Viva El Birdos: Interview with St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Joe Kelly

GIF Credit: MLB GIFS

GIF Credit: MLB GIFS

As most of you already know, I have moved my blogging ability over to SB Nation’s Viva El Birdos.

Don’t worry, I am still known as stlCupofJoe over there as well. That is something I hope I am able to retain for the entirety of my blogging “career.”

I am so grateful for the amount of opportunities I have had since joining Viva El Birdos. I have been able to interview many of the Cardinals top prospects: Lee StoppelmanKurt Heyer, Joe Cuda, Alex Reyes, Carson Kelly, Rob Kaminsky, and Oscar Mercado. I still have interviews set to publish on Marco Gonzales and Randal Grichuk later this week. If you have missed any of the above interviews or just would like to read them again, feel free to check them out by clicking on the player’s name.

Each one of those interviews have been absolutely awesome. However, I am writing this post to bring your attention to the biggest interview I have had in my short blogging career. I was able to exchange questions and answers with St. Louis Cardinals hybrid pitcher, Joe Kelly, and the link to that interview can be found here. I can assure you that this interview is in the “must-read” category for all Cardinals fans because some of his answers are absolutely priceless.

Also, I am in charge of managing the site’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, so if you have accounts on either of those, make sure to give us a follow or a like:

You can follow us on Twitter: @vivaelbirdos or Facebook: Viva El Birdos.

Thank you so much for your continued support, and I hope you have continued to follow me at my new location.

Go Cards!

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Q&A with National Baseball Insider, Chris Cotillo

Photo Credit: MLB Network

Photo Credit: MLB Network

In an attempt to keep bringing you the best content possible, I was able to participate in a quick email interview with national baseball insider, Chris Cotillo, of MLBDailyDish.com. It contains a variety of topics ranging from the offseason of the St. Louis Cardinals to his busy life as a high school senior and baseball insider. Though he may still be in high school, he is one of the best baseball insiders and writers out there, so I am extremely thankful to have had this opportunity.

stlCupofJoe: What are your thoughts on the Cardinals offseason thus far? With Peter Bourjos/Randal Grichuk, Jhonny Peralta, and Mark Ellis on board, Cardinal Nation is pretty pumped, so what’s a national media member’s thoughts?
Chris Cotillo: I think they’ve had one of the more interesting offseasons in baseball this winter. As one of the best teams in the league last year, they didn’t seem like they had a lot to do, but still found a way to improve. I like the Bourjos trade, and Ellis is a nice complementary piece as well. The loss of Beltran will hurt them, and Peralta’s success may not be sustainable over all four seasons. Only time will tell, though.

stlCupofJoe: Which of the three acquisitions will affect the team the most long-term? I have my opinion, which I’ve shared on Twitter, but would love to hear yours as well.
Chris Cotillo: I think the Bourjos/Grichuk deal will be the best for them. Bourjos is a very underrated, good player…and Grichuk is not a throw-in by any means. Both of those guys have a legitimate chance to help the Cardinals at the big league level for a long time, and a guy who needed a change of scenery (Freese) and a throw-in (Salas) don’t seem like too hefty of a price to pay for them.

stlCupofJoe: With the majority of the offseason checklist completed, do you see the Cardinals making any more complementary moves?
Chris Cotillo: I think they are pretty much done for now. Small waiver claim/40-man roster shuffling moves always happen, but there are no glaring holes after the moves that they have made.

stlCupofJoe: It appears that the final spot is down to Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma. If you were in charge, who would you pick?
Chris Cotillo: I would pick Descalso, just because of the versatility he can provide. Kozma may have some trade value because many teams are looking for help at shortstop.

stlCupofJoe: As a soon-to-be high school graduate and national baseball insider, you’ve obviously got a lot on your plate. How are you able to handle it all?
Chris Cotillo: I get about 4 hours of sleep per night, but I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything if I’m not awake, so I get used to it. I prioritize school over baseball writing, but if it’s a time-sensitive news item that needs to be written about, pre-calc or Spanish work can wait.

stlCupofJoe: What is your favorite part of being a baseball insider?
Chris Cotillo: Actually, just the competition part of it. I know that there are dozens of excellent reporters chasing the same stories as I am, so being able to get something first is something that I take pride in. I bet the thrill of the competition of getting information before others wears off after a while, but for someone like me who can’t hit a beach ball with a tennis racquet–it’s the closest thing to a sport as I can get.

