I got time for this right, Paul Goldschmidt had a chance – just enough of a window – to get something Christmas done after a workout. He had 20 days to go, but felt a self-imposed urgency "to move on a few things" and he wanted to find a gift for his wife Amy.
He drove through the Phoenix area when the phone call came that changed the direction of his car and his career.
Four states and a 22 hour drive away, Cardinal manager Mike Shildt and his staff completed 2½ days of meetings currently Shildt's phone touched. During a collection of the baseball ballroom staff at Busch Stadium, the conversations had long since shifted from revision 201
Shildt's phone chattered with an internal email that would disappear within a month, one sent to a small circle of cardinals. He walked into the coach's lockers, where bench coach Oliver Marmol and video coordinator Chad Blair had not yet left and read them modestly.
His grin gave away the end.
"We have just come through our time making our due diligence on closing our holes – what are we missing, where do we have a hole, how do we make it an advantage – and we have just made a large gap-closing acquisition , "Shildt said. "We got Goldy."
In a four-player deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the cardinals landed a six-hour All-Star who immediately turned two spots of need – monster crime, first-base defense – into forces and shifted where that organization rarely has: in a year.
Cardinals are great that Goldschmidt would be enchanted with a packed atmosphere at Busch Stadium, a headwind to be a cardinal in St. Louis and a franchise culture that demand to fight, persistently. They wanted to prove to him that they could win together now – and in the years to come. On Thursday a week before his first official bat on the bird on the bat, he agreed in a five-year extension through 2024 that made him the highest paid cardinal ever.
General manager Michael Girsch called the Goldschmidt deal "about as big an upgrade as we could do in a single trade," but opposed gravity in 2019. It's "a bit out of proportion", he said. Even with security at first base for a while, the talking point remains "2019 issues." Period. One driving force behind this is that Goldschmidt is at its peak in the age of 31, and two of the Cardinals' other top three hits – Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna – have contracts that may expire in the fall. If the season goes sideways, the club can bid on almost an eighth of the active roster, no strings attached.
When cardinals open their 128th season this week against the division champion Milwaukee at Miller Park, it's not just the new pitch that counts down.
"It's as if you are coming to the end of an era or the start of another," said third baseman Carpenter, who has a club opportunity for 2020. "This could possibly be Adam Wainwight's last year. Yadi (Molina) is close to the end of his contract, my contract is close to the end, so you have the uncertainty of one-year-old guys like Michael Wacha, Ozuna and (before the extension) Goldschmidt. "The main reason why we feel this urgency and how we feel is something less than a posteason quay for this club would be an underperformance."
Echoed Molina: "We must live for the gift. We have been out of the playoffs over the last three years, and we have to get it this year. We can't worry about 2020 or so. We have everything we need to make it happen. "
Last time the Cardinals appeared in a playoff game, Molina saw it from the guests' dugout on Wrigley Field, October 13, 2015. A damaged thumb kept him from appearing in game 4 of a National League Division series, wishing a game and a number of the Arkrival Cubs. The Cardinal's retreat from the playoff relevance was complete. Baseball has never had so many ways in the playoffs and for three years the cardinals couldn't find one. Since their recent appearance in the postseason, the coastal states of Kansas City and the Alter-State Cubs have won championships (2015, 2016). Cardinals drafted Spring Sensation Dakota Hudson eight months after their last playoff game, and the Star Wars franchise, which was dormant for a decade, returned to theaters. A power slumber.
Cardinals have not missed four consecutive playoffs since they went AWOL from 1988-1995. It took precedence over ownership and leadership change. The last time they went so long without a playoff berth, Shildt had the first recurring winning season as coach for West Charlotte High.
Jordan Hicks was not born yet.
"I understand that people will see a team in October," said Cardinals executive John Mozeliak. "I get it."
In the last three seasons, the cardinals have the eighth-most winner in baseball (257). There have been eight teams with a winning record in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Cardinals are the only ones who never reached the playoffs. The other seven did at least twice. This brand, which violates fire and absence from October, addresses the Cardinals middling tie. They have had 11 consecutive winning seasons, but they have completed 33 games behind the Cubs over the past three years. In these seasons the cardinals have missed the playoff with a total of 11 victories combined. It does not intersect as cardinals.
They have lost their way at times, given the way, and still insist that they still know the way. Acquiring an established star like Goldschmidt is a classic trading-now extended gambit of Cardinals, which intends to lean heavily on young, talented, homegrown jugs. They have built former fighting teams in the same way.
They strive to show that the cardinals have not expired.
"We expect to be in the playoffs every year, and that doesn't change this year," said Girsch. "I don't think there's a magic in 2019 that we ignore everything beyond this year. We have not been for three years, so there is an additional element in the need to get back to the playoffs again to win the division. "
Added Mozeliak, president of baseball operations:" The focus on this particular upcoming season had more weight than I have historically taken. I'm not a & # 39; window & # 39; guy. It's not like we've lost years. What we have to do is ask, "Is there a player out there that changes how we look?" "
When the others played out the wishes and desires of the offseason, the cardinals got windy, as Arizona may, perhaps, perhaps be looking to trade their perennial All-Star, Goldschmidt. In Cardinal's postseason planning, his Names ever came up as a goal ("Probably not. Probably not," said Mozeliak.) Rarely do winning teams make one year remove the face of their franchise next. About "95 percent of the time" told such talks nowhere, an official said. This did not.
In November, further talks with Arizona general manager Mike Hazen turned in initial disbelief to the opportunity.
