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

On World Baseball Classic participation and funding

I had an interesting twitter exchange Saturday morning with ESPN’s Buster Olney. It is challenging to have any substantive discussion in 140 characters or less, especially when trying to include some of the previous tweet for context, but it does require one to be succinct. This is how it went.

Olney seemed to make his initial tweet to express disagreement with those who are criticizing MLB players and teams for not participating in/fully supporting the World Baseball Classic.

What I did not realize until we got into the discussion is that apparently MLB is wearing the black hat.

Olney commented that until WBC games are free to attend and have no advertising, players/teams should not be criticized for not wanting to participate.

I pointed out the fact that international baseball benefits from the tourney proceeds.

Background point: According to MLB’s information (which of course could be slanted), from the proceeds of the 2009 WBC, a prize pool of $14 million was distributed to the teams. Another $15 million went to the participating federations and the International Baseball Federation.

Olney asked me if I thought MLB would allow moving the WBC to summer, which is when he believes would be the optimal time to hold the tourney.

I replied no, that charity has its limits.

Background point: The disruption to the Major League season by a summer WBC would be considerable. I am not as sure as he is that summer would be the ideal for MLB, the Japanese and Korean leagues or anyone else involved. Sure, MLB owners would almost certainly lose money by giving up prime summer home dates, but still, this seemed a bit of a strawman argument to me.

Olney said none of it is charity. It is all business.

Background point: Though I did not tweet it, I actually disagree about the WBC not being the recipient of some charity. For example, MLB teams do give up something in allowing their players to participate, though it is not terribly significant as long as no one gets hurt.

I tweeted that I agreed with Olney about player criticism. After all, participation in the event is voluntary. Some players potentially have a lot to lose, especially if their MLB jobs are not secure. My issue with Olney was his concept of the WBC being free.

Background point: Maybe Olney brought it up in the first place because he also knew that a free WBC is not realistic, but then why base his position on it? Perhaps he meant that both points were equally absurd.

My thrust was that WBC ad and ticket revenues ultimately help to fund international baseball. While I highly doubt that MLB is in the WBC (or any other endeavor) to lose money, it only makes sense to generate cash from it, especially when the proceeds are shared with developing baseball nations.

The twitter conversation ended there.

What do you all think?

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110 Responses to “On World Baseball Classic participation and funding”

  1. CariocaCardinal says:

    Does the WBC take in $30 million from ticket rev and ad sales? Are there (international) TV revenues? Does MLB subsidize the event?

    • Brian Walton says:

      I doubt they open the books, but like I said, I imagine that MLB is not in anything to lose money. With the games on MLB Network, who knows where that ad revenue goes?

      That still doesn’t mean the Australian Baseball Federation (or whatever it is called), for example, doesn’t come out way ahead.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        I believe the luxury tax goes in to a fund to promote international baseball development (it doesn’t go to small market/low budget teams as most people think – they could be using some of that money. They may e willing to lose money in the short run if they think it will promote long term profits.

        I agree they probably dont open the books but my point was that $30 million seems like a lot from just ticket sales and ad revenue.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    Buster wants WBC games held in the summer, interrupting the MLB schedule?
    And he wants these summer WBC games to be free admission?
    Maybe Buster should write an essay explaining his vision. Reduced to tweets, these ideas sound wacko.

    • Brian Walton says:

      1. Yes, in summer.
      2. Well, he tied free to player participation. So it seems that yes, if MLB gives up revenue, then he thinks it would be fair to criticize players for not signing up.

      In my opinion, the idea of free admission wouldn’t help, since the WBC games are played in the largest countries where baseball is already established. How would it help baseball in Italy if the finals in San Francisco were free admission? Would more people watch the games on TV if there were no ads?

      But that is my personal interpretation of his tweets.

  3. Brian Walton says:

    Not surprisingly, Buster’s first tweet was apparently to generate interest in his column today, not that there is anything wrong with that.

    “WBC decisions all about self-interest” (ESPN Insider article)

    The whole focus seems to be the revelation that MLB, owners and players act in their own self-interest first. Olney is explaining why to those who apparently do not understand that already. Players should not be criticized/penalized for not participating when MLB and owners do not sacrifice, is the storyline.

    He puts the blame on the owners for not wanting a summer WBC and a post-World Series WBC on the players.

    Yes, he asserts that if the WBC was truly a philanthropic effort, then it would be free.

