John is here!
John, has there been a concerted effort from within the organization to build up the farm system? How long has that effort been going on?
Yes. I would say dating back to really 2003 is when we took a hard look at how our minor league system was working or not working. We had closed down our Latin American operations and at that point, we made an effort that we needed to build from within. We reasserted ourselves in Latin America and really looked at how we did in the draft.
Are you a math guy or do you have people in the organization for that stuff? And if so, how much do you have to trust them that what they're telling you is correct?
I have a great appreciation for math but I haven't been trained in it. Having said that, when you work in baseball, there is an evolution in baseball over the last 10 years you understand what's going on, but you have to have a high level of confidence in the tool. Fortunately for us, we have some very smart people here and I have confidence in what they're doing.
John, how hard has it been to balance both the building up of the farm system and getting younger players time in the bigs, while also building a contender with veteran players at the major leage level?
It's an interesting question is trying to maintain success at the major league level by giving young players an opportunity. For us, to maintain that balance, we've been fortunate to retain the right free agents, going out and making trades and using our minor league system in a multitude of ways, getting that high end player as well as the filler.
With Matt Adams Returning fron arm injury, what happens if he posts really good numbers? and how do you get him AB's at the major league level. He didn't look to be to far from ready in his short stint last year.
I definitely think it will be a trick to get him playing time. No doubt Mike Matheny has his challenges. I don't think Matt has a ton to prove at AAA, so hopefully we can find a way to get him some major league at bats.
In the article posted on ESPN.com today you mentioned that the Cardinals have their own WAR formula. Without giving away too much, how is it different? Do you include or exclude certain statistical components, or is it more representative of everything the organization does for player evaluations (i.e., do you try to quantify a scout's subjective evaluation and include that number in the formula)?
The simplest way to answer that, with our internal metrics that we use and have developed does bank in somethings that traditional numbers don't have. But I can't go into too much detail, because it is our version of the secret sauce.
John, do you have to fully understand how each advanced baseball metric is created to know how to use them? Or if you just understand the basics of a stat, for instance a high WAR means a player is well above average, you find that OK?
I certainly feel the more you understand about the output of a metric, it's more valuable. There are times where you don't care how the sausage is made, you just want it to be good. But having an understanding of what's going on and why is beneficial.
what would you say is the biggest change that you've tried to make with the team since taking over 5 years ago?
From a high level, it was really integration of baseball and the business side. Making that work together. Having the unity of both sides has allowed us to be more successful from marketing and a business model. Understanding and utilizing our scouting department to the fullest. Encouragint the department to grow. The amateur world has changed over the last five years and we've been able to change with it.
Thanks for taking the time John! Where do you see Shelby Miller and Oscar Tavares starting the season? Also, with the rotation effectively full if guys are healthy, has the organization considered putting Shelby and T Rosenthal in the bullpen to get them major league experience while prepping them for a starting role in years to come? Or would you rather they stay down on the farm to continue to get a starter's workload?
Difficult question to answer in early February. With Oscar, I think position players need to play everyday. I don't think he would benefit from being a bat off the bench. He needs to get at bats, wherever it is. I'm not opposed to having somebody work out of the bullpen, especially to get big league experience. You can see some value having a young pitcher out of the bullpen. Shelby's goal will try to make the big leagues in whatever role he can. We certainly won't tell him he can't do that if it's available to him.
What is the plan with our Rotation and have you considered a 6 man Rotation to give injury prone players such as Carpenter and Garcia a break?
As far as a six man rotation, we've never been big advocates of that. I think our guys like working on regular rest. Most of our guys like to have that regular routine. We have to be prepared for injuries. But we do have depth, should we need someone to step in and start.
Do you agree with the new forced slotting system in MLB or did you prefer the system two years ago?
I do like the new system in terms of it gets players out earlier and gets them playing. Having said that, part of our success is having the flexibility to where we could decide where we can use our resources. But now we are somewhat limited. There are new questions for us, but as we learn and try to take the most advantage of the system that we can. When you look at last year's draft, we were able to stretch the draft a little bit. We understood the old model well and it was comfortable, but we have to make adjustments with the new version.
John, Do you feel the answer long-term at shortstop is currently in the organization or will you have to bring in somebody from outside the organization?
Another great question, and the answer is I don't know. When you look at what we have at middle infield depth, Kozma, Jackson, etc., one of them could end up separating themselves and could be an every day SS, but if that doesn't happen, we will have to explore other options.
What are the chances we see a Jaime Garcia like we saw a couple years ago? Is he finally healthy?
I'm bullish on where he is, but there are certainly medical questions coming in. He didn't finish the season healthy. He did rehab instead of surgery. We're hopeful that he will be the Jaime of a couple of years ago. If he is, we'll have a strong rotation.
The Cardinals have certainly had a lot of success with the amateur draft and Latin America, but is there anything in the works for the Cardinals to have a stronger presence in Asia?
It's not something we ignore, but it's not something we put a lot of resources to. One of our principles is if we do something, we do it right. We wanted to have success in Latin America and other places before we jumped to another area. As far as trying to really grasp what's going on in Asia, we have a foundation for it. We are not putting a lot of resources in the Asian market rightn ow.
What would you say are the 2 biggest question marks coming into spring training?
I think it has to be centered around health. Where are Carpenter and Garcia. Clearly we need one of them to be healthy to be successful. Also, where Furcal is at short will play into how our team is. We won't know for sure until we get into that game setting. If he's healthy and shows up in great shape, that will answer a question going into spring training. I will say that the way our bullpen ended the season, I feel good about that. And if you look at our everyday position players, most of them are accounted for.
Thank you for your time. Great questions. Hoepfully, we'll get to see you around the ballpark this year.