn’t had a GIDP since Sept. 4, 2017. Teams routinely shift on Carpenter, but he adjusted sometimes last year and poked eight bunt singles to the left side, tying for the league lead. So, he does do that like an old-time leadoff man. Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com

Gyorko


BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S35

SS Hard work helps DeJong improve in the field and at bat

CHRISTIAN GOODEN P-D

A STUDENT OF THE GAME BY RICK HUMMEL • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

EXPECTATION Paul DeJong has progressed from someone who was thought to be passing through the position on his way to a career at third base to someone who could man this spot for the next four or five years for the Cardinals. He has worked hard under longtime infield coach Jose Oquendo to improve his range and ability to backhand the ball in the hole. Oquendo, now a minorleague instructor, said this spring he thought the 25-year-old DeJong could be a Gold Glove candidate. Should he avoid injury — he missed 45 games last year with a left hand fracture from being hit by a pitch — DeJong should take a run at 30 homers. He has had 25 and then 19 while not playing more than 115 games for the Cardinals in his first two seasons. His strike-zone discipline could use some work, and that was addressed this spring by the new hitting coaches, Jeff Albert and Mark Budaska, and DeJong should be able to draw more walks than the 21 and 36 he had the previous two seasons to where he could keep his OBP in the high .300s. At worst, he might be able to avoid putting himself so often behind in the count where he has to swing at something off the plate trying to stay alive. He has fanned 247 times in 853 career at-bats, which is a little high, even for a power hitter. DeJong should hit better than .241, but when he’s batting in the middle of the lineup as he will be, the Cardinals want extra-base damage and runs batted in. He has proven to be a much better hitter with men in scoring position than when the bases are empty. The Illinois State graduate is a sharp, eager student, and his desire to improve is noteworthy. He is a bit under the radar now with the acquisition of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and the focus on whether Marcell Ozuna’s shoulder can allow him to be a masher again, which might suit DeJong well.

DEJONG’S 2018 STATS .241 AVERAGE 68 RBI

123 Ks 25 DOUBLES

1 TRIPLE 1 STEAL

105 HITS 36 WALKS 19 HRs

LIKELY REALITY

DeJong

Counting his time in Memphis in 2017, DeJong appeared in 156 games. That might be a stretch in the hot, humid summers in St. Louis, but he ought to be able to play 145-150. The Cardinals spent much of the spring looking for potential fill-ins for DeJong when he needs a day off. Yairo Munoz provides offense, but shortstop may not be his best defensive position. The same could be said for lefthanded-hitting Drew Robinson. Switchhitting Tommy Edman, ticketed for Memphis, can play short and second but needs more seasoning at Triple-A. Veteran third baseman Jedd Gyorko could play short for several days, but Edmundo Sosa made strides this spring, hitting for power and playing not only shortstop but other infield spots. Sosa, 23, played 56 games last year at Class AAA Memphis, where he will start this season. He hit .262 there following a .276 half-season at Class AA Springfield. He might be the next shortstop if DeJong went down for a while. Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com

Robinson

C Relentless Molina is determined to defy age, carry a heavy load

CHRISTIAN GOODEN P-D

NO REASON TO SLOW UP

Molina

BY RICK HUMMEL • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

EXPECTATION Whatever expectations the Cardinals have for him, Yadier Molina’s are even higher. Despite a painful injury in his groin area that cost him several weeks in 2018, he managed, at age 36, to hit the second-most homers of his career at 20 and record his second-highest RBI total at 74. To his ninth All-Star Game selection, Molina added his ninth Gold Glove. Molina is starting the second year of a three-year deal, and he wants to be a regular catcher for those three years, which would take him to age 38 and potential retirement, except that Molina allowed this winter that he might like to play one more year after that contract, but only with the Cardinals. His workload, so heavy during the season, was lighter this spring as he recovered from offseason knee surgery. If Molina had his way, he would catch 160 games. Manager Mike Shildt would like to hold him to 140 or even fewer, preferring that he be fresh for the stretch drive. But Molina often seems to hit with more power in the second half of the season. Molina batted .365 after the All-Star break in 2016 and had nine of his 18 home runs and 42 of his 82 RBIs after the break in 2017, even though he played in 14 fewer games than in the first half. Last year, however, Molina batted only .249 with seven homers in the second half after having 13 homers with a .274 mark in the first half. After years of catching runners at higher than a 40 percent clip, Molina has been under 40 percent for the last three seasons, although only 39 runners tried to test him last year, with 12 caught for a 31 percent rating. With some of the younger Cardinals pitchers having another season to work on their moves and times, Molina’s percentage could go back toward the 40 percent level because his arm appears as strong as ever. With Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup, Molina won’t have to hit in the top three or four. He is expected to hit fifth or sixth.

