Molina and Cardinals Finalizing Contract

Yadier Molina

The Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are in the process of finalizing a three-year extension that will guarantee the seven-time All-Star more than $55MM, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). St. Louis and Molina have reportedly been in serious talks over the duration of Spring Training, with the last update over the weekend suggesting that the two sides had “made progress” on a deal.

The new contract, if it is indeed finalized, will keep the franchise icon in St. Louis through the 2020 season rather than allowing him to hit free agency at season’s end. Though he’s set to turn 35 years of age in July, Molina remained a productive backstop in 2016, hitting .307/.360/.427 with eight homers and 38 doubles in 581 plate appearances.

Molina also retained well above-average marks in terms of pitch-framing — a trend that has followed him throughout a career that has seen him earn eight Gold Glove nods, four Platinum Glove Awards and a Silver Slugger. He’s garnered MVP votes on five occasions, including a pair of Top 4 finishes in 2012 and 2013.

Of course, Molina is hardly without his red flags. He’s already 34 years of age and will turn 35 this July, meaning he’ll be 38 years of age for the final three months or so of this contract in 2020. Beyond that, Molina has seen his power numbers dip since his 2011-13 peak.

While some of that could potentially be attributed to a surgeries to repair torn ulnar collateral ligaments in each of his thumbs, and he did demonstrate an uptick in pop last year, there’s no guarantee that he’ll return to his previous levels of power output. And, if his power production trends in the other direction, as it did in 2015, Molina’s limited on-base skills (6.2 percent walk rate since 2013) create the possibility that he could be a decidedly below-average hitter.

On the defensive side of the coin, though his framing marks remained excellent, Molina threw out a career-worst 21 percent of attempted base thieves during the 2016 campaign. His career 42 percent caught-stealing rate lends plenty of reason to expect a rebound, but the surprising dip in effectiveness is nonetheless worth monitoring.

MLBTRADERUMORS

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Cardinals New Ultimate Museum Membership

St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies

The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum has announced a new membership option to its museum membership program.  The Cardinals Ultimate Museum Membership has been created for fans desiring the most premier level of benefits.

Fans who purchase an Ultimate Membership will receive an exclusive, one-of-a-kind bronze mini plaque engraved with their name from Matthews International, the company that has exclusively produced inductee plaques for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for more than 30 years.  In addition to the bronze mini plaque, members will also receive an autographed bat and baseball from a Cardinals Hall of Famer, VIP seating for two at the Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, a $500 discount to Cardinals Fantasy Camp, 50% off facility rental costs to host a private event at the Cardinals Museum (a $1,000 value), recognition in the Cardinals Museum on the Ultimate Members wall and much more.  The Ultimate Membership is a $1,000 investment.

“We’re excited to present a new museum membership option that gives our fans a never before offered level of exclusivity,” said Brian Finch, Manager of Stadium Tours and Museum Operations.  “The Museum Membership program allows us to give fans access to great benefits while providing funding for exhibit design, curatorial needs and artifact procurement and restoration.”

Fans also have the option of an Individual Membership for $50 or a Family Membership for $85.  All memberships include unlimited admission to the Cardinals Museum for one year, exclusive bobbleheads, guest passes, access to members-only events, 10% off at the Cardinals Authentics Shop and Cardinals Nation Restaurant & Bar and access to select game ticket presales.  For the 2017 season, individual members will receive a Dizzy Dean bobblehead while families will receive a Dean and Ted Simmons bobblehead.  This marks the first time in club history that the team has produced bobbleheads of Dean or Simmons.

Memberships are available for purchase in person at the Cardinals Museum, by phone at 314.345.9783 or online at cardinals.com/membership.  Cardinals season ticket holders can receive 20% off the cost of membership by calling the number above or by emailing museummembership@cardinals.com.

Cardinals and Chick-fil-A partner Up

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WHAT: St. Louis-area Chick-fil-A® Restaurants have entered into an inaugural partnership with the St. Louis Cardinals. As a part of the deal, all 13 area stores will offer a free Original Chick-fil-A Sandwich or 8-Count Chicken Nugget to guests wearing Cardinals gear. The giveaway will take place during Thursday home games from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The giveaway is a way to say “thank you” to customers and fans for their years of support.

“We are thrilled to fuel Cardinals Nation as we cheer on the Redbirds towards another championship,” said Eric Benting, Owner/Operator of the Chick-fil-A at Sunset Hills. “This is just one way our local restaurants support the community.”

The promotion is valid on the following dates: April 27; May 4; June 1 and 15; July 6 and 27; Aug. 10 and 24; Sept. 14 and 28.

“We are looking forward to a very successful long-term partnership with Chick-fil-A,” said Thane van Breusegen, Vice President of Corporate Sales/Stadium Entertainment for the Cardinals. “This is a very unique opportunity to unite two excellent and established brands, while providing Cardinals fans with a great new in-market promotion.”

“I have a Chick-fil-A plush cow hanging in my locker and have loved the food for years! It would be an understatement to say I’m excited about this partnership.” said Adam Wainwright, Cardinals Pitcher and founder of Big League Impact

WHEN: All Thursday Cardinals home games during the regular season from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. To view the entire Cardinals schedule, click here WHERE: All St. Louis-area Chick-fil-A Restaurants

To locate a Chick-fil-A Restaurant, visit Chick-fil-A.com/Locations.

Cardinals in Talks with Molina

A1molina

Jon Heyman is reporting……

The St. Louis Cardinals and revered catcher Yadier Molina are making major progress toward a possible contract extension, sources tell FanRag Sports. While the current terms being discussed are unknown, Molina was originally seeking a four-year extension, while the team countered with a two-year offer. A deal now appears to be getting close between the two sides.

This is the final guaranteed year of Molina’s current contract; he will be paid $14 million this season. The two sides also hold a mutual option for $15 million for the 2018 season, with a $2 million buyout.

Molina, 34, has been with the Cardinals his entire professional career since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2000 draft. He made his MLB debut in 2004 and has been a staple of the team’s lineup ever since. He really hit his stride beginning with the 2008 season, when he won his first Gold Glove; he won the award each of the next seven seasons before ceding the award to San Francisco’s Buster Posey in 2016. In 2009, he made his first All-Star Game, another streak which came to an end in 2016.

The terms under consideration aren’t clear at this point, but Heyman notes that the sides were working to bridge initial differences in the length of the new deal. Molina’s representatives opened with a four-year request, with the organization coming in at two seasons. That leaves three as the natural (and, in this case, seemingly reasonable) compromise point, though of course options could also be used to tweak the consideration in either direction.

All I can say is this really looks good for Molina and the Cardinals plus the fans.

Will Wong Play or Will He Go?

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This certainly doesn’t  sound well in regards to Kolten Wong’s future with the Cardinals. He has made a comment with sports writer Ben Fredrickson of the St. Louis Post Dispatch if he’d rather the Cardinals trade him than use him as a part-time player. Wong responded “One hundred percent. I don’t want to be here wasting my time. I know what kind of player I am. If I don’t have the belief here, then I’ll go somewhere else.”

It really looks bad for Wong that the Cardinals feel that his under achieving plate appearances puts him as a non full time player. The 26-year-old owns a modest .248/.309/.370 batting line in 1,469 plate appearances, including an even worse .247/.290/.327 in 336 PAs versus same-handed pitchers, and is coming off a year which featured a demotion to Triple-A.

While Wong has underwhelmed at the plate, that hasn’t been the case at the keystone, where he has totaled 19 Defensive Runs Saved and put up a 9.0 Ultimate Zone Rating in the majors. Wong’s cognizant of the value he has provided the Cardinals in the field.

“On defense, I’m one of the best second basemen in the league,” he declared. “I believe that and I know that.”

Both Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny agree with Wong, having heaped praise on his defensive skills during the offseason. Of course, Mozeliak was responsible for giving Wong  a five-year, $25.5MM extension last March. Wong addressed that deal Sunday and wondered aloud whether he’ll finish the contract in St. Louis, per Frederickson. Regardless, he believes the pact entitles him to a longer leash.

If the Cardinals feel it is time to trade Wong, I truly feel that Gteg Garcia should be given the chance for more at bats than Jedd Gyrko since Jedd is more like a super sub.

I also wonder if the Cardinals would consider trading for a second baseman due to 2018 free agent list looks dismal for second basemen. If there is one player that the Cardinals should trade for as a full time second baseman it would be Eduardo Nunez. Last year he had put up some power numbers HR16\RBI67\SB40….not bad at all. He’s earning a mere $1.475MM this season and is eligible for arbitration one final time this winter before hitting free agency following the 2017 season. Nunez could fill in for a team looking for a regular second baseman or bounce around between second base, shortstop, third base and left field. He doesn’t excel defensively at any of those spots, but the versatility is nice. Well its just a thought.

Source: MLBTradeRumors

 

Lets Make a Deal

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As of right now the Cardinals have a week to negotiate a deal with Yadier Molina. Like most players, Molina doesn’t want to be distracted by negotiations dragging on into the season.  If a new deal isn’t reached, the longtime St. Louis star said he isn’t afraid to hit the open market.

The two sides began preliminary talks about a new deal over a month ago, and Cards GM John Mozeliak said last week that the team would be open to continuing discussions into the season, since the Cardinals “are not a deadline organization, historically.”  It seems as if the Cardinals are trying to be as flexible as possible in handling Molina’s extension case, perhaps a wise tactic when determining the future production of a workhorse catcher who turns 35 in July.

Molina has already signed two extensions with the Cardinals during his career, and is entering the last guaranteed season of a five-year, $75MM pact.  (That deal contains a $15MM mutual option for 2018 with a $2MM buyout, though like most mutual options, it seems quite unlikely to be exercised.)  It’s hard to argue that the catcher hasn’t been worth that investment, as Molina has hit .296/.341/.412 since the start of the 2013 season while generating 12.1 fWAR and has continued to provide his customary strong defense behind the plate.  While Molina’s performance dipped a bit in 2015, he bounced back to hit .307/.360/.427 over 581 PA last season.

While the Cardinals have extended certain veteran stars (such as Molina himself and Adam Wainwright) rather than letting them test free agent waters, the club has also been willing to let franchise icons leave — i.e. Albert Pujols — if it feels the cost will be too prohibitive.  While Molina obviously won’t require nearly as massive a commitment as Pujols, there aren’t many catchers who have remained both healthy and productive enough to merit an eight-figure annual salary into their mid-to-late 30’s.

Molina, for his part, tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other reporters that he isn’t close to the end of his career.  “I’ve still got many years in the tank.  Believe me,” Molina said.  “I feel great.  I feel like a 20-year-old kid.”  Molina’s remarkable durability notwithstanding, the Cardinals could explore extending Molina and then using him at first base in future years to keep him fresh and to ease top prospect Carson Kelly into catching duties.

Source

 

Cardinals Option Tommy Pham

APHAM

The St. Louis Cardinals announced this morning that they have optioned outfielder Tommy Pham to the Memphis Redbirds (AAA) roster.This morning’s transaction reduced the number of players in the team’s Major League spring training camp to 41, including 11 non-roster invitees.This leaves Jose Martinez the heir apparent to be the Cardinals bat off the bench and our extra outfielder.

Source: St. Louis Cardinals

FIREFIGHTERS APPRECIATION THEME NIGHT

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Today the St. Louis Cardinals announced the addition of Firefighter Appreciation Night to the 2017 Theme Ticket schedule.  The Cardinals will partner with The 16-1263_70th_Anniversary_Emblem_FINALHartford and the company’s Junior Fire Marshal program to celebrate our brave men and women in uniform when the Redbirds take on the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, May 3 at 7:15 p.m.

Fans who purchase the special theme ticket will receive a unique Cardinals firefighter t-shirt and a portion of each theme ticket purchased will be donated to The BackStoppers, Inc.  Children who visit The Hartford’s Junior Fire Marshal booths inside Busch Stadium will receive a free Junior Fire Marshal helmet and fire safety educational materials.  In addition, during a pregame ceremony, children will be encouraged to take part in the Junior Fire Marshal pledge about fire safety.  For more information, visit cardinals.com/firefighters.

                The Hartford has deputized more than 110 million children since the company’s Junior Fire Marshal program started in 1947.  The company’s signature red fire helmets have been proudly displayed by generations of children who have learned the basics of fire safety through this innovative and educational program.  The program teaches lifesaving lessons such as Stop, Drop and Roll, Go Low in Smoke and Draw a Home Fire Escape Plan.  These lessons along with other fun, engaging and educational activities allow parents and teachers to have meaningful and vital fire safety conversations with children and students. More information about the program can be found at thehartford.com/jfm.

