2018 Winter Warm-Up Report Day 3

WWU2018Today was the third and last day of Winter Warm-Up.  It had snowed overnight, so it really looked like winter this morning.  Phillip and I boarded a Metrolink train at a later time this morning, since the first presentation we want to attend didn’t start until 11:00 AM.  We arrived at the Hyatt only 10 minutes after WWU opened for the day, and there were no lines snaking through the lobby.  The third day of WWU is not as well attended as the previous two days, since out-of-town people travel home and other people have to work on that day. The WWU planners seem to realize this too, as there were  no presentations in the Dugout room until 12 PM.

We checked in our coats and went down to the second floor to look at the vendor booths.  One of the vendors had a $5 bin with leftover promotional items.  I bought a Cardinals beach towel and a grey 1940’s jersey for my husband.  Some of the vendors had 50% off sales, and the Cardinals Care store had 50% off all of their items.  Even at 50% off, the jerseys still cost more than my budget allowed.

We went upstairs to the Main Stage ballroom to see what was going on.  The guys giving autographs before lunch this morning were Tyler O’Neill, Andrew Knizer, John Mabry, Brett Cecil, Whitey Herzog, Cliff Politte, Andy and Alan Benes, Mike Matheny, and Bill DeWitt II and III.  Once again, I need to apologize for the photo quality.  See the Day 1 report for details.

The first presentation we attended today was with Bill DeWitt, Jr. and III on the Main Stage.  They were interviewed by Matt Chambers of local TV station KMOV.  DeWitt, Jr. talked about the strategic way they look at players.  The issue of social media was discussed and how it stirs up interest in the club and engages players with the public.  As president of the club, DeWitt III is in charge of the Cardinals’ social media presence.  The Communications Department does the actual posting on social media.  DeWitt III said that the most popular social media posts are about the history of the Cardinals.

DeWitt III spoke about Phase II of Ballpark Village.  The west side will be a hotel, an office tower, and additional retail and some parking.  The east side will be a 29 story, 300 unit apartment complex.

DeWitt III then talked about the new Budweiser Terrace, which will be in the upper deck in the right field terrace level.  It will be a standing room only, social area for fans to kick back and socialize.

Questions were then taken from the audience.  The first question was since there was so many blown games last season, why didn’t the front office pick up Greg Holland or another closer?  DeWitt, Jr. had a long, drawn out answer, but the highlights were that there is no certainty with a closer – they can be great one year and bad the next, and if the current crop of available closers were great, they’d have been picked up already.

There were a couple of other interesting questions and thank you messages for the DeWitts for keeping baseball going in St. Louis.

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The second presentation we attended today was “2017 – A Year in Photos” by Taka Yanagimoto, the head of the Cardinals’ photo department. We attended this presentation last year and really enjoyed it, so we thought we would attend it this year.  Mr. Yanagimoto started by presenting some statistics as to how many photographs the photography team shot last season – 22,000 photos.  21,000 of those photos were saved to the archives.  Photographs are used in many ways – social media, the Cardinals magazine, etc.  The best part came next – when Mr. Yanagimoto ran the slide show of the best photographs that were taken last year.  It was sad to realize that a lot of the players in the photographs were no longer with the team.

After the presentation, Phillip and I went to Subway for lunch.  The temperature was starting to drop, and the wind was very cold coming off of the river.

The afternoon autograph signers were Kerry Robinson, Ray Lankford, Tom Lawless, Matt Carpenter, Jack Flaherty, and the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) Yadier Molina.  Phillip wanted to go home after lunch, but I wanted to see Yadi.  I was going to purchase an autograph ticket for Ray Lankford this morning when I got to the Hyatt, but when I went to the ticket sale area, I discovered that there were no more tickets left for Ray. Everyone was so happy to see Yadi that they broke out in a round of applause when he sat down in his seat.

We then hurried down to the second floor to see the presentation with the bald eagle.  The eagle’s name was Liberty and the handler from the World Bird Sanctuary explained how Liberty came to live at the World Bird Sanctuary.  He spoke about the work that the World Bird Sanctuary.  Since we were late, we were at the back of the room. Fredbird sneaked into the room and gave me a peck on the head.  He always does that when he sees me because I have red hair.

After the bald eagle presentation, we went to the Cardinals Authentic booth to see if I could win a lovely 2009 All-Star Game plaque by correctly answering the trivia question.  I could not answer it, although I did not cheat by Googling the answer. The question was about Yadi – who did he pass on the Cardinals’ all time hits list?  It was Jim Bottomley.

It was time to us go home.  We  had a great time but I will do some things better next year.  I will have a better phone, a better camera, and I will get more autograph tickets.  I will also pack a lunch for at least one day to save some money.

Thanks for reading my long reports!  See you next time!

Diane

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Ch-ch-ch-changes (time to face the strange)

(With apologies to the late David Bowie.) By now, you probably know that there was a press conference at Busch Stadium this afternoon with general manager John Mozeliak and some changes were to the coaching staff were announced, along with a player move.  For those whose missed the news, here’s a recap:

  • Chris Maloney, the third base coach, will be reassigned to another position in the Cardinals organization.
  • Mike Schildt, the quality control coach, will replace Maloney as third base coach.
  • Assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller is taking a leave of absence.  Mark Budaska is being brought up from AAA Memphis to replace Miller.
  • Ron “Pop” Warner is being brought up from AAA Memphis to assist the coaching staff.
  • Kolten Wong was activated, and Jhonny Peralta was designated for assignment to make room for Kolten.