stlCupofJoe: As a Boston native, is it tough to stay as un-biased as possible while doing your job? Or do you still find the time to show your Red Sox pride?
Chris Cotillo: It’s becoming easier. I root for people in the game who have been good to me and have helped me out, regardless of team or opponent. Being able to cover the World Series in October at Fenway, I was thrilled to see the Sox win just because I knew it meant a ton to a lot of friends and family members of mine…and the city needed it badly after what we went through in April with the bombing. It truly brought everyone together once again, but this time for something extremely positive. I may not be a diehard Red Sox fan anymore, but I am still a diehard fan of the city of Boston and everything it stands for.

stlCupofJoe: I’m a Butler pharmacy student, but I also aspire to be a pretty respected baseball writer (which is why I started stlCupofJoe), what would be one piece of advice you would have for me?
Chris Cotillo: My biggest thing is to not make up stories or claim that sources are telling you things when they’re not. You earn respect from other reporters by citing sources, showing that you have a passion for all of this, and by not making things up.

For the latest breaking news in the MLB, I highly recommend you follow @ChrisCotillo on Twitter. You can also read some of his top-notch articles on MLBDailyDish.com. He is one of the few national insiders that I follow on a regular basis, and I highly recommend you do the same.

Until next time…

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe or Facebook: stlCupofJoe’s Sports Page.

Cardinal Nation, Meet Randal Grichuk

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas (USA Today Sports)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas (USA Today Sports)

With today’s trade, the David Freese era in St. Louis has officially come to a close. In return for Freese and Fernando Salas, the Cardinals have received speedy centerfielder, Peter Bourjos, and outfield prospect, Randal Grichuk.

As hundreds of people have already noted all across social media, Grichuk was selected by the Los Angeles Angels one pick before the team drafted Mike Trout back in 2009. Thus, he has to have some tools, right? This is a logical assumption, so I decided to take a look at some of his numbers to see what I could find out.

Grichuk, listed at 6′, 195 pounds, is a 22-year-old right-handed hitting (and throwing) corner outfielder. He has played a little bit of center in the minors, but he projects as a right or left fielder. Since a lot of you are probably wondering about his professional statistics, the table below documents his numbers in the minors over the past two seasons–2012 in High-A and 2013 in AA:

grichum

As you can see, he has solid power numbers–averaging 28.5 doubles, 8.5 triples, and 20 home runs per season in 2012 and 2013. One thing you definitely cannot teach is hitting power, and this is obviously not a problem for Grichuk. However, his batting average and on-base percentage are lagging behind somewhat. His batting average in High-A was partially inflated due to his unusually high BABIP (the league average falls into the .290 to .310 range), and when it came down to earth in AA (.272), his batting average suffered–falling to just .256.

His on-base percentage in AA was just .306. For perspective, the Cardinals had nine players with higher regular season OBPs than Grichuk on their post-season roster. The only regular with a lower OBP than Grichuk’s? Pete Kozma, but no one can really be surprised about that.

Though he has improved on his strikeout rate (down to 17% in 2013 when he was at 22.8% in 2011), he needs to take more walks. In 1,117 plate appearances over the past two seasons, he has taken just 51 walks–or one walk per every 22 plate appearances. This will likely improve with the Cardinals minor league coaching staff helping him further develop his approach at the plate.

His defense, one of his biggest flaws coming into the draft, has vastly improved in his time in the minor leagues. He had 11 outfield assists last season, and his range factor per game was a respectable 2.41 (Range factor/game = (assists + putouts)/games played). His defense has improved to the point where he won the 2013 MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove for outfielders Overall, he has average to slightly above-average speed giving him the ability to steal bases on occasion and patrol the corner outfield spots with ease.

In conclusion, I consider this a terrific trade for the Cardinals. They not only acquired a center fielder that can stir up some competition with the incumbent, Jon Jay, but also a solid, power-hitting outfield prospect with significant upside. They were able to get both of these players for essentially Freese since I consider Salas just a throw-in player in the deal.

Grichuk will likely start 2014 in newly-purchased, Triple-A Memphis. However, the outfield will be crowded there with Oscar Taveras, James Ramsey, Tommy Pham, and Mike O’Neill all vying for playing time. Because of this, and the fact that I do not see Allen Craig as an outfielder long-term, I would not be surprised if the Cardinals made another deal very soon–one that likely includes slugging first baseman, Matt Adams, a fringe pitcher prospect, and one or two of the excess outfield prospects down on the farm.

Will this trade be for the shortstop of the future? I sure hope so.

In the meantime, let’s extend a warm welcome to the newest members of the St. Louis Cardinals. You can find Grichuk on Twitter: @RGrich15, but I have not found an official account of Bourjos just yet. If Grichuk reads this, maybe he can help us out! 🙂

Until next time…

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe