With the Cards shopping for a shortstop, do you think it's possible they would pursue Troy Tulowitzki? It seems like he'd be the best fit, if the Rockies would let him go -- perhaps for a package that included something like Lance Lynn, Ryan Jackson and Jon Jay or David Freese.
-- Mike P. Bedford, Ind.
First off, that package would not come close to getting the Rockies' attention. When seeking an elite player like Tulowitzki, it's quality, not quantity, that is sought in return. The only one of those four players -- when factoring in service time and upside -- who would be appealing to Colorado would be Lynn. If the Cardinals wanted to make a run at Tulowitzki, it would almost certainly cost them several high-ceiling players -- names like Lynn, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Matt Adams, Allen Craig. Is acquiring an All-Star shortstop worth the loss of three such players? That's what the Cardinals would have to determine.
Keep in mind, too, that while it's fun to imagine Tulowitzki wearing the Birds on the Bat, there is no indication that the Rockies are willing to deal him. And while any player is available at a certain return, the Cardinals have made no suggestion that they are going to overwhelm the Rockies with a trade proposal that would significantly thin their depth. I just don't see this being the right fit because of that cost.
Why do you think Mike Matheny was given such little consideration for National League Manager of the Year? He achieved fantastic results with many rookies and/or unproven players, handled adversity and managed a team with a wide range of veterans, egos and skills. The team tied for the best record in baseball, but made few preseason lists as the team to beat in the NL. He certainly should have been a finalist.
-- Bill L., Temecula, Calif.
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I, too, was somewhat surprised Matheny did not fall higher on the ballot. That's not to suggest that Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle was not the worthiest candidate, as I think he deserved recognition for pulling a franchise from irrelevance to division contender. Behind him, though, the order could be debated.
Don Mattingly saved his job by turning an underachieving Dodgers team into the NL West champs. But how much of that was Mattingly, given that the timing of that turnaround coincided with Hanley Ramirez's return and Yasiel Puig's emergence?
The Braves had the NL's best record for much of the season and won a division that was predicted to be Washington's to take. Those factors likely made an impression with voters, who also watched the Braves overcome injuries and poor performance by some of their highest paid players en route to a division title.
The Cardinals did not get as much national attention as the Pirates or the Dodgers, so perhaps outside of St. Louis, the adversity the Cardinals overcame wasn't as readily obvious. Also, Matheny was likely (even if unfairly) hurt by the expectation here every year is to advance to the postseason. If you look at it that way, Matheny simply did what he was supposed to. Those of us who watched this team closely saw Matheny excel in his management of players. He united a clubhouse with a mix of veterans and rookies, and he fostered an environment that helped so many young players succeed.
Never one to seek acknowledgment, I'm certain Matheny was plenty content with taking the deep postseason run over any award.
I know the chances of this are probably slim, but do you think the Cardinals would consider Craig at third?
-- Allyson L., St. Louis
Craig did play a lot at third during his early years in the Cardinals' farm system, but the organization has no intention of moving him back to the hot corner. For that matter, the Cardinals have no plans for any of their players to transition to new positions next year as Matt Carpenter did this past season. Kolten Wong is not going to be an option at shortstop. Carpenter is not going to try to adapt to short, either. I've gotten several questions about both possibilities, so I wanted to address both of those proposals, too.
One of the reasons the Cardinals worked Craig out of third base in the Minors is that they did not feel he had the defensive ability to stick at the position in the Majors. His range, footwork and reaction were not strong enough at that position to warrant continuing to develop him at third. There's no reason to think those issues would be resolved by a move now, either.
Has there been any internal discussion about sending Lynn back to the bullpen? It seems that he could be a valuable eighth-inning man. It would be easier to pull him to avoid the "big-inning" damage that always seemed to plague him. And it would open up a spot for the higher-upside Martinez.
--Tom G., Sykesville Md.
Certainly, the Cardinals are on track to have too many starters. That is a luxury. Of course, it's impossible to know if all the young pitchers projected to competing for starting jobs now will still be with the club in February, since teams will seek these young arms in any trade.
I would not expect Lynn to transition into the bullpen. While he has had big-inning issues and some emotional fits, he has done nothing to pitch himself out of the rotation. He is a needed workhorse who can give the Cardinals more than 200 innings (something Martinez, for instance, won't be ready to do) and has valuable big league experience. The Cardinals might appear to have a logjam now, but as we saw in 2013, there is no such thing as too much starting depth.
Why was Miller not used as a starter or reliever during the playoffs, including the World Series?
-- Rick B. Harrisburg, Pa.
Miller was left out of the Cardinals' rotation in the NL Division Series primarily for matchup reasons. He went 0-4 with a 5.32 ERA against the Pirates during the regular season. Considering those struggles and how Michael Wacha closed his regular season, and the Cardinals ultimately went with Wacha.
Once the club advanced to the NL Championship Series, Wacha had solidified his place in the rotation and no one else had pitched out of it. The Cardinals were content, and it worked out. By the time the World Series arrived, Miller had endured too long a layoff to be thrown back into a starting role. In other words, it was a combination of circumstances and lack of work that ultimately led to Miller's disappearance.
Why he was not used more prominently out of the bullpen was Matheny's determination. Matheny valued having a long reliever kept fresh and decided early on that would be Miller. An argument could be made that Miller could have been a bullpen asset if used differently, but I don't have the space to get into that.