Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. talks about upcoming season
St. Louis Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. anticipates Major League Baseball to discipline the Cardinals before the start of spring training following the hacking investigation of the Houston Astros database by former Scouting Director Chris Correa.
DeWitt addressed the topic Monday at the 21st annual Winter Warm-Up. Correa pleaded guilty and in July was sentenced to a four-year prison term.
“There isn’t a lot to do. It’s just wait and see how it all plays out,” DeWitt Jr. said. “I expect, or hope, it will play out before the start of spring training. I know the goal is for the commissioner (Rob Manfred) to get things completed by late January, hopefully early February, at the latest. They’ve done a lot of work. They’ve done a lot of investigative work. They’ve reviewed everything that occurred in the federal procedures. At this point, I think they’re in pretty good shape with what’s going to get them to make a decision.”
DeWitt said the Cardinals have completed their internal investigation and that he isn’t surprised by the length of time it is taking for MLB to impose possible sanctions.
“The commissioner and the Cardinals are on the same page in wanting to resolve it sooner rather than later,” DeWitt said. “But you don’t want (Manfred’s) decision to occur before he has what he feels are all of the facts and all of the circumstances.”
Not rushing through the investigation, DeWitt said, will produce “a good final, appropriate decision and not something that you have to look back on and say, ‘I didn’t realize this or that.’ (But) it is just hanging out there. We would like to have it over with. ... There’s nothing further we plan to do internally. We’ll react to what the commissioner says and whatever punishment he imposes.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has not determined where Matt Carpenter will be utilized in the batting order. The former leadoff man is considered a prime candidate to bat third following the free agent acquisition of Dexter Fowler, who will hit first.
“That’s the beautiful thing about spring. I love spring training,” Matheny said. “Part of it is, ‘Let’s just play.’ I’ve told you all before: You could see Carp in the third hole; you could see him as the second hitter, too.”
Matheny is eager to see the impact Fowler will have on the lineup.
“Dexter, to me, fits very well in that leadoff spot. We’re taken with what we’ve seen in the past, the way he can get on base, the way he moves first to third, the way he scores from second base. You put him on first base and if Matt Carpenter — whether he’s the next hitter or the second hitter after — hits a double, there’s a run. We have great flexibility.”
New man on mound
Matheny needed no time to think when asked which pitcher he was most interested in watching.
“Brett Cecil,” Matheny said of the left-handed reliever who signed a four-year, $30.5-million free agent contract in November. “I think it was a great pickup by our club. It’s one that maybe our fan base doesn’t see how valuable this guy could end up being for us. Throw him into the mix with a very strong bullpen already, it just made us better.”
Cecil was 1-7 with a 3.93 ERA in 54 games with the Toronto Blue Jays last season.
The Cardinals were forced to dive into the lefty relief market after Zach Duke underwent Tommy John surgery less than two weeks after the season ended. Duke, who was 0-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 28 games last season after being acquired from the Chicago White Sox, is expected to miss all of 2017.
“We would have loved to have had Zach Duke, and it sounds like things are going well in his rehab,” Matheny said. “We might see him before year’s end, too. That would be another piece to add.”
DeWitt likes team
DeWitt is bullish on the Cardinals and believes they can be as good as 2015 when they won 100 games and advanced to the postseason.
“I look forward to seeing the club that’s been put together,” DeWitt said. “We’re going to have a little more speed, hopefully better defense. That’s going to help out our pitching staff, a lot of which is ground ball-oriented. It’s going to be a more balanced club than last year, and I think even more balanced than two years ago. That was not a very strong offensive club as it turned out, but really had great pitching.”
Wacha ready for case
Right-hander Michael Wacha, who was 7-7 with a 5.09 ERA in 2016, said he will attend the arbitration case between him and the Cardinals. The case, which hasn’t yet been scheduled, will determine whether Wacha will be paid $3.2 million or $2.775 million this season.
“I’m looking forward to the hearing coming up in the next few weeks,” Wacha said. “We’ll go from there. I’ll be there. I don’t really know much about the situation. ... I was out there pitching. Nothing (the Cardinals say) will be new to me, I guess.”
Carlos Martinez, who was 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA last season, also is expected to go to arbitration. Wacha’s and Martinez’s hearings will be the Cardinals’ first since 1999.
Lynn heading for Florida
Another Cardinals right-hander, Lance Lynn, is completely recovered from Tommy John surgery and it ready to assume his spot in the rotation.
“I feel good. It’s been my normal throwing program since right before Christmastime,” Lynn said. “I’m just moving forward and getting ready for the season. I’ll be in Florida next week and I’ll start throwing bullpens when I get down there. There’s no need to throw outside in this (weather) and I don’t like to throw indoors.”
Lynn is 61-39 with a 3.37 ERA in his career and said he has no intentions of changing his style or his passion for throwing fastballs.
“If you look at the success I’ve had, why change, right?” Lynn said. “I’m going to be who I am, whether you like it or not. I would like to win the World Series. That’s the only thing that matters.”
Lynn is entering the final season of a three-year, $22-million contract that will pay him $7.5 million in 2017. He said there’s no reason to worry about not having a contract beyond this year.
“I’m a Cardinal. I’ve been a Cardinal, and that’s how it’s going to be when the season ends,” Lynn said. “Then I’ll figure out where I’m going to go after that. Obviously, Mo (general manager John Mozeliak) wants to make sure I can pitch before he talks to me about anything. I’ll show him I can pitch and I’ll show him I’m back to being who I am. We’ll go from there. I’m going to try to be even better.”