MOLINA’S 2018 STATS .261 AVERAGE 74 RBI

66 Ks 20 DOUBLES

0 TRIPLES 4 STEALS

120 HITS 29 WALKS 20 HRs

LIKELY REALITY Will Molina slow down? Maybe, but he is in as good a shape as he’s ever been and he’s ravenous for a fifth World Series or at least a playoff appearance for the first time in four seasons. A season of 15 homers, 70 RBIs and a .270 average would seem reasonable. If he takes a day off a week, Molina still could catch 140 games. His prospective backup was switch-hitting Matt Wieters, signed in late February, although Francisco Pena, last year’s backup, remained in the mix. Pena, however, was set back by an oblique injury suffered in early March. Pena had the pitchers’ confidence last year and showed occasional power at bat. Wieters, a regular his entire 10-season career and an All-Star four times, would have to adjust to a slim playing schedule. Young Andrew Knizner, 24, will be the starter at Memphis at the beginning of the season and is the heir apparent. Knizner’s forte is hitting (.313 average at Class AA/AAA last year), but Molina worked with him this spring to try to accelerate Knizner’s learning curve defensively. The backup catcher here bats about 15 to 20 times a month, so the focal point is how well that catcher plays defensively, not how well he hits. Rick Hummel @cmshhummel on Twitter rhummel@post-dispatch.com

Wieters


BASEBALL PREVIEW

S36 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

AMERICAN LEAGUE

UNSTOPPABLE RED SOX Yankees, Astros also look strong, but Central Division is terrible BY JEFF GORDON • St. Louis Post-Dispatch Order of projected finish

Betts

Correa

Lindor

AP PHOTOS

EAST DIVISION

CENTRAL DIVISION

WEST DIVISION

BOSTON RED SOX

CLEVELAND INDIANS

HOUSTON ASTROS

2018 record • 108-54, 1st Outlook • This team is a juggernaut, even with second baseman Dustin Pedroia struggling to come back from knee surgery. Outfielders Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts, designated hitter J.D. Martinez, shortstop Xander Bogaerts ... there are so many offensive weapons. How long the Red Sox can stay on top remains to be seen, but the franchise is trying to lock Betts and starting pitcher Chris Sale into long-term extensions to keep the ride going. Out to prove • The bullpen can withstand the loss of closer Craig Kimbrel and set-up man Joe Kelly to free agency. That’s a pretty big if for a team looking to repeat its World Series victory. The loss of knuckleball specialist Steven Wright to an 80-game PED suspension doesn’t help.

2018 record • 91-71, 1st Outlook • The Indians will miss sluggers Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion (who produced 30 or more homers for six straight years and at least 100 RBIs in four straight). Can the return of first baseman Carlos Santana and addition of designated hitter Hanley Ramirez offset that? Regardless, their starting rotation of Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber gives them every chance to win this dreadful division again. Out to prove • They can avoid another round of tanking and rebuilding as cornerstone players edge closer to free agency. They failed to secure shortstop Francisco Lindor with a longterm extension during the offseason, and they listened to trade offers for Kluber and Bauer. So the core group is on the clock.

2018 record • 103-59, 1st Outlook • The Astros hope shortstop Carlos Correa will bounce back from his injury-plagued 2018 season, which produced a mediocre .239/.323/.405 batting line. But stars surround him in the lineup, including second baseman Jose Altuve, third baseman Alex Bregman and outfielder George Springer. The minors’ top pitching prospect, Forrest Whitley, and outfield prospect Kyle Tucker will help this season. The Astros added outfielder Michael Brantley, pitcher Wade Miley, catcher Robinson Chirinos and infielder Aledmys Diaz while subtracting catchers Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado, pitcher Charlie Morton and utility man Marwin Gonzalez. Whew! Out to prove • Dynasties are still possible with players coming and going. The Astros have won back-to-back AL West titles and they are shooting for their second World Series championship in the last three seasons.

NEW YORK YANKEES

MINNESOTA TWINS

2018 record • 100-62, 2nd Outlook • To quote general manager Brian Cashman, the Yankees are still a “fully operational Death Star.” They added reliever Adam Ottovino and re-upped midseason acquisitions J.A. Happ and Zack Britton to multi-year deals. They also traded for starting pitcher James Paxton to fortify a rotation that also features Luis Severino (once healthy) and Masahiro Tanaka. Outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge drive an offense that also features power-hitting catcher Gary Sanchez. Out to prove • They really didn’t need Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Despite having the resources to get in on the bidding for those two free agents, the Yankees took a pass.

2018 Record • 78-84, 2nd Outlook • The Twins worked the free-agent market for more offense, adding designated hitter Nelson Cruz, utility man Marwin Gonzalez, second baseman Jonathan Schoop and first baseman C.J. Cron. Suddenly their lineup looks far more powerful with shortstop Jorge Polanco and outfielders Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler getting more help. But there is reason to fret about their starting pitching beyond emerging star Jose Berrios. Out to prove • Cornerstone youngsters Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano can take the next step in their careers as the Twins compete for a playoff berth. That challenge became greater for Sano after a foot procedure sidelined him until May.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

2018 record • 90-72, 3rd Outlook • Poor starting pitching depth last season prompted manager Kevin Cash to resort to his “opener” strategy — beginning some games with a relief pitcher to create optimal matchups early. The budget-conscious Rays made a two-year, $30 million bet on free-agent starter Charlie Morton, and they added catcher Mike Zunino, outfielder Avisail Garcia and infielder Yandy Diaz to put more pop in the starting lineup. Getting a breakout season from outfielder Austin Meadows would help. Out to prove • Baseball can flourish in the St. PetersburgTampa region. Former Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham isn’t the only person concerned about the team’s small fan base and sadly outdated stadium.