    He closes by suggesting that it is more important to focus on amateur baseball in the US than on the game internationally.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      The opening of his essay does not provide incentive to subscribe.

      The WBC is pretty good the way it is. Instead of spring training, players can decide to train via WBC participation. Some money is made for the benefit of foreign baseball associations, helping grow the sport outside the US.

      MLB would never do this during mid-season, because it would undercut its own product by alienating MLB fans. So the idea of moving the WBC to mid-season because of MLB’s “self interest” earns a Dunce Cap for Buster.

      • Brian Walton says:

        I am an ESPN subscriber and highly recommend it. Of course, that does not mean I agree with everything written.

        In this case, I am fine with the fundamental thought that players should not be pressured into participating in a voluntary event. Some of the key points asserted in support do not ring true for me, however.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        The essence of the philanthropy in this instance is raising money on behalf of foreign baseball federations via the voluntary participation of athletes.

        It sounds like Buster does not like promoting the playing of baseball, anywhere outside of the United States.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    On strength of the Cards for 2013 is having quite a few promising pitchers at AA/AAA.

    Eduardo N. Sanchez was a hot prospect going into 2011. What if he bounces back?
    Mikail Cleto has arm strength for the majors, what if he improves?
    Seth Maness was pitcher of the year and is back throwing strikes.

    Not too many years ago, the Memphis pitching staff employed many minor league free agents. Now there are quite a few pitchers with potential.
    Since teams always crave pitching, Mo may have trading chips. He traded relievers Luke Gregerson and Mark Worrell for SS Khalil Greene (2009). If the right deal came along, Super Pete, Ronny, and Raffy could find themselves short of playing time.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Wishing you hadn’t brought up Khalil Greene… ;-)

      • JumboShrimp says:

        From Khalil, Mo learned that even super genius TLR can’t fix the damaged insides of a coconut. Also, a horrible haircut could be an external indicator of internal coco problems.

        Today’s reports on Raffy are not encouraging. Realism is being allowed to creep into the mainstream media. No surprise here at the CNblog, we never suspected Raffy would be good to go.

        Yesterday Ronny made errors. In spring training 2008, reporters were in a tizzy about errors by Mitey Cesar. TLR said Cesar will settle down, as indeed came to pass. SS is a difficult position and some errors happen. Ronny has a much better haircut that Khalil and motivation (supplied by Aura). Ronny will be alright.

        It is also helpful to have Super Pete, because the Pride of Owasso is determined and no nonsense. Pete comes ready to play, no noggin problems, the opposite of Khalil.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Not known for exaggeration, Rick Hummel reported this:

          “Ronny Cedeno, signed as a free agent, hasn’t been good at bat, hitting .167 and he made two bad throwing errors on Saturday…”

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Rick’s spring training thoughts did remind me of the panic about whether Cesar could still field during ST 2008. TLR threw cold water on the tizzy and was proved right. Cesar fielded fine during 2008, an upgrade from Eckstein. Cesar was a lousy hitter, but TLR did not promise otherwise.

            For 2013, my prediction is Rick Hummel will get into shape and lift his reporting game, once April rolls around. He looks primed for a break out season on behalf of the Post Dispatch!

            • JumboShrimp says:

              My second guess is Raffy Furcal is going to need a Tommy John operation. A powerful arm has long been critical to Furcal’s game. If he can’t throw any longer, he is going to need the operation.
              Foreseeing this possibility, Mo added Ronny for more depth at SS. Super Pete led us into the playoffs last year and is ready to contribute again. With Ronny and Pete, 2013 looks bright.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        There have been modest press rumors of the Cards asking about SS Troy Tulowitzki. Is this rumor plausible? Of course. Mo hails from Colorado and likes exploring deals with the Rockies. The teams talked about Holliday and Fuentes during 2008, but the Cards were outbid by Billie Beane, from whom they later acquired Holliday.
        Mo explored a lot of SS situations. We talked to Stephen Drew, who landed in Boston. We chatted to Alex Gonzalez. We made an enormous bid on Marco Scutaro. We unearthed Ronny Cedeno. Mo got around. Of course he would have asked about Tulowitzki too.
        Is there any chance of landing Tulowitzki? Sure. Is it a high chance? Probably not. If Tulowitzki were acquirable, he would not be a bargain. Other teams would bid, making Troy expensive to land. Mo likes exploring for impact players, so the rumors could resume. Even the Red Sox have shed big salaries, so maybe the Rockies could decide to do the same. But its not very likely.

