The Cardinals probably could not have found a more perfect fit than Paul Goldschmidt -- that's on the field and in the clubhouse and community. If there's a prototype of what a Major League player should be, he is it. It's really that simple."I don't know a player in baseball
The Cardinals probably could not have found a more perfect fit than Paul Goldschmidt -- that's on the field and in the clubhouse and community. If there's a prototype of what a Major League player should be, he is it. It's really that simple.
"I don't know a player in baseball that doesn't want to play here," Goldschmidt said on Friday at Busch Stadium. "There are organizations known for greatness, and this is one of them."
• Cardinals introduce slugger Goldschmidt
Goldschmidt will come to love St. Louis, where it's always baseball season, and where Busch Stadium is packed and players are held accountable. That intensity fits his own makeup. And every new generation of Cardinals is compared to every other. To Stan Musial, Bob Gibson and Orlando Cepeda. To Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith and Jose Pujols.
This is life with a franchise that has won 23 pennants and 11 World Series, and where a love of the team becomes embedded in the soul of virtually every kid.
There was a reminder of that on Friday during Goldschmidt's introductory news conference, when Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. introduced the club's new first baseman by running down a list of greats who've played the position through the years: Jim Bottomley and Johnny Mize, Cepeda and Pujols, among others.
When Goldschmidt was asked if that list was intimidating, he smiled and said, "With this organization's history, you can say that about every position."
Goldschmidt is the type of player Cardinals fans appreciate. He is serious about his craft. He cares about being a good teammate.
"As we were doing our due diligence, the most interesting thing about Mr. Goldschmidt is we couldn't find anything negative," said John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' president of baseball operations.
First things first: Goldschmidt is 31 years old, in the prime of his career and on a Hall of Fame arc as a six-time All-Star with a career .934 OPS over his seven full seasons with the D-backs. He has played at least 155 games in each of the past four seasons.
Here's where Goldschmidt ranks among all Major Leaguers the last three seasons:
• 11th in fWAR (15.3)
• 12th in wRC+ (140)
• Ninth in wOBA (.391)
• Third in OBP (.401)
• Eighth in OPS (.929)
• 12th in home runs (93)
• Sixth in runs (318)
• Fifth in walks (294)
Goldschmidt was the 246th player taken in the 2009 Draft, and like his new teammate and fellow Houston-area native, Matt Carpenter, who was a 13th-round pick that year, he will always be driven by people doubting him.
Here's something else about Goldschmidt that's going to play well in St. Louis (or anywhere): He believes that, because he is a Major League player, he has been given a platform to be used for helping others. Goldschmidt made Phoenix his year-round home and became involved with Phoenix Children's Hospital, as well as an assortment of other local institutions. He also funded college scholarships and assisted in refurbishing youth baseball diamonds.
Goldschmidt made the Dean's List every semester he was at Texas State University, and he finished his degree in 2013 by doing homework on flights and during time off in hotels.
He will not be the guy who offers up an array of laughs for reporters, but that's OK, too. When reporters hit him with bigger picture questions on Friday, he kept coming back to a mantra that those who cover the D-backs know well.
"I'm going to try and be part of the team and help us win," Goldschmidt said. "That's where my focus is. Trying to prepare for Opening Day. Honestly, it's not about me. It's about helping us win. Helping this team."
And about that impending free agency after the 2019 season?
"I've just never talked about that stuff," he said. "I try to prepare daily and not have any distractions."
See why Arizona nicknamed him "America's First Baseman?" His arrival in St. Louis doesn't necessarily push the Cardinals past the Brewers and Cubs in the National League Central, but it's a big step in that direction. That St. Louis would trade three young players for someone a year from free agency speaks to how much the Cardinals focused on 2019 after missing the postseason in each of the past three seasons.
When Goldschmidt looked back on nearly a decade with the D-backs, he said two trips to the postseason were the things that stood out and the thing that drives him still. He phrased it perfectly.
"It's the celebrations," Goldschmidt said. "You see ownership, the front office, the whole organization. It's the joy of doing something as a group. Hopefully, we can do it again and even bigger."
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.