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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Astros improving while Cardinals winning less in minors

It was a random Sunday tweet from a Houston Astros follower, destined to be lost among the volumes of Twitter noise – except I couldn’t forget it.

“All Astros farm teams at .500 or better. Hasn’t happened in a long time.”

Player development is the main priority in all organizations, but playing winning baseball is important, too.

Of course, it would be ridiculous to declare victory this early for new Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow. It will require more than two months to repair years of damage. It takes time to fill a player pipeline that was short of impact talent.

Still, winning records indicate progress.

Back here, with the system that Luhnow played a major hand in building, the four full-season Cardinals minor league clubs are not doing as well. Injuries in St. Louis and below exposed gaps that had to be filled with in-season minor league free agent signees. Other players had been pushed ahead before ready with some subsequently backtracked.

Actually, Houston’s Double-A Corpus Christi club slipped below .500 when they lost to Springfield on Sunday, but the big picture is quite telling. In aggregate, the Cardinals are roughly 20 games under, while the Astros are about 20 games over. Though three clubs are close, none of St. Louis four full-season farm clubs currently have a winning record. Two affiliates are facing double-digit deficits in their respective divisional standings.

Full-season minor league records as of June 3, 2012, St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros

Triple-A St. Louis Houston
Pac Coast Stgs Team W L PCT GB PCL Stgs Team W L PCT GB
Am North 4 of 4 Memphis 20 37 0.351 13.5 Am South 1 of 4 Okla. City 34 23 0.596
Texas TL
North 3 of 4 Springfield 27 28 0.491 4 South 3 of 4 Corpus Christi 27 28 0.491 6
South T2 of 6 Palm Beach 26 30 0.464 18 South T2 of 5 Lancaster 30 27 0.526 1
Midwest Sally
Western 4 of 7 Quad Cities 28 29 0.491 7 Southern 4 of 7 Lexington 31 25 0.554 8.5
Totals 101 124 0.449 122 103 0.542

60 percent of the full-season schedule remains, as does the Draft and the entire short-season campaign, so there is plenty of time to see improvement in the respective records.

That is a good thing. I think.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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31 Responses to “Astros improving while Cardinals winning less in minors”

  1. blingboy says:

    Finally the offense came up with enough to overcome a pen that stinks like rotten fish. Scrabble got the win. Nice job. A-hem.

    Last night, Freeman and Cueto came on to relieve Westbrook who had struggled but kept us in the game. Combined, they let 3 cross the plate in one inning.

    If the injury problem eases up, it will help our O and D, but the pen will need another kind of help. Dickson, Fick, Cueto, Freeman, nothing impressive there.

    Obviously, it will help if we get starters going deep, but the pen doesn’t need much time to do a lot of damage.

    I thought Yadi didn’t look too comfortable in the cleanup spot. Pressing too much I guess. Freese doesn’t look right at the plate either.

    On the other hand, it was fun to see Freese’s between the legs handoff from his glove to his throwing hand, followed shortly by Dan’s no-hands shuffle to get the speedy runner.

    Let’s see if we can beat up on the Stros and their front office raiding GM.

  2. WesPowell says:

    Darn good win today. What’s been going on lately is going to happen sometime every year, to one degree or another. The team just has to keep fighting. Last year we had a 3-12 stretch in June, scoring a total of 29 runs in the 12 losses, 4 of them shutouts.

  3. CariocaCardinal says:

    Of the 1000 or so post Brian has made on this blog (what is the current count?), this is one of the most baffling I’ve seen. I have really no idea what point is trying to be made. We are being compared to Houston because of Luhnow – who has had almost no time to have any impact on which players are on these full season squads?

  4. Nutlaw says:

    I’d point to the largest difference in records, Triple A, and state that the Cardinals’ major league club’s injuries have required them to raid the heck out of Memphis. However, it’s not as though the ‘Stros are fielding a particularly veteran team, themselves.

  5. blingboy says:

    Three college players so far. More stats than high schoolers. Kinda surprised the Stanford 3B was still there for the supplemental pick.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Wacha is a non-controversial pick, expected to go about 10th, fell to 19th.

      The choice at 23 will drive some young fans crazy. Ramsay is a senior, so the Cards will save money by holding down his bonus. Ramsay was the highest rated college senior going into the draft, IIRC. He was ACC player of the year and can hit for average. The draft day value of seniors has gone up, given the way bonus money is now capped.

      Leading the Midwest League in slugging, Colin Walsh went to Stanford. Walsh is a smart guy, with a masters in engineering. Piscotty also studied engineering at Stanford. We must like well rounded athletes. Walsh hit 6 HRs his junior season, IIRC, while Piscotty hit 5.

      Wisdom at 52 is going to upset some fans. Love the pick of the left swinging catcher, Bean, at 59; he replaces Robert Stock, who did not pan out at catcher.

  6. blingboy says:

    I thought that pitcher Appel was supposed to go first but he slid to 8th, I think. Has anyone seen anything on the reason for that?

