6/29/2013 4:50 P.M. ET
Cardinals' Draft strategy paying off so far
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- A little more than three weeks removed from the First-Year Player Draft and two weeks ahead of the signing deadline, the Cardinals are nearing the end of all their Draft-related negotiations.
In reaching an agreement with 33rd-round pick Nicholas Frey on Friday, the Cardinals have now locked up 37 of their 41 Draft selections. That includes every pick taken from rounds one through 28.
"In general, we're really pleased with the outcome," scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said. "We went in with a strategy and executed the strategy and we're getting guys out and playing quickly. That was one of our goals. We wanted to have a Draft that was a combination of some advanced proven performers with some younger, higher-upside, higher-risk guys with a healthy mix of players that play premium positions."
For the second straight year, the Cardinals employed a strategy in which they went over their Draft money pool ($6.9079 million) in order to aggressively go after a handful of elite high school players that had seemingly strong college commitments. The Cardinals saved pool money by signing eight of their first 11 picks for under slot value.
That allowed the organization the flexibility to sign shortstops Oscar Mercado (second round) and Malik Collymore (10th round) to above-slot bonuses. The savings also helped the Cardinals offset the overage incurred in signing three later-round picks -- Steven Farinaro (11th round) Ricardo Bautista (12th round) and DeAndre Asbury (15th round) -- for more than $100,000. Any bonus given to a player after the 10th round that is in excess of $100,000 counts against the organization's pool of money.
In giving Farinaro a signing bonus of $750,000 last week, the Cardinals finish with $7.2324 million in signing bonuses that count against their money pool. Though that total is more than their allocated amount, because it is under a five-percent overage threshold, the organization will incur only a tax on the excess money spent. Going over their pool by more than five percent would have cost the Cardinals a future Draft pick.
"Looking through the lens of trying to maximize our pool, we thought this was the way to maximize it," Kantrovitz said. "I think it'll hold true in future years, as well. Having said that, I think we'll always want to sign as many players as we draft as possible. If we ended up 41-for-41 in signings, we might have looked back and said we could have taken a few more risks. If we end up just short of that, I think we'll see we went in with an appropriate risk strategy and we didn't leave anything untapped."
The Cardinals are still in discussions with 30th-rounder Trey Nielson, who, like Frey, recently underwent Tommy John surgery. Calvin Munson (31st round) has told the organization that he will attend San Diego State University on a football scholarship this fall. Bryan Radziewksi (29th round) has informed the organization that he's likely to return to school. And the Cardinals do not expect to sign 37th-round pick Alan Kruzel.
Miller to stay on schedule after rough start
OAKLAND -- A day after Shelby Miller lasted a career-low 1 2/3 innings in a start against the A's, manager Mike Matheny confirmed that Miller will make his next scheduled start on Wednesday.
With an off-day coming on Monday and with Joe Kelly poised to join the rotation next week, the Cardinals had the flexibility to push Miller's start back two days and move Kelly up to pitch in his place. Instead, the Cardinals saw value in keeping Miller on schedule and giving him as quick an opportunity as possible to erase the taste of Friday's outing.
"We still like what we've got set up," Matheny said. "If you start pushing them back too far, even after a tough one like that, they don't want the extra day. They want to get back out there. Obviously, going less than two innings, he's going to be plenty fresh."
After a mostly uninhibited two months in the rotation, Miller has run into some trouble in June. He has allowed four or more runs in three of his last four outings after not giving up more than three in any of his first 13 starts. Miller pinned the recent troubles mostly on fastball command, adding that he does not feel fatigue setting in as he continues through his first full season in the Majors.
"I feel strong out there," Miller said. "It's just that I'm not executing with fastball command at all. They're right down the middle, the ones that they're hitting. I'm falling behind in the count. They're not even low strikes. It's an easy pitch to hit right there. It seems like the past two games, I've been throwing it exactly where they want to hit it. It's frustrating. I just have to figure some things out throughout this week."
"We all knew that all of our young guys would end up going through some bumps," said Matheny. "It's just a matter of whether they can fix them quickly or else it takes a little longer for them to learn whatever lesson they need to learn. These guys [in this league] make adjustments and don't let you get away with many mistakes. It's a great learning opportunity for Shelby. We hate to fall short on a win, but last night was one of those tough ones that he just had to fight through and now he has to work hard to get back to where he was."
• Continuing his rotation of designated hitters, manager Mike Matheny had Carlos Beltran serve in that role on Saturday. It marked the second time in the last four games that Beltran has been the team's DH.
• With this being the Cardinals' first trip to Oakland since 2007, the majority of players on the roster are making their first ever stop at the O.co Coliseum. And to those who have never been here before -- or, like Matheny, hadn't been back in several years -- the atmosphere has left an impression. There are bells, flags, horns and drums to hear and see. Barking dogs were part of the mix on Friday, too, as part of a Pup at the Park event.
"It reminded me of [playing in the] Dominican and Puerto Rico with all the drums," Matheny said. "There is so much excitement. There is a lot of life. For us, we love that stuff. The worst scenario is going to a place where it's just dead and you can hear the guy in the first row of the upper deck. That's not a good environment. I love all the noise. I haven't been to another place that has this. It's just different here. But it's good. It's a great atmosphere."
• This series between St. Louis and Oakland features two of the three Major League closers to save at least seven games and not blow a save this season. Edward Mujica has converted all 21 of his save opportunities, while Grant Balfour is 18-for-18. Dating back to May 2012, Balfour has converted 36 straight save chances.
• Despite entering Saturday with a 4-6 record in Interleague Play this season, the Cardinals still hold the best overall Interleague winning percentage (.527) in the National League.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.