I (and a lot of others) don’t think that the cuts went far enough.  We were hoping that John Mabry would be relieved of his duties as hitting coach.  Something is wrong when a team scores an average of 2 runs a game.  When players get sent down to Memphis to retune their hitting stroke and rake there, but when they come back to the main club and go back to their bad ways, there’s a problem.  When Randall Grichuk has to go all the way down to single A to work with a hitting guru, there’s a problem.  When Matt Adams is traded to the Braves and he’s blistering home runs in their new stadium, there’s a problem.  If the team’s hitting problems continue, Mabry needs to go, even though he’s Mike Matheny’s BFF.

I have a suggestion, for what it’s worth.  How about hiring Chris Carpenter as a bullpen coach?  They are in great need of assistance as well.

Peralta’s time with the team has been over for quite awhile.  Peralta hasn’t had any RBI’s this season at all. Jedd Gyorko’s excellent playing and hitting abilities made Peralta redundant. Jonathan Broxton was also released recently.  Best of luck to both of them, and thanks for the memories.

Changes had to be made. Cardinals fans were very discouraged by the 7 game road game losing streak.  Some of those games could have been won.  If the team doesn’t start winning soon, fans will make their displeasure known via their wallets.  They’ll stop coming to the games.  If fans stop coming to the games, they won’t be spending money before, during and after the games.  Not only will it be bad for Busch Stadium business, it will be bad for Ballpark Village business, as well as for other businesses near the stadium.  I am very sad about the Cards’ lackluster play this season as well.  I really hope the Cards can get things turned around.

This Sunday is the annual United Cardinals Bloggers event when the Cardinals invite us all to Busch Stadium to a question and answer session with John Mozeliak and Bill DeWill, III, and then are treated to the Sunday afternoon game in a party room.  The Q&A session ought to be really interesting this year.  I’ll report on that in my next post.

Thanks as always for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

Housecleaning time

housecleaningNow that I’ve had time to mourn the end of Cardinals baseball for 2015, it’s time to look ahead to 2016 and think about how to make the team better.  Yes, I know, the Cards won 100 games in 2015, but the team didn’t make it past the NLDS due to the collapse of hitting and pitching.  So here are my suggestions for housecleaning chores:

1. Resign Jason Heyward. Preferably as soon as possible – the longer Cards’ management waits, the more his asking price will go up, especially if he receives big offers from other interested teams.  I made my arguments for resigning Heyward back in August in this blog post.  The Cards have the money to sign Heyward to a big contract, so let’s get it done.

2. Fire John Mabry. Maybe listening to my hubby complain about him is rubbing off on me, but I believe it’s time for Mabry to go.  I know Mo said that all the coaches were going to be given contracts for 2016, but if Mabry hasn’t signed that contract yet, it would be easy to turn him loose.  Derrick Goold wrote a very good article about the declining offense in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which you can read here.  For what it’s worth, Jim Edmonds or Lance Berkman are my suggestions for a replacement batting coach.

3. First base. Stephen Piscotty either needs to be the Cards’ first baseman on a permanent basis or Cards management needs to trade for or acquire a first baseman.  Matt Adams was in a decline even before his injury. The Cards need more production from this spot in the lineup.

4. Time for Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos to go. Jay didn’t play most of the year due to a wrist injury. When he did come back, his defense was rusty.  Bourjos can be a speedy baserunner, but he isn’t always a smart baserunner.  Bourjos never seemed to recover from his hip injury. Tommy Pham would be a good replacement in center field. He and Randal Grichuk could be platooned, or Piscotty could play CF and Mark Reynolds or Brandon Moss could play first for a change of pace.

5. Rest for the starting lineup.. We saw this earlier in the season, when Matt Carpenter was hot at the plate, but then couldn’t play for a while because he was exhausted.  If players get proper rest, i.e., a game off once a week or so, they won’t be as prone to injury or exhaustion. The day off could be rotated – the first baseman one day, the second baseman the next day, etc.  Now if a player is on a hot hitting streak, the player may not want a day off.  That would be a decision between the player and the manager.  A day off for each player on the starting lineup also keeps the bench players fresh and gives them some playing time.

6. A professional grade back-up catcher. Tony Cruz filled in admirably while Yadi was out with his thumb injury, but it’s just not the same without Yadi. Some of the pitchers are not fond of Cruz.  I guess Yadi spoiled them for anyone else.  But Yadi is getting older, and the Cards need to find a great backup catcher to fill in for Yadi and eventually take over for him when he retires.  Travis Tartamella may be the one to fill the bill, but he only played one game during the regular season and that’s not enough to judge whether he’s the one.  If Travis isn’t the chosen one, the Cards may need to pick up a backup catcher from another team.

7. Matheny needs to learn how to manage the team in the postseason. Never was this more evident than this year. The Cards played 4 games and only won one. Perhaps Mike needs to sit down for a heart-to-heart with Whitey Herzog to learn how to manage in the postseason. I’m sure Whitey would be happy to assist.

Now that it’s the offseason, I probably won’t be posting as much. Unless, of course, something exciting happens. You can always find me on Twitter and you can find my Twitter feed on the column to the right.  Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane