A story in the Daily News this morning reminds me of a “Seinfeld” scene:
- George: Magellan? You like Magellan?
- Jerry: Oh yeah, my favorite explorer. Around the
world, come on. Who do you like?
- George: I like DeSoto.
- Jerry: DeSoto? What did he do?
- George: Discovered the
- Jerry: Oh, like they wouldn’t have
found that anyway:
In a freezing, wet Michigan spring, [Dick] Groch watched Jeter from the
stands, from behind the backstop, from down the foul lines while
sitting in his car. The shortstop’s joy in playing “emanated from him,”
Groch says. “I made the comment once that he started playing baseball
at a family picnic and he’s been playing ever since.”
Groch saw power potential, strong hands, athleticism. He saw that
Jeter easily handled the failure that’s part of baseball. “It was only
a temporary inconvenience to him,” Groch says.
Scouting is no easy job, and the guys who do it are dedicated, hard working people who rarely receive the kind of credit for their work that they deserve.
Still, is finding Derek Jeter — a guy the whole world knew would be a really good one — the best hook on which to hang an appreciation of Dick Groch? If I didn’t know better I’d say that this was really just another appreciation of Derek Jeter leading up to his breaking of Gehrig’s Yankees hits record and maybe serving as a subtle MVP campaign for the guy.
Interesting, sure, But I’ll bet Dick Groch has found all kinds of good players over the years who weren’t drawing the kind of heat Jeter was. Those are the scouting stories I’d like to hear, not yet another Jeter love-fest, of which we’ve had plenty in the past week.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.