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Goold: Cardinals are determined to give Jordan Walker a chance to win a spot on opening day

Check out the highlights from Derrick Goold’s Cardinals chat with readers. The full transcript of the chat can be found here.

Q: I understand it’s a really small sample size, but if Winn keeps hitting the way he is, does he force his way onto the roster?

DG: Not likely at this moment, not with an injury ahead of him on the depth chart. But he’s definitely accelerating his arrival. The Cardinals entered this season with the plan of having him start, at the highest, at Class AAA Memphis, and while that is still the case to see how his offense continues to improve, to in fact blossom, the notion of seeing Winn at some point in the majors this coming year is gaining a foothold within the organization. Obviously, it will depend on how he performs at Memphis, But there is a real sense around spring training that a) he’s had one of the best camps so far for any player at any level and b) if he continues to make the advancements he has at the pace he’s doing it then he’ll be in the majors at some point by season’s end.

Q: Hi Derrick. Love the clock so far. How will extra time be handled when catcher or umpire gets dinged hard and needs a bit to collect themselves?

DG: Discretion of the officials on the field. That is allowed. They’ll be smart about it.

Q: From my vantage point it sure looks like Jordan Walker is playing his way onto the roster; do the Cardinals agree?

DG: They are taking this as it goes, and they don’t have to make a call right now, so they won’t. They’re going to continue to play him, start him, test him, and throw challenges in his direction, and they’ll see how he responds. He’s going on the road trip this week so he could play in both Lakeland and Tampa. They are determined to give him the opportunity to win a spot on the opening day lineup, and you’re seeing that backed with action.

Q: With the WBC on the horizon, are there any Cardinal vs Cardinal matchups you are excited to see?

DG: Miles Mikolas vs. any teammate would be good. He’ll have thoughts to share from the mound.

Q: It seems that the Cardinals have several prospects in the outfield who can hit but may also be defensive liabilities. Gorman at second would be one as well.

Is this a statement on our farm systems ability to develop players or is this normal in today’s baseball structure?

DG: Nolan Gorman is a better than average second baseman. His arm allows for him to make up for some of the range and footwork that he’s still making instinctual, but he’s a fine to good second baseman, and he’s above average at that position.

Juan Yepez, Alec Burleson are first basemen who are playing the outfield because the NL MVP plays first base for the Cardinals, and Gomez is from another organization and really has always a bat first and searching for a position. That’s not new. I don’t think this reveals any greater truth on development that you couldn’t also point to the work that Walker did or Mercado did years ago or Donovan has done as examples to the contrary.

Q: Jake Woodford seems to strengthen his case to be a part of the MLB team every time he touches the mound. What does this guy have to do to get some love from the FO and coaching staff?

DG: Yes, that’s fair. For sure. That’s the purpose of spring training. But so is context. Some players are trying to impress, some players are trying to prepare. We need to be honest about that. Many many many years ago there was a young player crushing the ball at third base while Scott Rolen got into his groove, took pitches, found his timing, and get ready for the regular season. He was getting ready to do his job, and the young player having a great spring was not going to take it. Context matters.

The general sense within the walls of the Cardinals’ office is that O’Neill is on the short list for players who have had strong springs so far. Winn is on that same list. Walker would be, too.

As for Woodford — what does he have to do to have the role that he’s earned with all the work he’s done to meet their demands, to get outs, to continually work toward being the pitcher they asked him to be while still getting outs in whatever role they ask?

Well, he might have to be traded, honestly.

That said. He’s on the short list of impressive springs, too. For what it’s worth.

Q: Derrick, a week or so into training camp … are you feeling better, the same, or worse about the Cardinals upcoming season?

DG: About the same. A couple of weeks into camp and they haven’t answered questions we know they’ll have. They’re not going to win a playoff series in March. They are going to stay healthy for April, and that’s happened. Flaherty had a positive appearance today. Walker has had a strong camp. O’Neill has made his point about the work he’s done. All expected strides, right? This is a season, as the players have said and writers will likely repeat, that will be impossible to judge until later in the year because that’s when any Cardinals season is judged. Are they getting ready for it? Yes. Are they sloppy and rickety and unhealthy and throwing out flares of trouble? Not at all. They’re having the spring they need. That’s the first step toward the season they want.

Q: Of the pitchers perceived to be outside of the rotation so far, which do you think has the highest likelihood of becoming an important factor when an injury occurs in the rotation? (It always does). My list of candidates in my head are Woodford, Liberatore, Graceffo, or McGreevy (there could be others I’m missing).

DG: Good call including McGreevy.

Q: With the Cardinals unwilling to meeting the FA price for starting pitching, what direction do you think they will take next year to fill the 3 or 4 vacant SP spots?

DG: They’re going to have to change that stance. Full stop. Catch up to the market.

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Derrick Goold

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dgoold@post-dispatch.com

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