2018 record • 62-100, 4th Outlook • Their pitching should be improved with the addition of starter Ivan Nova and relievers Alex Colome and Kelvin Herrera. The White Sox must get youngster Lucas Giolito on track after his brutal (10-13, 6.13 ERA) 2018 season. While acquiring first baseman Yonder Alonso and outfielder Jon Jay didn’t close the sale on free-agent Manny Machado — Alonso is his brother-in-law, Jay one of his best friends — those moves did add depth and balance to the Chicago attack. The early-season arrival of top outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez should help as well. Out to prove • After whiffing on their pursuit of Machado, the franchise will someday find its turning point. It’s not likely to come this season, although getting slugger Jose Abreu healthy and hitting would help.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

DETROIT TIGERS

2018 record • 73-89, 4th Outlook • The Blue Jays are in tank-and-rebuild mode. They ditched injury-plagued Troy Tulowitzki and moved on from catcher Russell Martin. They added former Cardinals relievers Bud Norris and John Axford to provide stopgap bullpen protection. Outfielder Randal Grichuk (25 homers in 124 games last season) reduced his strikeout rate after arriving from St. Louis. Rival teams will be tracking pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, among others, in case Toronto clears out more veterans to add more prospects and expedite the retooling. Out to prove • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be the next new thing in baseball. But the Blue Jays might take their time promoting him so they can push back his arbitration and free agency rights.

2018 record • 64-98, 3rd Outlook • Fans in Motown are feeling the tank-andrebuild pain. The Tigers could be bad for a long, long time. Perhaps trading away outfielder Nicholas Castellanos could yield some long-term assets, but this team doesn’t have much else to sell. Oh, and the franchise owes yesteryear slugger Miguel Cabrera $154 million over the next five years. But pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (owed $50 million the next two years) is the only other Tiger under contract past this season. Out to prove • They can find some value in bargain signings like starting pitchers Matt Moore and Tyson Ross, plus infielders Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison. Otherwise a 100-loss season is in the offing.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS BALTIMORE ORIOLES 2018 record • 47-115, 5th Outlook • This team will be terrible. Again. They lost 115 games despite having infielder Manny Machado post a .315/.387/.575 batting line in 96 games. Now Machado is off to San Diego, and the Orioles feature the worst roster in the majors. “Slugger” Chris Davis posted a .168/.243/.296 batting line last season and is still owed $92 million over the next four seasons. The Orioles’ collapse took its toll on once-promising starting pitcher Dylan Bundy, who was 8-16 with a 5.45 ERA last season. Out to prove • New general manager Mike Elias can guide this tank-and-rebuild project and lead the Orioles back to prominence, a la the Houston Astros. He selected former Chicago Cubs coach Brandon Hyde as his first field manager. But other than outfielder Yusniel Diaz, there aren’t many prospects to be excited about.

2018 record • 58-104, 5th Outlook • The bullpen should improve with the addition of Brad Boxberger and Jake Diekman, but both could depart when other teams come shopping for relief help. The Royals are in the midst of a tank-and-rebuild plan, and it could be a long time before Kansas City gets another parade. The loss of catcher Salvador Perez to an elbow injury only makes things tougher. Shortstop Aldaberto Mondesi and pitcher Brad Keller are nice building blocks, but the Royals need many more. Out to prove • Speed can improve run production. Whit Merrifield stole 45 bases last season, and the Royals signed outfielder Billy Hamilton, pinch-runner Terrance Gore and handyman Chris Owings. Hamilton and Gore are two of the faster players in the sport, and Owings can steal a base too.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS 2018 record • 97-65, 2nd Outlook • Free-agent addition Joakim Soria bolsters the bullpen, and newcomer Marco Estrada boosts a rotation that overachieved last season. Infielder Jurickson Profar could become a building block after arriving in a three-way trade. He muscled up for 35 doubles, 20 homers and 77 RBIs after finally breaking through for Texas last season. He joins a strong lineup featuring former Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty, emerging third base star Matt Chapman and powerhitting DH Khris Davis. Offense should not be an issue. Out to prove • The A’s can shake off the loss of top draft pick Kyler Murray, a promising outfielder who opted to enter the NFL draft at quarterback rather than play baseball. What will be the long-term impact of that decision?

LOS ANGELES ANGELS 2018 record • 80-82, 4th Outlook • The Angels are trying to piece together a pitching staff while Shohei Ohtani recovers from Tommy John surgery. Reclamation project Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill joined the starting rotation, and Cody Allen signed on for bullpen duty. Adding veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy should help. With Ohtani limited to the designated hitter role, Albert Pujols will have to compete for at-bats at first base with newcomer Justin Bour, whose lefthanded power swing is a good fit in Anaheim. Out to prove • That another ridiculous contract (see Albert Pujols) is the right way to begin a rebuild after outfielder Mike Trout re-upped for a reported 12 years, $430 million in spring training. Does the franchise have enough resources to put talent around him?

SEATTLE MARINERS 2018 record • 83-79, 3rd Outlook • The Mariners have a whole new look. Frantic GM Jerry Dipito cleared out designated hitter Nelson Cruz, second baseman Robinson Canó, shortstop Jean Segura, catcher Mike Zunino and pitchers James Paxton, Edwin Diaz and Alex Colome. First baseman Edwin Encarnación; pitchers Yusei Kikuchi, Hunter Strickland and Justus Sheffield; and outfielders Domingo Santana, Jay Bruce and Mallex Smith arrived through various routes. Encarnacion, Bruce and Santana (who hit 30 homers and drove in 85 runs two years ago in Milwaukee) offer plenty of power potential. Out to prove • Kikuchi can make the adjustment from Japan to the big leagues after arriving with a $56 million free-agent contract. He posted a career 2.81 ERA in Japan, but he did encounter shoulder issues last season.

