Sunday was the 8th Annual Blogger Day at Busch Stadium. Like the previous years, President of Baseball Operation John Mozeliak and Team President Bill DeWitt III spoke with us. Here’s the highlights:
Mozeliak feels good about where the team is at and that they will be competitive. Depth is one of the most exciting parts of the team.
On Adam Wainwright‘s Elbow: The team isn’t worried; if it happened later in the season, they would have had him pitch through it. They have depth to DL him and having the 10-day DL makes it easy. He’ll only miss a start or 2.
On the season length: The season keeps feeling longer each year. It’s hard on the players. He and the DeWitts would consider it; 154 would be ideal and we’d see nothing below that. He does anticipates no changes at this time.
On Carson Kelly: they wanted him to play every day; he said Kelly “took a step backward last year” after his promotion. They have depth at catcher in system and specifically mentioned Andrew Knizner; they have options for down the road.
On the coaching staff changes: He wouldn’t talk negatives at this time. The narratives from last season were base running and defense; both of which have shown improvement. He feels the coaches take too much heat for this stuff and players needs as much responsibility as coaches.
Coaching is part art, part science. He mentioned Tyler Lyons and his subpar appearance on Saturday: analytically, he should have succeeded as he faced 3 lefties in 4 at bats. If Mike Matheny doesn’t have the right tools, that falls on him and the front office.
He also mentioned there isn’t public info of what’s going on with players – pitching availability, player attitudes, etc.
On pace of play: He believes there is tension between players association and MLB; there is no line in the sand with players though. Players don’t want long games either. Players want changes that don’t impact their day to day job – a la pitch clock, strike zone changes, etc. He, along with the front office, are all for quicker games.
On his job change: As the GM, he was in the details of running the team; he’s trying to let Mike Girsch do more of that. He has struggled to step back; it hasn’t been an easy transition, but that’s on him and not Girsch.
On Jordan Hicks: He met with Yadier Molina and Matheny after a Hicks spring training start; Yadi said “Let me take hold of this wheel and see what we have”. Since Yadi can get most out of pitchers, they went with it. They expect great things. He also addressed K Rate; he compared Hicks to Aroldis Chapman and looked at BB and K rates. Hicks has a much lower BB rate than Chapman did early on, but he needs to learn how to get swings and misses; he believes that Yadi will help with that. Hicks chance to be special, but he doesn’t know if he’ll be starter or reliever in long run. He knew Hicks was something special after watching in Peoria.
He also joked about promoting him was just “Mo being cheap” with the bullpen. He knew that Hicks would make an impact; he didn’t think it would be this fast, along he didn’t think it would be that long either.
On Jose Martinez: there was a pinch hit at bat against Chapman that stuck out with Mo and Matheny; Martinez didn’t look overwhelmed. They thought they had something special with him then, although they didn’t want to make that opinion from 2 at bats.
On catcher depth: they have no thoughts of moving any of their catchers. They have more value as catcher than any other position due to their unique skill set. If a bat works, they’d consider it; Knizner was an example of a guy who could hit as a first baseman. They don’t want to “devalue assets” though; it’s easy to move a catcher to first base, but it’s too hard to take a first baseman and move him to catcher.
On spin rates: As an organization, they are trying to create a curriculum for pitcher. Hicks strength is ground balls and they encourage him to embrace it. They are investing in pitching lab in Jupiter for the off-season to work on improving their pitching. There will be a brick and mortar building to replace individual “coaches/specialists”.
On Wainwright to bullpen: Asked if the bullpen easier than starting? He talked of stress of up and down, pitching back to back days vs every 5th, etc. Wainwright sees himself as a starter. He also doesn’t know what role Wainwright would have. He likes the current competition in the bullpen. He never thought they’d sign Greg Holland back in February. They were bullish on Bud Norris, but with him, Holland, and Luke Gregerson, they have some really good options.
Jack Flaherty deserves to be in the Majors, but who goes out to move Wainwright. They have good depth in pitching.
On Alex Reyes: They don’t have to answer questions about him until June 1, but they are already thinking about it. His rehab will be as a starter. His ultimate position will be dictated by where their biggest need is when he comes back at. Adding him to 60-day DL kept them from making a knee jerk reaction if there was an early season need.
STL Hat Trick has the full video of Mozeliak.
DeWitt III kept more to the business side and there was less newsworthy material.
On the stadium changes: They wanted to make an area for the people that wanted to socialize at the games, so they created the Budweiser Terrace. It features 2 bar areas and an open flame grill featuring sausages, chicken legs, and shrimp skewers. They’ll also have $5 Busch drafts until first pitch.
They also added the 1764 Craft Pub, where us “beer snobs” can find local craft beer offerings. DeWitt III said the location of the Craft Pub was one of the most visually unappealing in the stadium; the area is now lit up and looks better with this added. They have beer from Schlafly, Urban Chestnut, 4 Hands, Charleville, and O’Fallon.
On Ballpark Village: Professional sports franchises come to BPV to tour it and see what has worked. They will have part one of Phase 2 completed next July, which will be the office building and parking garage. Part 2 will be a few months after that, which includes more retail shops. The final part will be the housing complex with more parking, which is expected to be completed in 2 years, due to the fact it’s going to be a higher building than the offices.
On pace of play: DeWitt III is all for speeding the game up. He’s a fan of the way the game was in the ’80s and would like to see if head back that way. It drives him nuts to see guys adjusting batting gloves and go through little routines between each pitch.
On blue hats: He’s a traditionalist with uniforms and doesn’t want to be an organization that has a new look every week. He’s went as far as saying he’s not a fan of the logos with stars or camouflage for holidays. The one thing they are considering is a special “powder blue”, ’80s style jersey with the modern logo on it; he said they look sharp and might do a fan vote to see what the public thoughts are.
The event wasn’t limited to the Q&A; the team features some of the new food available. The already mentioned sausage and shrimp were a hit, as was the Coca-Cola Pulled Pork Tacos. I’d highly recommend tracking them down. I was also a fan of the bacon wrapped hot dog.