    • Brian Walton says:

      $$$, Boras. Yet another reminder of just how far off pre-draft predictions can be. Not that I could do better; I don’t even try.

    • crdswmn says:

      There were comments from some media people on Twitter last night that Appel was not happy with his selection (team or number, or both) and had refused to talk to Pittsburgh media.

      Apparently he wanted to go to Houston.

      • Brian Walton says:

        My uninformed guess is that he wanted first-pick money. Houston has that.

        • blingboy says:

          From the Pittsburgh newspaper, beginning with Appel’s statement released through the Pirates:

          “I’m currently concentrating on winning a national championship and finishing my academic endeavors at Stanford. I will address the possibility of a professional career in due time.”

          Ouch. Sounds like crdswmn is right.

          Then, a couple things that shed light on how the new system works:

          “The Pirates have $6.56 million to spend on their picks in the first 10 rounds, a figure assigned to them by MLB. The eighth slot was assigned a value of $2.9 million. . . . .
          If they exceed their pool by more than 5 percent, they would lose a first-round draft pick in the 2013 draft. Exceeding it by so much as a nickel eliminates them from receiving picks forfeited from other teams that exceed their pools. Those picks will be distributed via lottery.”

          Read more:

        • blingboy says:

          Luhnow might have first pick money, but it seems he didn’t want to risk losing next year’s first round pick if he spent it on Scotty’s client. He is more confident that the other guy will sign for the slotted money I take it. He must also figure on getting a high pick next year. A reasonable assumption.

  7. blingboy says:

    There are some comments on the main site comparing Piscotty to “Wallace and Cox”.

    Forget Piscotty, I hadn’t realized Cox had become comparable to Wallace. Is contract boy seen as a lost cause? Surely it hasn’t come to that already. (I don’t know how closely the commenters in question follow the goings on, of course.)

    • Brian Walton says:

      From a “pure hitter,” a .200 average, three HR and 10 RBI over two months tends to dampen excitement.

    • crdswmn says:

      Ah yes, the fan “experts”. I lurked on VEB last night, and there was much consternation there as well. I don’t know why the FO doesn’t consult these people before they pick, it is clear they are smarter than everyone else. Well, that’s what they say anyway. Of course, these same people were ready to storm the Cardinal bastille over Kolten Wong last year too.

      Personally, I think the draft is a crap shoot. You win some, you lose some. I don’t get my panties in a wad over it.

      • blingboy says:

        I’m so glad your panties are not in a wad. I hate it when that happens.

        I agree the new guy is a crap shoot, we will have to see what happens. But now I am worried contract boy won’t pan out. Defensive questions, then trouble with higher level pitching. Injury issues. Not that he is a fit for any of the needs right now. I guess it proves the point.

        Lets get Wacha signed so we can clammor for him to be called up and save us.:)

        • crdswmn says:

          I hate it too.

          Bling, just take solace in the fact that there will be no more contract boys since MLB has outlawed giving major league contracts to draft picks. As for our current contract boy, there is still time for him to turn it around. If not, maybe we can con the Padres into taking him in a trade. They seem to like our castoffs.

          • blingboy says:

            Right, but I was thinking the Astros. But I’m sure they would want us to take Wallace back for him.

            I have been rather out of the loop due to an onerous schedule, but was taken aback to see him lumped in with Wallace. As you say, there is time.

  8. crdswmn says:

    Funny story from last night. Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus was scheduled to appear on KMOX at 10:30 to discuss the Cardinals’ draft picks. KMOX failed to call him. Goldstein tweeted about this and some Cardinals fans were upset about it because they really wanted to hear his thoughts. He decided to call and discuss the draft with a random Cardinal fan on Twitter and several tweeted him. He picked one and got his phone number and called him. The fan then tweeted Goldstein’s comments out to everyone. One fan contacted KMOX about the issue and Goldstein later tweeted that KMOX had apparently messed up his phone number and called the wrong number. They apologized to him, but had already booked the show and couldn’t get him on.

    Goldstein’s comments were basically that Cardinal fans should be happy with the picks. He really likes Piscotty and Wacha, said Wisdom was a little of a reach and that Bean might be difficult to sign.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Funny. Thanks for sharing.

    • crdswmn says:

      Here are Goldstein’s “official’ comments on Wacha and Ramsey.

      19. St. Louis Cardinals: Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M
      When doing the mock draft on Sunday night, it was hard to find a home for Wacha. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, but in the end, there really wasn’t a home for him. This is a great find for St. Louis at 19, but he won’t be an easy sign here, which likely led to their selection four picks later.

      23. St. Louis Cardinals: James Ramsey, OF, Florida State
      While the Cardinals where surely happy to get Wacha, it forced a budget-conscious pick here. Ramsey has no weakness, but just average to slightly-above tools across the board. His makeup gives him a chance to exceed scouting expectations.

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