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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Noble: Wigginton brings chase for champagne to Cards

Uhh…shouldn’t the Cards be looking for someone who brings the chase for Crystal Light Mocktails instead?

General manager John Mozeliak said, after his staff had done its due diligence, “We found nothing negative about him.”

Gary LaRocque, one of Mozeliak’s assistants, who signed Wigginton with the Mets, “was a huge advocate,” Mozeliak said. That Wigginton plays the game with a “get out of my way” approach is an influence seen as positive. Catchers beware. Second basemen, too. He’s comin’. Yadier Molina, recalling a collision with his new colleague in Pittsburgh a few years ago, groaned and grimaced. Wigginton smiled, even though Molina held the ball.

“If that’s why they were interested in me, that’s fine,” Wigginton said. “I’m glad they were interested in me. I was always interested in them. It seems like they always do things right here, and they’re always in it. They make good decisions, they have good people. They play the game right. I know George Kissell [the Cardinals’ late Minor League instructor] ... People talked about him like he was a genius.

“This will be real baseball here. I’ve always liked the way the Cardinals play, and now I’m one of them.”

Pass the champagne please.

Repoz Posted: February 19, 2013 at 06:11 AM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals

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   1. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: February 19, 2013 at 08:18 AM (#4371707)
How out of shape is Ty Wigginton? The article doesn't even bother saying he's in the best shape of his life.

In fact, the first sentence of TFA is about stretch marks.
   2. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: February 19, 2013 at 09:12 AM (#4371714)
He was a fat tub of worthless goo for the Phils last year. If he plays at 3B, be prepared to laugh to keep from crying.
   3. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 19, 2013 at 09:57 AM (#4371727)
i take this as a hopeful sign that the cards management are now consuming 'make me stupid' elixir in mass quantities

   4. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 19, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4371731)
In Ty Wigginton's best season he hit .285/.350/.526 with 4 steals and 6 CS. Now that he's on the Cardinals he will probably hit .295/.360/.546 with 4 steals and 0 CS.
   5. salvomania Posted: February 19, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4371732)
I just don't get this deal for the Cardinals, bringing in a declining no-defense backup corner IF/OF who hits more like a MIF.

But this being the Cardinals, he'll probably put up an .820 OPS with 300 plate appearances spread over 5 positions.

EDIT: Or what Crispix said.
   6. Spahn Insane Posted: February 19, 2013 at 10:17 AM (#4371735)
i take this as a hopeful sign that the cards management are now consuming 'make me stupid' elixir in mass quantities

It'll have to be in large enough quantities to offset the excellent farm system and the inherent sh1tting of magical pixie dust that occurs whenever a player puts on a Cardinal uniform, but it's a step in the right direction.
   7. Esoteric Posted: February 19, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4371746)
the inherent sh1tting of magical pixie dust that occurs whenever a player puts on a Cardinal uniform, but it's a step in the right direction
As much as I hate hate HATE to admit it (especially after said pixie dust ended up all over the Nationals' face last postseason), you kind of have to wonder whether there isn't something more substantial going on here. We already acknowledge that Dave Duncan seems to be able to work career-reviving wonders with a certain type of veteran pitcher; why isn't it possible that the rest of their training and coaching staff have a knack for drawing the same sort of hidden value out of their position players?

Nah, it's probably just La Russa's leftover stash of PEDs, is what it is.
   8. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 19, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4371757)
You see the same phenomenon with the Yankees. I'm sure that part of it is good coaching, but I think it's also that success breeds success. These players are joining good teams with great track records, and the overall level of excellence might allow the new players to relax and play with more confidence.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2013 at 11:13 AM (#4371776)
“We found nothing negative about him.”


Well, sign him up then! I assume there are some positives...right?
   10. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4371779)
You see the same phenomenon with the Yankees. I'm sure that part of it is good coaching, but I think it's also that success breeds success. These players are joining good teams with great track records, and the overall level of excellence might allow the new players to relax and play with more confidence.


Well, that didn't exactly work for the Red Sox. I think it's a combination of coaching and setting the parameters in which excellence is expected from players, including role models for how the organization does business. I'd love to see more study of that, both anecdotal and data-driven.
   11. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 19, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4371785)
You see the same phenomenon with the Yankees. I'm sure that part of it is good coaching, but I think it's also that success breeds success.


I don't think it's anything more difficult than some teams are smarter than others. Obviously the Cardinals are capable of making a mistake but maybe they just simply do a better job of recognizing how to get the most out of a player. Whether it's the scouting reports or a stat-based approach they are presumably seeing something that makes them think these players will work out.

For example, with the pitchers I assume that the Cards have simply identified certain criteria that is going to make pitchers respond to what Duncan is doing. They probably aren't sharing that criteria and it may not be evident to us but I have no doubt that it's more than "let's get a guy and have him work with Dave and it'll be OK."
   12. phredbird Posted: February 19, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4371796)
the Cardinals are capable of making a mistake


andres galarraga
tino martinez
royce clayton
brett tomko

i'm sure i could think of some others.
   13. Tricky Dick Posted: February 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4371803)
Well, when I think of championships, the first name that comes to mind is Ty Wigginton.
   14. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 19, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4371811)
Obviously the Cardinals are capable of making a mistake but maybe they just simply do a better job of recognizing how to get the most out of a player. Whether it's the scouting reports or a stat-based approach they are presumably seeing something that makes them think these players will work out.


I don't know why it has to be an a priori assessment. It seems equally likely to me that the Cardinal organization does a good job of maximizing potential production, and that their approach would benefit most players.

If they get anything positive out of Ty Wigginton, though, it'll be the greatest miracle since Jesus walked on the water.
   15. Ron J2 Posted: February 19, 2013 at 12:40 PM (#4371853)
#11 I can't quite explain the type of pitcher that the Alou/Kerrigan were consistently successful with, but it's something along the line of guys who were not quite good enough to be pure power pitchers but had pretty decent stuff. For instance Jeff Fassero was trying to get by with a B fastball when they got him.

I suspect it's something similar with Duncan. There has to be something to work with.
   16. Squash Posted: February 19, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4371867)
I suspect it's something similar with Duncan. There has to be something to work with.

When he was with the A's, Duncan's first move was pretty much always to teach the veteran pitcher some variant of the splitter/forkball since it was an easy pitch to learn to throw competently. I don't know if this is still on the docket. It sounds like a story similar to the Alou/Kerrigan pitcher you're talking about - a veteran guy with decent stuff but whose stuff wasn't good enough to just throw it over the plate, and needed some misdirection that the forkball provided.
   17. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: February 19, 2013 at 01:13 PM (#4371878)
I read this headline as "The Noble Wigginton Brings Champagne to Cards".
   18. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: February 19, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4371892)
I read this headline as "The Noble Wigginton Brings Champagne to Cards".
   19. bjhanke Posted: February 19, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4371897)
The Cardinals do have good coaches, and have had since Whitey Herzog came around. But the other thing that they have had is a front office that actually listens to the coaches. Dave Duncan, for example, based his approach to coaching pitchers almost entirely on the premise that pitchers should quit throwing the four-seam fastball, which registers higher on the radar gun, but rises, leading to homers, and go with the two-seamer, which is slower, but sinks, producing ground balls. The organization would pick up guys who were failing with their four-seamers and let Dave teach them.

They also have Jose Oquendo, who was a tremendous defensive player at almost any position, is a terrific third base coach, speaks both English and Spanish fluently (a vastly underrated skill in today's game), and who has been there since the Herzog days. He keeps applying for manager jobs but not getting them. I don't know why. I'd hire him as soon as he walked in the door. But as of now, he's still the Cardinal third base coach in charge of teaching defense. Skip Schumacher could only play 2B at all because Jose taught him. This year, he's converting Matt Carpenter to a 2B, because the Cards don't really have a starter there. Other teams can't make those conversions because they don't have Oquendo.

They also have a tendency to keep their own retired players as coaches, because they know the organization and its approaches. Mark McGwire, for example. When his reputation was at its lowest, they hired him to coach hitting. Turns out that PEDs weren't anything like all there was to Mac. According to all accounts, he was an excellent hitting coach, even for guys who were not power hitters of any kind. The poster boy for this is Red Schoendienst. Red, believe it or not, is still coaching for the Cards, at the age of 90. He actually holds the odd record for most seasons wearing a MLB uniform (because Connie Mack dressed in suits). And he will still spend whatever time his body will give him cheerfully hitting fungoes to rookies or showing rookies the fundamentals of defense (Red was an outstanding defensive player in the 1940s and 1950s).

They have also had a policy, under the current GM and also his predecessor, of not spending the entire payroll budget before the season starts. They wait until August or so to see who got hurt or fell apart where. Then they still have the money to cover the hole with a rental veteran. And they are not afraid to pick up an old hitter who was once great but now has injury issues, and get a lot of help in the games he is able to play. Lance Berkman, followed by Carlos Beltran. They know those guys aren't going to play 150 games, but the combination of their production and what they get out of whoever plays when they get hurt is going to be a quality outfielder or 1B or whatever.