  5. Bw52 says:

    Cards have adequate backups at SS should Furcal be unable to play.No need to panic.No need to think about trading a boatload of talent for Tulowitzki either.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I am not panicking, but I believe the Cards are a much better team with a healthy Furcal than without. It is pretty difficult not to second-guess the decision last fall to skip surgery and it is too late now. I agree that chasing Tulo should not be the answer.

      • crdswmn says:

        Yep, Furcal should have had the surgery. I believed that when he first was injured.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Maybe the Cards felt if Furcal had had the operation last September, he would miss much of 2013 anyway, so they were not risking much by trying a strange alternative approach.
        If they offered a huge contract to SS/2Bman Marco Scutaro, the Cards were not highly optimistic about Furcal being playable during 2013.

        • crdswmn says:

          Recovery time for TJ on position players is 6-9 months.

          • Brian Walton says:

            I gave them the benefit of the doubt last fall since they have the medical details we don’t. However, the decision looks very bad now.

            • crdswmn says:

              I wonder sometimes if their “medical details” are all that well informed.

              • Brian Walton says:

                They’ve taken a lot of heat over the years.

                • Nutlaw says:

                  Well, they always seem to go from one day away from great progress to major months long injury status without anything actually happening. I guess that some of it is probably gamesmanship, but if none of us ever believe them, I doubt that player agents and opposing GMs do either. :)

                • JumboShrimp says:

                  Something to bear in mind is the Cards do not have a sniper shooting tranquilizers, who can capture Raffy, tie him up, and carry him off to the TJ surgeon. Any player has a say as regards operations on his body.
                  And Raffy is going to get paid during 2013, whether he is fielding ground balls or lounging around on the DL.
                  Maybe Raffy hates being operated on and has heard good things about a strange alternative treatment. If he prefers the injection treatment, then the Cards can’t compel him to have TJ. Legally, the player probably just needs some kind of rehab approach to uphold his side of a contract. He can’t refuse to try any treatment or the team would have grounds to dissolve the contract. But if he has a rehab gameplan, then the Union would probably support his pursuit of it.
                  Spring training is the time to find out if Raffy’s solution works. If it does not work, then he will have the operation and the timing will be good for a seeking his next contract next December. He is not going to get another multi million dollar contract from any team without getting his elbow fixed. During 2013, there is not the same imperative.

                  • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                    You have a much more serious problem than that……… As long as they keep running the insurance scam………….this will be your future for years to come…………… its business……it works on many different planes of their plan…….. you will eventually see them trade a prospect(s) for a patch……no cash….out of the market flow…..and that’s if they have to!!!!!!!…… enjoy……….

                    • CariocaCardinal says:

                      yes, i do enjoy my team being competitive every year. and the fact they do it not by simply outspending other teams makes it even sweeter.

          • Brian Walton says:

            My short take on the current situation, including Mo’s reaction this morning. He is saying surgery last fall was not an option.

            • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

              The reason that this is bogus??????????? Furcal work hard all winter enough to create a bones spur???? In a scan that shows ligament repair and or tears………. what do you suppose a spur looks like…..Everest???

              They didn’t want to take the spur out at that time because it would weaken the joint???? that’s solid….
              what they knew would happen, happened……….what they did about it ….. is what they did about it…..advanced the farm player and provided a barrel of dry powder………… used to start barbecues.

              This is standard business practice in the corporate world……… this is a hedge fund corp…with captured insurance and the works………. Dodgers partners are a hedge fund……… openly…..

              I would take this down if I were you.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    The situation with Furcal reminds me a little bit of Chris Carpenter who developed elbow pain during an early start in 2007. This is just from memory and could be wrong, but it seemed like the team waited a few months to see if the problem would subside via rest. When Chris resumed pitching, the pain must have returned and then the TJ operation was ordered. The problem of the slow diagnosis was this meant Carpenter would have to miss half of the 2008 season as well.