TEXAS RANGERS 2018 record • 67-95, 5th Outlook • Last season the Rangers featured the secondworst starting pitching rotation in the majors, better than only Baltimore. Former Cardinals Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller are among the newcomers trying to fix that problem. Additions Jesse Chavez, Zach McAllister and Shawn Kelley should upgrade the bullpen, and infield acquisitions Asdrubal Cabrera and Logan Forsythe will offer stopgap help. Joey Gallo should smack a bunch of homers again, but he needs to hit better than .206. Out to prove • Second baseman Rougned Odor and outfielder Nomar Mazara can break out offensively. Mazara hit 40 homers and drove in 178 runs in the last two seasons, but he appears capable of much more. Jeff Gordon • 314-340-8175 @gordoszone on Twitter jgordon@post-dispatch.com


BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S37

NATIONAL LEAGUE

NATS, CUBS TO REBOUND Meanwhile, the Dodgers will go on winning the West Division BY JEFF GORDON • St. Louis Post-Dispatch In order of projected finish

Soto

Darvish

Kershaw

AP PHOTOS

EAST DIVISION

CENTRAL DIVISION

WEST DIVISION

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

CHICAGO CUBS

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

2018 record • 80-82, 2nd Outlook • The Nationals moved on without slugging outfielder Bryce Harper after he rejected the team’s back-loaded contract offer. A full season from outfielder Adam Eaton should ease some pain. He played just 118 games the last two seasons while posting a .300/.394/.422 batting line. The lineup, featuring third baseman Anthony Rendon, shortstop Trea Turner, second baseman Brian Dozier and young outfielders Juan Soto and Victor Robles should score lots of runs. Out to prove • Starting pitcher Patrick Corbin was worth that $140 million commitment as the Nationals try to win with strong pitching. Anibal Sanchez and Jeremy Hellickson also fit in behind top starters Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Former Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal and former Cardinals prospect Kyle Barraclough give the bullpen a fresh look.

2018 record • 95-68, 2nd Outlook • Manager Joe Maddon is in the final year of his contract, so he faces a win-or-else mandate. The Cubs’ 2016 world championship breakthrough spurred dynasty talk, but they lost in the NLCS in 2017 and fell in the wild-card game last fall. Their prime-age hitters remain formidable — Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber — but the starting rotation and bullpen might be fraying around the edges. Out to prove • Starter Yu Darvish will pay big dividends after his injury-marred 2018 season, when he made eight starts and went 1-3 with 4.96 ERA after signing a six-year, $126 million contract. Starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood and reliever Brandon Morrow also must produce better returns.

2018 record • 92-71, 1st Outlook • After winning six consecutive division titles, the Dodgers look capable of extending that streak. They made some extensive changes, though, trading or losing outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, catcher Yasmani Grandal, starting pitcher Alex Wood and infielders Manny Machado and Brian Dozier. They brought back catcher Russell Martin and added reliever Joe Kelly and outfielder A.J. Pollock in free agency. When healthy, Clayton Kershaw will lead a strong rotation that also features Walker Buehler. If healthy, Kenley Jansen will head an impressive bullpen. Out to prove • Shortstop Corey Seager is still one of baseball’s best young hitters after undergoing major surgical repairs. The Dodgers are counting on that after losing Machado to free agency.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES 2018 record • 80-82, 3rd Outlook • A good young team got much better with the addition of outfielders Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura through free agency and trades. Harper enjoys a career .564 slugging percentage in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. These additions bumped slugger Rhys Hoskins from left field to first base, where he is far more comfortable defensively. This high-scoring team should give its solid starting pitching (Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Vince Valasquez, Zach Eflin) room to work. Out to prove • That spending “stupid” money, as owner John Middleton put it, can vault a franchise back onto the fast track. Landing Harper on a 13-year, $330 million contract capped an epic winter of trading and spending. After patiently rebuilding, the Phillies decided it’s time to go for it.

2018 record • 88-74, 3rd Outlook • The Cardinals have lots and lots of pitching ... but also many questions about that staff, including the mileage left on Adam Wainwright and the durability of Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Alex Reyes. Odds are this team will need every bit of its impressive pitching depth to get through the season. The signing of Andrew Miller upgrades the bullpen, and trading for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt gives the offense a huge boost. But will the Cardinals get the 2017 Marcell Ozuna or the diminished 2018 version? The same goes for outfielder Dexter Fowler. Out to prove • That bringing Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis and signing him to an extension was the right move. If Goldschmidt performs as he has in the past and lives up to expectations, the talent the team gave up to acquire him was well worth it.

COLORADO ROCKIES 2018 record • 91-72, 2nd Outlook • Starters Kyle Freeland (17-7, 2.85 ERA) and German Marquez (14-11, 3.77 ERA) exceeded expectations last season. A surprisingly good rotation could become better if starter Jon Gray bounces back from his difficult (5.12 ERA) campaign. First baseman Daniel Murphy adds heft to a lineup featuring third baseman Nolan Arenado, shortstop Trevor Story and outfielders Charlie Blackmon and Ian Desmond. The bullpen got stronger with former Cardinals closer Seung-hwan Oh but took a hit with Adam Ottovino’s departure via free agency. Out to prove • The $260 million contract extension for Arenado will give the franchise the foundation for perennial contention.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS MILWAUKEE BREWERS ATLANTA BRAVES 2018 record • 90-72, 1st Outlook • Third baseman Josh Donaldson and catcher Brian McCann arrived this winter to add heft and experience to a powerful young team that also features first baseman Freddie Freeman, second baseman Ozzie Albies and outfielders Ronald Acuna Jr. and Nick Markakis. The Braves lost starter Anibal Sanchez to free agency, but they have an army of good pitchers developing behind starters Kevin Gausman, Julio Teheran, Sean Newcomb and the injured Mike Foltynewicz. Out to prove • Former first overall draft pick Dansby Swanson can become a cornerstone player. So far he has posted a .243/.314/.369 batting line in the big leagues, and that sort of production won’t keep him in the lineup much longer given the fierce NL East competition.