It doesn't hurt that they have good taste in managers. Their last three, before Mike Matheny (retired Cardinal who was a Gold Glove catcher) were Whitey, Joe Torre, and Tony. They find these guys and they keep them; no manager roulette. As a consequence, a stable organization, whose manager knows he can plan a couple of years in advance, because he will still be there, and whose retired superstars still want a connection to the team. Lou Brock goes to spring training every year to teach base stealing. Bob Gibson generally shows up, too. Ozzie Smith has said he will show up, now that Tony is gone (Ozzie did not think he was finished as a player when Tony decided that Royce Clayton would be a better option at shortstop, so there were hard feelings). Hell, Jim Edmonds has started talking about buying an ownership stake.

In short, the Cards are a very stable organization that welcomes its retired veterans and puts them to work coaching and managing. Seems to get the job done. - Brock Hanke
   20. phredbird Posted: February 19, 2013 at 01:50 PM (#4371911)
great post, brock. just one quibble: there is no such thing as a rising fastball. i know hitters will say someone throws a rising fastball, but its just a pitch that doesnt sink like say, a two-seamer.
   21. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 19, 2013 at 01:55 PM (#4371918)
Good stuff Brock and excellent points. I think it does get overlooked just how well the Cardinals run their organization.


If they get anything positive out of Ty Wigginton, though, it'll be the greatest miracle since Jesus walked on the water


Just wait till James Loney puts up a 140 OPS+ for the Rays this season.
   22. Squash Posted: February 19, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4371973)
great post, brock. just one quibble: there is no such thing as a rising fastball. i know hitters will say someone throws a rising fastball, but its just a pitch that doesnt sink like say, a two-seamer.

In addition they don't lead to homers because they rise, they are sometimes hit harder b/c they don't move as much and therefore are easier to square up. It's a question of whether you want the 2-3 more mph (which is significant) or the increased movement. It's a question of what's good for the pitcher. Going from 87 to 89 isn't a huge deal and you should probably look for movement, but going from 93 to 95 is pretty sweet. Sometimes sinkerballers are surprised at how much heat they can add when they mix in a four seamer - Kevin Brown for example started throwing a four seamer the year he pitched for the Padres at the suggestion of Dave Stewart and hit 98 a few times (there were other factors at work as well as we now know). Whereas the Kyle Lohse's of the world should probably be going for as much sink and movement as they can.
   23. salvomania Posted: February 19, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4371974)
Their last three, before Mike Matheny (retired Cardinal who was a Gold Glove catcher) were Whitey, Joe Torre, and Tony.


I think all us Cardinal fans tend to conveniently forget the Mike Jorgensen Era.
   24. JE (Jason) Posted: February 19, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4372010)
Well, when I think of championships, the first name that comes to mind is Ty Wigginton.

Meh, Wigginton couldn't hold Luis Sojo's jock.
   25. JE (Jason) Posted: February 19, 2013 at 04:27 PM (#4372049)
If I recall correctly, this is not the first time Noble has sung Wigginton's praises. He said a year ago or so that the Mets stopped having a winning culture after they got rid of him and one other mediocre player.
   26. JJ1986 Posted: February 19, 2013 at 04:34 PM (#4372059)
If I recall correctly, this is not the first time Noble has sung Wigginton's praises. He said a year ago or so that the Mets stopped having a winning culture after they got rid of him and one other mediocre player.


The winning culture of the 2003 Mets?
   27. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 19, 2013 at 04:37 PM (#4372067)
I think all us Cardinal fans tend to conveniently forget the Mike Jorgensen Era.


Imagine being that bum that Jorgensen replaced? Obviously that person was a terrible manager and went on to be a complete failure!
   28. Walt Davis Posted: February 19, 2013 at 04:47 PM (#4372081)
I would like to say that Brock's #19 is complete and utter BS.

Alas, as much as I would like to say that, Brock's #19 is spot on. :-)

Which all means that, to some non-Cardinals team's fans, Wigginton will do something this season to earn the "F" as his middle name.
   29. Davo Dozier Posted: February 19, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4372095)
2010 All-star Ty Wigginton...yep. He hit 248/312/415 on the year as Baltimore's first baseman.