    It seemed like the Cards had a few iffy medical calls circa 2005-7. The most infamous was Scott Rolen’s shoulder in 2005-7. Rolen lost faith in the team and asked to be traded.
    There was re-signing Mark Mulder to a two year deal after a shoulder operation, when it was questionable that he could still pitch. Mulder could not, it turned out.
    We gave a modest deal to RHP Matt Clement, whose post-op shoulder had nothing left. Brian doubted the wisdom of that contract and was proved right.
    Chris Duncan was not diagnosed with a neck disk injury during 2008, but may have played with pain without telling the doctor.
    Dr. Paletta did perform when he discovered a problem in Trevor Miller’s shoulder, enabling us to offer him a reduced contract. Also, the team discovered a problem with the vision of hotshot Dominican amateur Wagner Mateo during 2009. Wainwright was recognized to need a TJ operation during 2011, no Furcal like injections then.
    Sometimes it was said Albert Pujols had suffered a ligament tear, but he never got a TJ operation, rather a nerve was re-routed.

    During 2012, injuries included Jon Jay separating a shoulder. The choice was rest, not an operation, and Jay returned to play.
    After Jaime Garcia encountered shoulder pain, the solution was again rest. He returned, until coming out of a playoff game with pain. Garcia did not seem ultra confident at Winter Warm Up about 2013 and who can blame him?
    Furcal suffered a partial ligament tear and the recourse was not an operation, but injections to stimulate healing of the ligament. The Cards have claimed the ligament has healed, so Raffy’s pain must owe to a bone spur.

    Any doctor serving a sports team has a tough job, since fans get mad and offer uninformed opinions. It seems like the Cards tend to be conservative in relation to operations. They sometimes prefer rest (Carpenter 07; Jay, Garcia, Furcal 12). Sometimes they bite the bullet on TJ operations with Carp in 07 and Wainwright in 11, but did not do this with Furcal in 12. If Garcia has a labrum injury, they may be deferring an operation as long as possible.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      After doing a bit of research on the Web, it seems like platelet injection is becoming an accepted and common way of treating certain elbow ligament problems. Dodger RHP Billingsley had an injection last season, possibly similar to what was done with Furcal and is supposedly fine this spring.
      Veteran RHP Bartolo Colon was washed up, until his career was resurrected after platelet injection treatments.
      Thus the Cards using this treatment on Furcal was not implausible. The treatment has worked for other folks with other teams. It may start preventing the need for as many Tommy John type surgeries, which would be good for players and teams both.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        After learning more, I have come around to supporting what the Cards did with Furcal.
        If Furcal had had a severed ligament, then he would have needed a transplant (TJ surgery). But he had a partial tear or fraying.
        For fraying, the platelet injection is often effective. Its new and probably a little uncertain as to if healing will take place. It seems like a good idea to try it first. Otherwise, Furcal has to give up a ligament from elsewhere in his body and have it moved into the elbow. Healing a frayed ligament, when it works, seems much preferable. And the Cards think the ligament has healed, so the treatment may have accomplished its objective.
        If his elbow still hurts, perhaps there was an additional problem not detected last fall.
        For now, its good to shut him down and study the elbow some more.

  7. crdswmn says:

    I’m bored out of my mind and there is nothing good on TV. I went looking for a baseball discussion, but no one is talking here or on the main site. I stay away from VEB because they annoy the hell out of me, and Twitter and Cards Talk is crazy land. So I am back here to see if I can get something started.

    Does anyone else think our best move with ss is to go with Kozma for now? I still have doubts about Kozma long term, but I don’t want to trade prospects for some expensive guy like Tulo or God forbid they go after the no glove Asdrubal Cabrera again. (Though I hear the Indians are not looking to make any more deals). I have my doubts about Furcal ever playing effectively for us again, Cedeno is garbage imo, and Ryan Jackson appears to be the new Tyler Greene.

    Thoughts?

    • blingboy says:

      I’m OK with Kozma. Its not like there is a better alternative in house. Jackson must not be the prospect we thought he was.

      • crdswmn says:

        Greg Garcia is looking kind of interesting, but I don’t know where the Cardinals have him on the depth chart.

        If Kozma doesn’t work out, then I don’t know what. I’d love to have JJ Hardy, but don’t know if he would be available or who we would have to give up to get him.

      • blingboy says:

        I have the feeling we are going with Kozma/Cedano whether they work out or not.

        Don’t know much about Garcia. Could be another Jackson.

        • crdswmn says:

          We could always see if the Mariners would give us back Brendan ;)

          Now, I know that wouldn’t happen. The fastidious ones in the clubhouse would have a fit.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Sometimes you have to start the discussion is what I think! ;-)

      I like Hardy, but why would a playoff club in Baltimore trade him?