2018 record • 96-67, 1st Outlook • Adding catcher Yasmani Grandal made a strong offensive attack even stronger. The Brewers also brought back slugger Mike Moustakas, this time to play second base. That should be fun! NL MVP Christian Yelich may not match his staggering 2018 production, but this team will hit lots of home runs. As for the starting rotation, Jhoulys Chacin, Chase Anderson and Zach Davies are ordinary — so Jimmy Nelson will need to make a strong comeback from shoulder trouble. Out to prove • A powerful offense and a deep bullpen can offset unremarkable starting pitching. That’s the formula the Brewers used last season to edge the Cubs for the division title.

SAN DIEGO PADRES CINCINNATI REDS

NEW YORK METS 2018 record • 77-85, 4th Outlook • While the Mets stayed out of the high end of the free-agent marketplace, they added second baseman Robinson Cano, catcher Wilson Ramos, infielder Jed Lowrie, closer Edwin Diaz and reliever Justin Wilson through various maneuvers. They brought back reliever Jeurys Familia, too, while subtracting outfielder Jay Bruce and injury-battered third baseman David Wright. They hope to get Yoenis Cespedes back from surgical repairs by midseason, but will he ever be the same slugger? And can Todd Frazier regain his health and power stroke during the walk year of his contract? Out to prove • New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen can transition from his previous life as a player agent. Now he is on the other side of the fence on issues such as a contract extension for former clients like ace pitcher Jacob DeGrom.

MIAMI MARLINS 2018 record • 63-98, 5th Outlook • The Marlins went to the bargain bin for stopgap free agents Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker and Sergio Romo. Those veterans will support youngsters like pitcher Sandy Alcantara, Sixto Sanchez, Jorge Alfaro and Victor Victor Mesa. But this team is doomed to 100 losses in an otherwise excellent division. Out to prove • CEO’s tank-and-rebuild plan will result in a nucleus of good young players capable of contending some day. Corner outfielder/infielder Brian Anderson looks like a keeper after his strong 2018 season, but can the others make that same leap?

2018 record • 82-80, 3rd Outlook • The Diamondbacks are hitting the reset button after trading first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis and losing pitcher Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollock to free agency. They have some notable pitching, led by starters Zack Greinke and Robby Ray. Outfielder David Peralta is coming off a breakout 30-homer, 87-RBI season, but Arizona needs first baseman Jake Lamb to bounce back from his power-sapping shoulder injury. A rebound from reliever Archie Bradley could also make a difference. Out to prove • Failed Cardinals closer Greg Holland still has something left. He reunites with starting pitcher Luke Weaver and catcher Carson Kelly — former teammates gained in the Goldschmidt trade — in Phoenix.

2018 record • 67-95, 5th Outlook • Outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp arrived from the Dodgers to join first baseman Joey Votto, second baseman Scooter Gennett and third baseman Eugenio Suarez in the hitterfriendly Great American Bandbox, er, Ball Park. Elite hitting prospect Nick Senzel will take his cuts as well, assuming he can finally stay healthy and find his spot in the lineup. Out to prove • Much-needed pitching upgrades will help the Reds become relevant after four straight lastplace finishes. Adding starters Tanner Roark, Sonny Gray and Alex Wood gives the staff a whole new look. Former Cardinals player and coach David Bell brings fresh ideas as the new manager, so long-suffering Cincinnati fans could have some fun this summer.

2018 record • 66-96, 5th Outlook • The previously penurious Padres surprised the industry by signing free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer in last year’s market and third baseman Manny Machado this time around. That commitment of $444 million fastforwarded the rebuild. Along with second baseman Ian Kinsler and outfielder Wil Myers, Machado and Hosmer provide veteran support to the promising young nucleus featuring catcher Francisco Mejia, infielders Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis Jr. and starting pitchers Chris Paddack, MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino. Out to prove • Spending huge dollars on Hosmer and Machado will actually vault this perpetual also-ran into consistent playoff contention. That won’t be easy while operating with a substandard starting rotation in the shadow of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

2018 record • 82-79, 4th Outlook • Outfielder Andrew McCutchen is long gone. So are starting pitcher Gerrit Cole and utility man Josh Harrison. Outfielders Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Corey Dickerson drive the offense. First baseman Josh Bell still offers untapped potential after slipping from 25 homers in 2017 to 12 last season. (He had a .440 slugging percentage after the All-Star break in 2018.) And the Pirates have a solid starting rotation with Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove. Out to prove • This team can get back into the playoff chase while operating with one of the smaller payrolls in the industry. The Pirates’ offseason shopping spree was more of a dumpster dive, yielding the likes of outfielder Melky Cabrera and pitcher Francisco Liriano. This franchise can afford to do more.

