NL Central: A midseason 2022 front office assessment

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 16: David Stearns President of the Milwaukee Brewers before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at American Family Field on April 16, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 16: David Stearns President of the Milwaukee Brewers before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at American Family Field on April 16, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
5 of 6
Next
Brendan Donovan. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Brendan Donovan. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

St. Louis Cardinals front office, -4.3

The Cardinal front office presents an odd case. It has probably generated the majors’ best  rookie class. The 13 rookies introduced to the majors thus far include some legit prospects: Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan, and Zach Thomson among them.  As a group they’ve generated +1.8 WAA.

Yet overall the front office has had a bad season. Teams generally make their hay via the signing of available free agents, or by tying up their own products to extensions. The Mozeliak-Girsch team signed eight free agents – Albert Pujols and Steven Matz among them – and seven of the eight have generated negative value to the tune of -5.3 WAA.

Overall the Cards made 35 moves involving major leaguers, 19 of them working out positively. But the negatives have been more negative than the positives have been positive.

Here are the five most impactful.

April 25: Donovan was called up to plug a recurring mid-infield gap, and he’s more than done that. His .295 average and .816 OPS translate to a +1.3 WAA. As previously noted, the rookie class is strong, but Donovan is so far their value leader.

April 7: Andre Pallante did make the opening day roster, working both as an occasional starter and bullpen filler. In 55 innings through July 3 he was working on a 2.10 ERA,.131 WHIP and 1.1 WAA. A note: Those numbers do not reflect the beating Pallante took Tuesday at the hands of the Braves, which re-enforced the reality that all these figures reflect merely half a season and thus are subject to change.

Nov. 8: Five days after reliever T.J. McFarland opted for free agency, the Cardinals re-signed him for $2.5 million. Non-elite relievers are bargain basement items in the majors, and it almost never makes sense to invest heavily in them. McFarland is a classic illustration: In 24 games he’s hauling around a career-worst 7.43 ERA and -1.1 WAA.

March 18: The Cardinals signed free agent outfielder Corey Dickerson, a mid-30s veteran of nine seasons with a half dozen teams. In 38 games, Dickerson produced next-to-nothing: two homers, 11 RBIs, a .194 average and a .531 OPS. He’s currently on an injury rehab in Memphis, but if and when Dickerson returns the results will have to be an upgrade on his -0.9 WAA if he wants to hold a roster spot on a contender.

March 28: The signing of the legendary Albert Pujols was a feel-good story in St. Louis. Statistically it has, however, hurt the club’s cause. The 42-year-old Pujols is batting .189 with just four homers and a .601 OPS that is 300 points below his career average. The Cardinals know this; they’ve given Pujols just 48 plate appearances since June 1,and he’s hitting just .136. His WAA sits at -0.8