      It wouldn’t be the first time the Cards acquired someone off the traditional radar. I am not convinced they will make any trade though.

  8. blingboy says:

    IIRC, at some point early in the winter, Westy told us the Cards knew Furcal would not answer, but were spinning it otherwise so as to justify not bucking up for a shortstop.

    That seems less outrageous to me than it did.

    That would mean they have no intention of doing it, and any Tulo inquiries are pro forma only.

    The flaw in that theory would be that it is a one year plan only. The problem will be there again this winter. And I doubt quality shortstops will be cheaper then than now. Unless there is an in-house candidate a year away. Can’t see who.

  9. crdswmn says:

    I’m still interested in the ss discussion, but the media seems to be pushing the idea of the Rangers going after Lohse now that Perez is injured. I wonder if Boras has come down on the price?

  10. JumboShrimp says:

    Who will manage while Matheny is on the DL? Aldrete or Oquendo?

    Neither Cedeno nor Kozma would likely hit well if the full-time SS. Each can probably hit better if sharing the job. Cedeno had his highest OPS in a part time basis last season for the Mets.

    Even before his elbow injury, Furcal slumped and was consigned to 8th in the batting order. He is not a tough hitting act to replace.

  11. blingboy says:

    For anyone interested, here’s a link to the Dallas area article detailing changes in the Rangers front office. They seem to leave Nolan without much to do.

    http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/03/03/4657206/nolan-ryan-could-leave-rangers.html

    I have already seen speculation that Ryan will head over to Houston. Maybe Luhnow will start poaching off the rangers.

  12. blingboy says:

    Bernie is really bashing the Cards over the Furcal situation.

    “Scott Rolen’s shoulder was fine. Mark Mulder’s shoulder was fine. David Freese’s ankles were fine. Jaime Garcia’s shoulder was fine. Chris Carpenter’s elbow was fine. Lance Berkman’s knee was fine. Jon Jay’s shoulder was fine. Matt Holliday’s back was fine.

    Allen Craig’s knee was fine. Brad Penny’s upper back was fine. Kyle Lohse’s forearm was fine. Troy Glaus’s shoulder was fine. Mark De Rosa’s wrist was fine. Khalil Greene’s anxiety level was fine. Kyle McClellan’s elbow was fine.

    Furcal’s elbow would be fine, too.”

    He suggests the Cards medical staff was looking at the wrong elbow. I believe I suggested the same thing months ago.

    • Brian Walton says:

      It is not clear what was recommended by whom, but wasn’t it reported that Furcal himself declined to consider surgery?

      On the wrong elbow comment, come to think of it, I have never seen you and Bernie together. ;-)

      • blingboy says:

        Langosch has a detailed run down in today’s article.

        http://langosch.mlblogs.com/2013/03/04/march-4-q-of-the-day-2/

        She says the Cards med staff did not suggest surgery.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Thanks, Bling. I wonder if Furcal’s version would differ, but whatever; it is what it is.

          I have been chuckling to myself since yesterday about Mo’s comment that no surgeon would recommend surgery. All he needs to do is check with high school kids. Some of them are getting TJS before they actually need it, just to have a stronger ligament going forward! ;-)

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        The huge problem with this is simple………… Furcal could refuse surgery…….. but then he is subject either retirement or other sanctions ………….. believe me, any insurance carriers would have it no other way………… this is just a “vagary’ being thrown around by Cardinal shills………… they could never receive compensation on his injury if he simply refused……. but since they own the company…. they leave responsibility just floating around……………. when you play games like this, your activities come very close to exposure………. Furcal isn’t talking…….Wainwright isn’t talking……its not in their interest to say anything………

        • blingboy says:

          And Carp sure isn’t talking. Perhaps the most intriguing case of all. It’s as if he threatened to talk and the black chopers came for him in the night and now he’s gone. :)

          • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

            Bling, if Furcal was 31, do you think he would have got another opinion?…….. rehabbed on their dollar…before Free Agency ………………..Chris knows how much money he sacrificed for his own coverage……..he is going to collect, not make any waves………… this is just business.

        • CariocaCardinal says:

          Sanctions? Really? Care to elaborate? Not sure whether I should insinuate someone is on meds or is off his meds.