2018 record • 73-89, 4th Outlook • The Giants suddenly became old and irrelevant. Third baseman Evan Longoria (.244/.281/.413 battting line last season) has four years and more than $62 million remaining on his contract. Catcher Buster Posey and ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner have suffered injuries and diminished production. Starting pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija can still eat some innings, but at inflated cost. Bruce Bochy’s final season as manager figures to be unpleasant with the Giants likely to sell off assets on the fly. Out to prove • New general manager Farhan Zaidi is the right architect to lead the rebuilding process. He is starting from scratch, since the Giants’ farm system is virtually bereft of talent. Zaidi tried to expedite the process by bidding for free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper but came up empty. Jeff Gordon • 314-340-8175 @gordoszone on Twitter jgordon@post-dispatch.com


BASEBALL PREVIEW

S38 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

FINAL 2018 REGULAR SEASON MLB STATISTICS National League BATTING Yelich, MIL Gennett, CIN Freeman, ATL Rendon, WAS Cain, MIL Zobrist, CHC Martinez, STL Dickerson, PIT Markakis, ATL Arenado, COL HOME RUNS Arenado, COL Story, COL Carpenter, STL Yelich, MIL Aguilar, MIL Muncy, LAD Baez, CHC Harper, WAS Hoskins, PHI Suarez, CIN RUNS BATTED IN Baez, CHC Arenado, COL Yelich, MIL Aguilar, MIL Story, COL Suarez, CIN Rizzo, CHC Harper, WAS Freeman, ATL Hoskins, PHI

.326 .310 .309 .308 .308 .305 .305 .300 .297 .297 38 37 36 36 35 35 34 34 34 34 111 110 110 108 108 104 101 100 98 96

RUNS SCORED Blackmon, COL Yelich, MIL Carpenter, STL Albies, ATL Arenado, COL Harper, WAS Turner, WAS Baez, CHC Goldschmidt, ARI Freeman, ATL

119 118 111 105 104 103 103 101 95 94

SLUGGING PERCENTAGE Yelich, MIL .598 Story, COL .567 Arenado, COL .561 Baez, CHC .554 Aguilar, MIL .539 Rendon, WAS .535 Goldschmidt, ARI .533 Suarez, CIN .526 Carpenter, STL .523 Peralta, ARI .516

HITS Freeman, ATL Yelich, MIL Markakis, ATL Blackmon, COL Peraza, CIN Gennett, CIN Turner, WAS Baez, CHC Arenado, COL Story, COL

191 187 185 182 182 181 180 176 175 174

ON-BASE PERCENTAGE Votto, CIN .417 Nimmo, NYM .404 Yelich, MIL .402 Cain, MIL .395 Harper, WAS .393 Goldschmidt, ARI .389 Freeman, ATL .388 Zobrist, CHC .378 Rizzo, CHC .376 Carpenter, STL .374

BASES ON BALLS Harper, WAS Santana, PHI Votto, CIN Carpenter, STL

STOLEN BASES Turner, WAS Hamilton, CIN Marte, PIT Cain, MIL Inciarte, ATL Story, COL Jankowski, SD Rosario, NYM Taylor, WAS Peraza, CIN

43 34 33 30 28 27 24 24 24 23

DOUBLES Freeman, ATL Rendon, WAS Markakis, ATL Carpenter, STL Story, COL

130 110 108 102 44 44 43 42 42

TRIPLES Marte, ARI Baez, CHC Hamilton, CIN

12 9 9

TOTAL BASES Yelich, MIL Story, COL Baez, CHC Arenado, COL Goldschmidt, ARI Blackmon, COL Freeman, ATL Carpenter, STL

343 339 336 331 316 314 312 295

EARNED RUN AVERAGE deGrom, NYM 1.70 Nola, PHI 2.37 Scherzer, WAS 2.53 Mikolas, STL 2.83 Freeland, COL 2.85 Foltynewicz, ATL 2.85 WON-LOST Mikolas, STL Lester, CHC Scherzer, WAS Nola, PHI Freeland, COL Chacin, MIL

18-4 18-6 18-7 17-6 17-7 15-8

G AMES PITCHED Ziegler, ARI Cishek, CHC Chafin, ARI Bradley, ARI

82 80 77 76

SAVES Davis, COL Jansen, LAD Vazquez, PIT Boxberger, ARI Iglesias, CIN

43 38 37 32 30

INNINGS PITCHED Scherzer, WAS 220.2 deGrom, NYM 217.0 Nola, PHI 212.1 Greinke, ARI 207.2 Freeland, COL 202.1 Mikolas, STL 200.2 STRIKEOUTS Scherzer, WAS deGrom, NYM Corbin, ARI Marquez, COL Nola, PHI

300 269 246 230 224

COMPLETE GAMES Foltynewicz, ATL Scherzer, WAS Syndergaard, NYM Taillon, PIT SHUTOUTS Corbin, ARI Foltynewicz, ATL Mikolas, STL Scherzer, WAS Stratton, SF Syndergaard, NYM Taillon, PIT Williams, PIT

2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

American League BATTING Betts, BOS Martinez, BOS Altuve, HOU Trout, LAA Brantley, CLE Merrifield, KC Segura, SEA Wendle, TB Castellanos, DET Andujar, NYY