Of course, through May 22 of that year, he was hitting 300/361/613 with 13 homers. After that: 230/295/346.
   30. bjhanke Posted: February 20, 2013 at 01:48 AM (#4372380)
Thanks for all the kudos and info, but yes, I do know that rising fastballs do not actually gain height as they move. I should have put "rises" in quotes, since all I was using the term for was to contrast with the 2-seam fastball. In baseball right now, as I'm sure everyone here knows, "rising fastball" and "4-seam fastball" are essentially the same term. So are "sinking fastball" and "2-seam fastball." Duncan's point was that using the 4-seamer was just as likely to get you killed by homers as it was to get you wins with strikeouts, unless you're Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens or somebody like that. He actually used the term "pitch to contact" more than "2-seam fastball."

Now that I think about it, I've wondered about something relevant for decades, so now is a good time to ask - Has anyone seen or played enough softball to know whether that fast pitch that seems to "hop" right before it reaches the plate actually rises or is an illusion? If it's an illusion, it's a damn good one. I tried to hit it when I played intramural college ball, but just gave up and relied on the fact that pitchers at that level can't throw it reliably for strikes. I know one college women's softball pitcher, and she could throw the thing when she was young, but even she wasn't sure whether it actually hopped or if that was illusion.

And yes, I did forget about Mike Jorgensen as manager. My memory of Jorgensen is fixed on Game 6 of the 1985 Series. I was - really - playing Dungeons and Dragons with a bunch of my friends who were all baseball fans, too, with the game on the TV. When the bottom of the ninth came around, I heard the announcer recite who was coming into the game to replace whom, looked at the TV, and, just offhandedly, said, "Where's Jorgensen?" Whitey had habitually been bringing Jorgensen into games as a defensive replacement for Jack Clark when the Cards had late leads. But not this time; he later said that a 1-0 game was just too close for him to take Jack's bat out of the lineup. Well, IMO, Jorgensen makes a better play on Orta than Jack did, and Denkinger then gets the call right. Jorgensen also is a 98% chance to catch Balboni's foul popup. And then, the Cards are a 98% chance to win the game. That sorta burns every other memory of Jorgensen out of my brain.

Also, the Cardinals have not always been swimming in magic pixie dust. Remembering the 1950s and the 1970s is painful. The owner was mercurial (in all decades, not just those two), the front office was in chaos, and the managers weren't helping. The team was underperforming their talent and wasting whole decades of Stan Musial and Lou Brock. We were really lucky that Whitey Herzog was a good old German boy from near St. Louis who knew how to deal with that good old German boy, Gussie Busch. And we were also lucky that, when Gussie died and left the team to his son, who seems to have hated the team (my opinion was that he thought he had competed for his father's attention with the team and lost), the son sold it after a few years to someone whose family business was owning baseball teams, rather than keeping it and destroying the organization. Memories of those two decades are why I now root for the Cubs if the Cards are not involved. The first 50 years were all fun and games, and the next 50 were hilarious. But it's stopped being funny. It's time the game coughed up a championship to Wrigley. Maybe 3-Finger Brown will rise up as part of the Zombie Apolcalypse. - Brock
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: February 20, 2013 at 02:31 AM (#4372383)
Now that I think about it, I've wondered about something relevant for decades, so now is a good time to ask - Has anyone seen or played enough softball to know whether that fast pitch that seems to "hop" right before it reaches the plate actually rises or is an illusion? If it's an illusion, it's a damn good one. I tried to hit it when I played intramural college ball, but just gave up and relied on the fact that pitchers at that level can't throw it reliably for strikes. I know one college women's softball pitcher, and she could throw the thing when she was young, but even she wasn't sure whether it actually hopped or if that was illusion.


Any thrown ball can rise, for a while. No pitch can jump.

A major league pitch, delivered overhand or even straight sidearm, can not be rising as it approaches the plate and be anywhere near the hitting zone.

A submariner or softball pitch can (and will) rise during a standard delivery. I don't know if a knucklescraper's can continue to be on the rise when it gets to the plate (my suspicion is no, but someone with a better knowledge of physics and the limitations of the human arm could answer). The softball pitch, delivered to a much closer target, is probably still capable of being on an upward path when it crosses home plate (and be tempting enough to attract a swing).

Any rising effect on a typical major league fastball is simply the ball not falling as much as the batter anticipates, based on his history of watching thrown pitches. Since it is not dropping as much as expected, it gives the illusion of rising.
   32. Walt Davis Posted: February 20, 2013 at 02:49 AM (#4372392)
The softball pitch, delivered to a much closer target, is probably still capable of being on an upward path when it crosses home plate (and be tempting enough to attract a swing).

If it's above your ankles you better be swinging cuz it's the best pitch you'll see.

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