  13. blingboy says:

    from the same article

    “. . .can someone please explain why the touted Ryan Jackson seems to be a non-factor in this equation?”

    I’d like to get some reasonable answer to that as well. If he’s not an MLB calibre SS, so be it. (Not that I’m confident in the Cards org’s proficiency in judging left side infielders lately) Just quit jerking us around.

    • Brian Walton says:

      If you think you are being jerked around, how about Jackson? ;-)

      When he finally got in a game, they put him at first base, which of course, not having played there, he had to borrow a glove. When Jackson finally did get in at short on Saturday, he looked very unsure of himself.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        He looked funny too………………. not like the kid I saw last year………. were they covering a problem here too??????? to avoid a worse appearance of 0 depth?

        • blingboy says:

          I wish I had seen him play more than a cameo. I have nothing at all to go on, other than he reportedly did ok starting all year at Memphis. But there are two things that keep asserting themselves in my thinking about it.

          First, the alternative to Jackson at Memphis was Kozma, the second worst hitter in the PCL, and a player the Cards seemed to have all but given up on.

          Second, the chink in the Cards development system seems to be realistically evaluating left side infielders as they move through the system. And the stubborn refusal to recognize reality in the case of Theriot suggests its a top to bottom issue, not just in the minors.

          So I don’t know about Jackson, other that disagreeing with how he has been treated last September and so far this spring. Let him play himself out of contention and be done with it if he’s not what they thought.

          • crdswmn says:

            Well, D. Goold was telling people on Twitter today that Cardinals coaches and scouts had said Kozma was a better defensive shortstop than Jackson, and that the only reason Kozma played 2B instead of SS in AAA was to get him experience to be a utility player. However, some baseball “experts” (specifically Keith Law that I know for sure) are disputing this. Keith Law tweeted that the Cardinals options at short were Ryan Jackson, and “a couple of guys who can’t play short”. I have seen Law in the past say that Jackson was better than Kozma.

            So either Kozma IS better or he isn’t and the Cardinals want us to believe he is to justify playing him instead of Jackson. If it’s the latter, then Jackson must have pissed somebody off in the organization.

          • Brian Walton says:

            BA has been impressed with the turnaround. One year ago, in the 2012 BA Handbook, Jackson was ranked #13 of 30 Cards prospects. Kozma was unranked. Re Jackson, it said, “Some scouts say he can play defensively in the majors right now.” Jackson was listed as the Cards’ “Best Defensive Infielder” with Kozma ranked as “Best Infield Arm.”

            This year, Kozma is #13 with Jackson #15. Re Jackson: “The Cardinals cleared the way for Jackson to be the starting shortstop at Memphis last summer by shifting Pete Kozma into a utility role. By the time Rafael Furcal hurt his elbow and St. Louis needed a replacement at shortstop. the roles had reversed.”

            That is the way I remembered it too, but only the Cards know what was behind their actions in the initial assignment and later role reversal. I guess the org would re-write the above sentence to say, “The Cardinals cleared the way for Kozma to be the utility player at Memphis last summer by shifting Jackson into the starting shortstop role.” ;-)

            In the new Handbook, Kozma is now listed as the Cards’ “Best Defensive Infielder.”

            Did Jackson digress at short last summer or perhaps the one month of Kozma playing short every day in the majors was enough to elevate the defensive and offensive views of him? While Jackson was the primary SS at Memphis, Kozma made 43 starts at short while there, too.

            (Our 2012 rankings also had Jackson #13 with Kozma #35. This year, we have Jackson at #15 and Kozma at #29. Either skeptical about 2012 or slow to react.)

            A couple of months ago at Winter Warm-Up, the team’s message was that Jackson is better at positioning, but Kozma is quicker, so is a better defender. Neither has shown enough offense to be a starting shortstop in the majors.

            • blingboy says:

              It sounds like the BA guy understands the Cards middle infield prospect situation about as well as the Cards do. The whole thing is oddly disturbing.

              At least TCN ranking has been the sober voice of reason.

            • JumboShrimp says:

              “Neither has hit well enough to be a starting SS in the majors.” This does not sound right. Jackson had an OPS of about 730 last season at Memphis, an impressive rookie campaign in the PCL. This is good enough to quality as a ML starter at SS.

              But we have more options on him and few on Kozma. Jackson can go back to AAA for another year of training. He still has fine promise and should have a big 2013 at AAA.

              • Brian Walton says:

                The assessment came from the team’s general manager.

                • JumboShrimp says:

                  The team is in the PR business, so offers various spins. The reality is a bit more complicated. They have three shortstops, so try to say something nice about each. Furcal could be said to be an established veteran.
                  Since Kozma seized the job, something nice needs to be said, so he is now claimed to be a strong fielder.
                  Jackson is said to be well positioned. It could be said Jackson is a promising hitter.
                  Mo would not say neither man has hit well enough to be a ML shortstop. That sounds like a paraphrase. Mo would not want to say this about any position player, because an adverse opinion about Cardinals employees.
                  Mo might instead say neither Kozma nor Jackson have had a chance to establish himself at the ML level. This would be true, so Mo could have said this.
                  Jackson is an excellent SS prospect. He will gain more experience at AAA, building on a very fine debut during 2012.. The Cards are blessed to have two defensively capable SSes on the cusp of the major leagues.

                  • Brian Walton says:

                    Jumbo, your reaction was as I expected. You can be in denial all you want, but do not question my reporting in the process. I have Mo’s words recorded. He said it to an audience of several hundred people at WWU as I shared it then (subscriber article) and now.

                    Those spin doctors have nothing on you!

                    P.S. I updated the initial remark above slightly, as his actual words were that neither shortstop has shown enough offense to be a major league starter, rather than not hit enough. (Very close to the same meaning, but slightly different words.) As I noted above, it came at the end of a segment in which he had already highlighted their various strengths. Closing by also mentioning where they need to improve did not seem unusual to me at all.

                    An interesting side point. Mozeliak does not do his main tent session at WWU in the main room, but instead does it in a smaller banquet room, despite the fact that fewer people can attend and many are turned away. A big reason why is that ballplayers are in the large room from morning until night signing autographs, which could lead to some uncomfortable reactions when he speaks frankly about personnel.

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      There is something a bit odd within Mo’s statement and it may mask a bit of inside baseball.

                      Ryan Jackson has had 3.5 full seasons as a pro. He has been durable. 2010-12 were successful offensively. As AAA rookie, Jackson made better contact than Colby Rasmus (averaging .272 to Colby’s .251). Jackson’s OPS of 730 was better than anything Brendan Ryan did at Memphis. Jackson is a very strong prospect, the reason Brian expected him to claim playing time after Furcal’s injury.

                      Jackson is a sure shot ML starter in due course. He was the best regarded high school SS of 2006, the best regarded college SS going into 2009, when he slumped, tumbling from circa round 2 to 5 in the draft. He has probably been put on a nutrition and strengthening program by the Cards that have enabled him to be become a stronger hitter than during 2009. He has soft hands, fields well. Between 2006-9, he was an elite amateur and since that time he has been a success in the minors. There is six years consistent history of excellent play. His ML future is bright.

                      With Kozma around, there is a rookie logjam at SS. If Furcal were healthy, Pete would have made a better fit as utility guy during 2013 to backup Furcal and platoon with Descalso, while Jackson collected a second season at Memphis playing everyday. With Furcal out of action and with Kozma feeling his oats, the Cards have set up a Kozma/Cedeno job sharing program at SS for 2013, with Jackson continuing to play everyday at AAA.

                      It would be fair for Mo to say Kozma has not hit enough at AAA to warrant the team planning on him serving as everyday SS. Since Kozma is getting the nod over Jackson, some will then assume this implies Jackson has not hit well enough in the minors to qualify as an everyday SS. Yet this is not so clear.

                      If Kozma had not been drafted and were not around, then Cedeno and Jackson could compete for and share SS. Its because we have a logjam of SS talent, we can afford to be patient with Jackson and let him have a second year of AAA training.

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      Put another way, fans are typically going to assume a better prospect will be given precedence. In this instance, because we have been planning on a veteran/rookie split at SS (either Furcal or Cedeno with Kozma), we have given first shot to the guy with fewer remaining option years (Kozma) over the higher upside talent (Jackson), who will get more developmental training.

                      During 2014, we could have Jackson and Kozma share SS, both by then more capable to carry the load, without help from a mentor like Furcal or Cedeno.

    • Nutlaw says:

      Well, if Carpenter turns out to be able to play second base, maybe Descalso could man short and keep Jackson/Cedeno/Kozma away from a starting job?

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