.346 .330 .315 .312 .309 .304 .304 .300 .298 .297

STOLEN BASES Merrifield, KC Smith, TB Ramirez, CLE Mondesi, KC Betts, BOS Gordon, SEA Anderson, CHW Lindor, CLE Trout, LAA Allen, CLE Benintendi, BOS Davis, CLE Villar, BAL

45 40 34 32 30 30 26 25 24 21 21 21 21

HOME RUNS Davis, OAK Martinez, BOS Gallo, TEX Ramirez, CLE Trout, LAA Lindor, CLE Stanton, NYY Cruz, SEA Betts, BOS Encarnacion, CLE

48 43 40 39 39 38 38 37 32 32

RUNS BATTED IN Martinez, BOS Davis, OAK Encarnacion, CLE Ramirez, CLE Bogaerts, BOS Bregman, HOU Stanton, NYY Lowrie, OAK Cruz, SEA Haniger, SEA

SLUGGING PERCENTAGE Betts, BOS .640 Martinez, BOS .629 Trout, LAA .628 Ramirez, CLE .555 Davis, OAK .549 Bregman, HOU .532 Andujar, NYY .527 Bogaerts, BOS .522 Lindor, CLE .519 Stanton, NYY .509

130 123 107 106 103 103 100 99 97 93

ON-BASE PERCENTAGE Trout, LAA .460 Betts, BOS .438 Martinez, BOS .402 Bregman, HOU .394 Ramirez, CLE .388 Altuve, HOU .384 Choo, TEX .377 Merrifield, KC .367 Smith, TB .367

RUNS SCORED Betts, BOS Lindor, CLE Martinez, BOS Ramirez, CLE Bregman, HOU Benintendi, BOS Springer, HOU Stanton, NYY Trout, LAA Chapman, OAK

129 129 111 110 105 103 102 102 101 100

HITS Merrifield, KC Martinez, BOS Castellanos, DET Lindor, CLE Betts, BOS Segura, SEA Brantley, CLE

192 188 185 183 180 178 176

BASES ON BALLS Trout, LAA Ramirez, CLE Bregman, HOU Choo, TEX Hicks, NYY Smoak, TOR Betts, BOS

122 106 96 92 90 83 81

DOUBLES Bregman, HOU Andujar, NYY Betts, BOS Castellanos, DET Bogaerts, BOS Merrifield, KC

51 47 47 46 45 43

TRIPLES Smith, TB Sanchez, CHW Kiermaier, TB

10 10 9

TOTAL BASES Martinez, BOS Lindor, CLE Betts, BOS Ramirez, CLE Bregman, HOU Davis, OAK Stanton, NYY

358 343 333 321 316 316 314

EARNED RUN AVERAGE Snell, TB 1.89 Bauer, CLE 2.21 Verlander, HOU 2.52 Cole, HOU 2.88 Kluber, CLE 2.89 Clevinger, CLE 3.02 Morton, HOU 3.13 WON-LOST Snell, TB Kluber, CLE Severino, NYY Happ, NYY Porcello, BOS Carrasco, CLE Yarbrough, TB Price, BOS GAMES PITCHED Pressly, HOU Alvarez, LAA Petit, OAK

21-5 20-7 19-8 17-6 17-7 17-10 16-6 16-7 77 76 74

SAVES Diaz, SEA Kimbrel, BOS

57 42

INNINGS PITCHED Kluber, CLE 215.0 Verlander, HOU 214.0 Keuchel, HOU 204.2 Shields, CHW 204.2 STRIKEOUTS Verlander, HOU Cole, HOU Sale, BOS Carrasco, CLE Kluber, CLE Bauer, CLE Snell, TB

290 276 237 231 222 221 221

COMPLETE GAMES Berrios, MIN Carrasco, CLE Kluber, CLE Paxton, SEA

2 2 2 2

SHUTOUTS Berrios, MIN Clevinger, CLE Cole, HOU Heaney, LAA Kluber, CLE Manaea, OAK Mengden, OAK Paxton, SEA Severino, NYY Tanaka, NYY Verlander, HOU

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

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BASEBALL PREVIEW

03.24.2019 • SUNDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S39

MEDIA VIEWS

FAMILY FRIENDLY Some home games will start earlier to help fans who bring children DAN CAESAR St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Cardinals are going to be early birds this season. With games now often lasting more than three hours, the Redbirds this year have implemented 6:45 p.m. starting times for their Monday through Thursday home contests early and late in the season — while most schools are in session. That’s a half hour earlier than has been the norm. That affects seven games early in the year, before a homestand begins May 21, and eight games from Aug. 19 to the end of the campaign. There is one exception. The May 6 contest, a Monday against Philadelphia, is being shown to much of the nation by ESPN and has been set for 7:05 p.m. There’s more. With three 6:15 p.m. starts set for the summer months on “getaway” days for the Cardinals’ opponents (Marlins on June 20, Athletics on June 26 and Cubs on Aug. 1), that means 18 MondayThursday night games are set to start by 6:45. Then there are 10 weekday afternoon games. So 28 of the club’s 40 MondayThursday contests are to begin before the traditional 7:15 start time. The idea is to get games over earlier for fans with children, who might not otherwise attend if they know it is unlikely they’d be out of the stadium before 10:15 if they stayed until the end. Attendance at those times of the season is not as good as it is when schools are out. “This is not a whimsical decision, we’ve been studying it for the last couple years,” Cardinals senior vice president Dan Farrell said, adding that some season-ticket holders as well as people who buy a significant number of group tickets were surveyed. “You don’t have to leave the ballpark in the seventh inning, you can stay a little later. We thought it might be a trend of fans who like to get things going a little earlier, not stay so late. We’ve had some 6:15 Thursday starts on get-away days and people liked that.” So 6:45 is the midpoint of those games and the ones at 7:15. The 7:15 start is a staple for most fans but is a big move-up from the 1960s, when many Cards contests began at 8:05 p.m. But there wasn’t a year in that decade when MLB games averaged more

ROBERT COHEN • rcohen@post-dispatch.com

Cardinals fans listen to the national anthem on the 17th anniversary of the terrorists attacks, before the Cardinals-Pirates game at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018.

than 2 hours 28 minutes. Last year, they were at 3:04 — the seventh consecutive season at 3 hours or more. (Times according to baseballreference.com) Farrell said the move is a one-year experiment, that 6:45 eventually could become the norm for Monday-Thursday games or the club could return to 7:15 for most of them. He pointed out that many other clubs have gone to earlier starts, some for the entire season. “We’re not on the front end of the trend but in the middle of it,” he said. But what about TV? Fox Sports Midwest is entering the second season of its 15-year deal, worth more than $1 billion, to be the team’s local telecaster. TV viewership generally rises as the night goes on, but FSM officials — who consulted with the team about the moveups — do not seem concerned. They pointed out that only 5 percent more of those in homes in the St. Louis market are watching television from 7-7:30 p.m. than are doing so from 6:30-7. And they said that the Cards had four games last year that started around 6:30, all on the road, and each drew a rating that equaled or surpassed FSM’s Cards average figure for that month. As a whole, the rating for those four telecasts was 16 percent better than the season average, and 6 percent above the prime-time average. FSM officials said there was no significant ratings change for other teams that have tried earlier starts in recent seasons, and that ratings’ ups and downs are tied more to the team’s per-

formance on the field, “We don’t expect it to affect our ratings averages,” Fox Sports Midwest general manager Jack Donovan said. “We want what’s good for fans and we’re eager to see what feedback the team gets. The experience at Busch Stadium is great. If the Cardinals believe this will make it even better, then we’re on board for trying it.” And the Cardinals’ Farrell points out that this could lead to fewer viewers early in the game but that loss would be more than made up at the end, when many could be watching who otherwise couldn’t have stayed up. “Will you hold the audience longer?” he asked. “Will more people be watching the eighth and ninth inning versus the first and second innings?” Expect to see a significant amount of attention devoted on the air to change. “Early in the season, we’ll remind fans more than we normally would about the new start times,” he said.

SUNDAY SLOWDOWN The Cardinals had been a mainstay on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” package for nearly a decade, making the maximum number of appearances allowed year after year. But the run ended last season, when they were on five times to fall one game short of the limit (a game against the Cubs on the Thursday after the All-Star Game, the only MLB contest played that night, counted as a Sunday appearance.) And they are almost sure to fall below the max again this year, as the schedule

for 18 of the 25 contests has been announced and includes only two Redbirds games — May 5 on the road against the Cubs, and May 26 at home against the Braves. To reach the limit the Cards would have to be picked for four of the remaining six unscheduled games, which is highly unlikely. The Cards do have a few attractive games, however, on some of the open Sundays — June 9, on the road against the Cubs, and June 23, at home against the Angels (the weekend Albert Pujols is set to play as a visitor in St. Louis for the first time). Then if the Cards are in the race down the stretch, they are at home against the Brewers on Sept. 15 and at the Cubs the following Sunday. And “Sunday Night Baseball” also is in the early start time theme this year. Most of its telecasts are to start at 6:05 p.m., about an hour earlier than in recent seasons.

IN THE BOOTH Dan McLaughlin again is to be the playby-play announcer for Fox Sports Midwest’s approximately 150 Cards telecasts, alongside four analysts who will be appearing on a rotating basis — Jim Edmonds, Ricky Horton, Brad Thompson and Tim McCarver. Al Hrabosky, a member of the Cards broadcasting crew for 34 years, is to work exclusively on FSM’s Cardinals pre- and postgame programs. His schedule there is increasing, from 50 to 80. That gives him the same total number of appearances he had last year, counting his 30 in the booth. On radio, Mike Shannon and John Rooney handle the broadcasts of home games on KMOX (1120 AM) and the Cardinals Radio Network. Rooney works with Horton on road contests, and Mike Claiborne fills in when one of the others is absent.

BY THE NUMBERS The number of games announcers had on Fox Sports Midwest’s Cardinals game telecasts last season and their projected total for this year: PLAY-BY-PLAY Dan McLaughlin

2018 147

2019 150

COMMENTARY Jim Edmonds Ricky Horton Brad Thompson Tim McCarver Al Hrabosky

2018 42 28 18 29 30

2019 45-50 35-40 35-40 29 0

Dan Caesar • 314-340-8175 @caesardan on Twitter dcaesar@post-dispatch.com

WRITERS’ PREDICTIONS DERRICK GOOLD

NL CENTRAL

NL WEST

NL EAST

NL WILD CARDS

NL CHAMPION

AL CENTRAL

AL WEST

AL EAST

AL WILD CARDS

AL CHAMPION

WORLD SERIES CHAMPION

RICK HUMMEL

BEN FREDERICKSON

BENJAMIN HOCHMAN

JEFF GORDON


S40 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

BASEBALL PREVIEW

M 1 • SUNDAY • 03.24.2019

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