Here are a couple of excerpts from my Friday-morning interview with Cards chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. on 101 ESPN.
DeWitt touched on a number of topics during our conversation and you’ll be able to listen to the audio here on our site. Check back later at 101sports.com … as I write this, the audio should be available and posted soon. For now, here’s a sample from the interview …
With the MLB non-waivers trade deadline approaching are the Cardinals poised to be sellers, buyers, or both?
“We’re not buyers or sellers,” DeWitt said. “We’ve got a lot of young talent at the Major League level and in the higher levels of the minor leagues and in lower levels for that matter. We’re going to be opportunistic if we think we can improve the club for this year, we will do it in a value for value basis. Or if we think that it’s appropriate to improve the club maybe the balance of the year and maybe more next year, we’d consider doing it as well.
“I hope we get into a good run here where by the end of July were right there positioned to make a good run at winning the Central. But deals are hard now too, clubs are reluctant to give you really strong young players even if you decide to try and go that way, particularly those that are close to the Major League level.
“We’re opportunistic, if we think we can get talent where we need it whether it is young or more veteran and we think that can help us this year, great. If it’s something that is maybe neutral this year bit maybe helps us next year, great too.
“We’re open for business. We’re not buyers or sellers, we’re dealers. As always, I am prepared to invest, spend money and acquire players and invest short term and long term.”
On Thursday the Cubs gave up two elite prospects (plus two lesser prospects) to acquire LH starting pitcher Jose Quintana from the White Sox. To procure Quintana the Cubs were willing to part with the Eloy Jimenez, 20, a power-hitting outfielder who is rated as the No. 5 overall prospect in MLB. The Cubs also agreed to include RH power pitcher Dylan Cease, who throws 100 mph. Both prospects were in Class A at the time of the trade.
What did DeWitt think of the Cubs’ big move for Quintana?
“I think that was a good acquisition for them,” DeWitt said.
“It came at a cost. From what I gather (Jimenez) is an excellent prospect. They have a good system; over a three-to-five year period when their team wasn’t very good, they picked at top of the draft and built up a really good system, did well in International signings.
“They’ve got surplus to deal, they’re going for it this year to their credit, so are we, and he’ll help them.”
Touching on some other areas….
+ DeWitt said he feels good about the Cardinals as they enter the unofficial second half of the season. He was encouraged by their 10-5 record going into the All-Star break and likes what he’s seeing from Memphis call-ups Tommy Pham, Paul DeJong and Luke Voit.
+ I’m paraphrasing here, but DeWitt said the Cardinals were “hard to watch” at times during the season’s first half because of frequent fundamental lapses. DeWitt takes pride in the organization’s longstanding reputation — established by the late George Kissell — for teaching, instruction and sharp fundamentals.
+ As I’ve suggested repeatedly on my show and in my column, DeWitt firmly supports manager Mike Matheny — and that remains unchanged. As I’ve said, the idea of Matheny being at risk of losing his job if the Cardinals have a disappointing second half is disconnected from reality. DeWitt absolutely believes that Matheny is the right manager for this job. DeWitt said he believes Matheny has improved tactically.
“From a strategic standpoint I think he’s done a nice job, and sometimes things don’t work out for you,” DeWitt said. “We came in with high expectations with some guys who had tough starts. And he put them in a position to succeed and sometimes they didn’t. And you can’t blame the manager for that. I just thought it was one of those starts to the season where we didn’t perform up to expectations. But that’s why you play 162 games, and at the end of the year we hope we are where we want to be.”