Fans can purchase tickets for Firefighter Appreciation Night and view the remaining 2017 theme ticket schedule at cardinals.com/theme.

Source: St. Louis Cardinals

Here Comes the Cardinals Food Truck

Food Truck

The St. Louis Cardinals have announced the arrival of the Cardinals Nation Food Truck.  Serving a combination of ballpark fare and unique culinary creations, the #CardsFoodTruck will be located at 8th and Walnut St. on game days, available for corporate and social events and catering and be a part of the Cardinals outreach throughout the St. Louis community.

Food Truck Logo Final“The Cardinals Nation Food Truck gives us the opportunity to add to the game day experience around Busch Stadium,” said Bill DeWitt III, President of the St. Louis Cardinals.  “It also allows us to take Cardinals Nation Restaurant on the road and bring the ballpark atmosphere to our fans around the region.”

The food truck menu consists of 10 entrée offerings including fan favorites from the Cardinals Nation Restaurant like the Cardinals Nation Nachos and Four Cheese Mac & Cheese, along with fun new selections such as Bacon Ribs and the Twisted Cheddar Brat.  In addition to taking part in local fairs and festivals, Cardinals fans will even see the truck on streets around the city for lunch service.

“We are using a lot of local products to put together our menu,” said Nate Green, Cardinals Nation Director of Operations, who will oversee the Cardinals Nation Food Truck. “Products like G&W sausages and hot dogs, Companion Bread Co., and A Different Twist Pretzel Company really help make these fun menu choices a reality.”

The idea for the food truck began last year as a way of extending the Cardinals Nation Restaurant brand.  The food truck started as a 20-foot diesel truck from Degel Truck Center in Hazelwood, Mo. and then made its way to Schantz Manufacturing in Highland, Ill. for a custom box kitchen build.

“As a local company working with our local team, we are proud to have the opportunity to build the Cardinals Nation Food Truck for the St. Louis Cardinals organization and think it will be the best food truck in the industry,” said Mike Schantz, President of Schantz Manufacturing.

Fans can follow the #CardsFoodTruck on Twitter @CardsFoodTruck, on the Cardinals website at cardinals.com/foodtruck and on the Cardinals Nation Facebook page at facebook.com/cardinalsnation for weekly truck location announcements.  Booking opportunities are available by calling 314.345.9880 or emailing foodtruck@cardinals.com.  A PDF of the Cardinals Nation Food Truck menu follows below.

— STL —

Cardinals looking at Derek Norris

MLB: Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres

Well Derek Norris was just released by the Nationals and yes the Cardinals have interest in him. Norris was an above-average bat from 2013-15 with Oakland and San Diego, and although he tied a career-high with 14 home runs last season, his overall production cratered across the board. In 458 trips to the dish, Norris hit just .186/.255/.328 with a vastly elevated 30.3 percent strikeout rate. It may be of interest to some that there was a section of the 2016 campaign where Norris looked more like his typical self; the 28-year-old got off to an awful start and finished the season in similarly dreadful swoon, but from early May through mid-July, Norris was actually rather productive. Over a stretch of 199 plate appearances, Norris hit .249/.317/.486 with 11 of his 14 long balls. His strikeout rate, while still a lofty 27 percent, was slightly better in that stretch as well.

According to scouts Cafardo has spoken to, Norris would be best served by avoiding the Cardinals and other NL teams in order to stay in the American League.  The general consensus among Cafardo’s sources is that Norris isn’t much of a defender, so playing for an AL team would allow him to take the field as a DH.  The scouts do praise Norris’ work ethic and leadership abilities, on the plus side.

So here is my thing, he also has playing time at first base and Norris is more than capable of providing above-average offense. As recently as 2015, he batted .250/.305/.404 — perfectly respectable output for a catcher — and a year prior he delivered an impressive .270/.361/.403 slash.

Norris has been inconsistent in terms of throwing out baserunners in his career, with his single-season caught-stealing rates ranging anywhere from 17 percent in 2014 to 34 percent in 2015. But in the aggregate, he’s caught potential thieves at a roughly league-average 26 percent clip, and more recently, he’s graded out as a quality pitch framer.

I think we should take a look at him, it wouldn’t hurt.

Source: MLB Trade Rumors