"Text. Call. Guided, "Mozeliak said." Nag. "
Cardinals wanted to improve their defense and setup, and in Goldschmidt they found the player who wanted to do both radically, they have hunted similar players in the latest offseasons and finished runner-up "Bridesmaid", Mozeliak called it. Mozeliak's urgency was as clear as the text messages on his iPhone, so many to Hazen's number, some unruly, and some he read aloud for a reporter:
"Hey, let's know if you have a moment. "
" Look forward to catching up. "
" Just want meaning if we have to speak before Thanksgiving. "
" Could it be possible to speak? "
" Just wanted to check in. "
" Do you have 5 minutes? "
The prize was worth the trouble. From the moment three-time MVP Albert Pujols left the National League, after the Cardinals' championship in 2011, Goldschmidt had arrived as one of the league's leading first basemen. He is twice. finished second in the MVP poll, one of the six players having at least 200 home ground since 2012. His base points since 2012 are the third place on the .400, behind Joey Votto (.441) and Mike Trout (. 420) His slugging percentage (.534) is sixth overall and first at first base in NL. At a position where cardinals committed 20 of their baseball worst 133 mistakes, Goldschmidt has two gold gloves. He is one of Six players who have an OPS better than .900 in 3,000 recordings since 2012, and the other five have contracts that guarantee them more than $ 1.56 billion.
Goldschmidt & 3939 WAR since 2012 is third, according to Baseball-Reference.com, and only another player in the top eight was traded, before he beat free office. Rarely, yes. Matt Holliday had a 21.5 WAR when the cardinals got him; Miguel Cabrera had an 18.3 WAR, at the age of 24, when Detroit grabbed him. The closest comparison is when Philadelphia trades to late Roy Halladay after the 2009 season. Halladay had a 48.5 WAR and a year back on his contract, but a three-year extension made the deal possible. Goldschmidt arrives without such a promise.
"Cardinals intend to take a guy for a year like that – it told me a lot," said Andrew Miller, the All Star star, who signed with Cardinals a few weeks after the Goldschmidt deal. "What he can do to make the people around him better in every way and what they gave up to get him. Whatever his batting average is, no matter what his RBI total is or what his war is – that's one tenth Go ask about in the room. "
The Cardinals camp has had a crackling – and a sharpness of play if it does not succeed in offenses – that have been absent in recent springs. Mozeliak tracks it to Shildt, who took over as manager in July.
Shildt insisted on focusing on what the team did well and rejecting a negativity that brought them. In his 69 games, Cardinals won 41 – a 97-win pace. The cardinals quickly committed themselves to their new manager and saw him and their wealth of young jugs, with the head of starting champion Jack Flaherty and Hicks, as the future core is expected to win now. Shildt borrowed the phrase "normalized excellence" and made it compass for spring training. He brought in the guest's speakers, all of which had the championship pedigree. Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney left a helmet as a gift, signed his name and a catchphrase, "All In."
"Last season it was like looking at a mirror that is foggy and you wonder what you see, and then Shildt came in and wiped it down," Carpenter said. "You're like," OK, wow, I see, I see, it's actually something that can work. "I was sure this group came in this year with what we wanted to see, and then we added pieces and it's really clear."
Players describe how some of them radiate from Goldschmidt.
Miller and Goldschmidt are talking about makeup of championship clubs, and in a recent game Goldschmidt stopped a conversation about another game to see a groundball on the right and see how a younger teammate handled the game. Goldschmidt has run some of the team meetings, been quizzed by relievers on approach, and at least changed one way the cardinals look at the base run. In a start against Mets, Austin Gomber felt an inning slip away with runners on base as Goldschmidt approached him at the height. He told Gomber that the runner would first try to steal, then throw it over and he would come out. Gumbo, desperate for traction, did. Goldschmidt calls it.
"It's fun how far the ripples will go," said federal John Brebbia.
"As long as we've talked about how we need the even bigger bat," a Cardinals player said. "We added a guy and it feels like we got three bats. One raises everyone else. You want the guy who makes your best men more confident. We have that guy."
Goldschmidt's plan the day he was treated to st. Louis was ordering his wife a piece of jewelry, a cross on a necklace for Christmas. He was on his way when a call came from Diamondback's officials and asked if they could come to his house. He was closer to leader Torey Lovullo's home than his own, so they converged to tell him about the trade. The full of Arizona's franchise had been sent to the cardinals for launching Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, a draft election and prospect Andy Young.
When Goldschmidt beat his new No. 46 at a press conference in December and heard the first question, the expectations that came with the Redbirds jersey took roost.
"I think these guys win every year, and then I come in and I learn that it has been more of a fade in the last few years," Goldschmidt said. "It's something that has stood out for me. Hungry. And focus. This is where it comes from. Just getting to the playoffs is not enough."
In the jump in Tampa, three Madden kids played first-class positions of Cardinals & # 39; dugout for autographs. Clark, Cole and Ceci, aged 9, 7 and 10, traveled with their parents, Lance and Cynthia, from St. Louis Lake. They spent time chatting with Shildt, landing some autographs from other players, and when Goldschmidt came over, they showed him the playoff focus he felt was not isolated to the clubhouse. The tabs see the possibility that the cardinals have with him, and they also want jewelry. The biggest difference Goldschmidt is expected to help close is one between Octobers.
It has been a third of Madden's kids life.
"My father says you can help us win the World Series," Clark told Goldschmidt.
Goldschmidt handed in an autograph and grinned with an answer.