Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Today's Cardinals chat finds me covering the game here at Roger Dean Stadium. Michael Wacha has allowed his first earned runs of spring training, and the Cardinals and Astros are tied, 2-2, through 3 1/2 innings. Stephen Piscotty, the featured batter in the above photo, just lined out to third base. He's been working on a new swing. Check that out in Tuesday's Post-Dispatch. Rick Hummel is to my right. Benjamin Hochman is also here. I may rope them into answering questions today. We'll see how this goes. This will be a multimedia fest, and I'll do my best to bring you some info and interviews from the game -- while also fielding your questions like they're being fired at 100-mph from a pitching machine and all I've got is my 9 1/2-inch practice fielder's glove. Let's go.
Adidas sneakers. Unless it's an away game. Then I've got some loafers.
(And, yes, I wear socks with the loafers.)
No. They should be delighted because it means he is capable of doing it for them. The WBC comes with risk. We all saw that in Mexico with the Venezuela-Italy game. But so do Grapefruit League games. Any time a pitcher attempts to throw a ball with purpose there is a chance for an injury. I asked John Mozeliak about this risk a few days ago, and he said as a team you just have to come to grips with the possibility an injury could happen when the player is not doing something for his club. That's the reality. There is also a level of trust, too. The Cardinals have to trust that Carlos Martinez will do all he can to make sure he's ready for their season -- while doing all that he's capable of at this point for his national team.
Solid. He allowed three hits so far, but he's going about today similar to his previous starts. He has that extension and over-the-top release that gives him good drive toward the lower part of the zone with his fastball. That makes everything possible. We've seen a curve come effectively out of that arm slot. We've seen the changeup thrive as a result of that angle.
His day is done. Wacha 59 pitches, 40 strikes. He did not walk a batter. K'd four.
That's what you're seeing all spring from him -- a relentless strike-thrower with plus velocity and the angle on the fastball that makes the changeup just devastating.
It is not. There are three weeks remaining. Carpenter has time to get well, get in the lineup, and the Cardinals could see having Martinez and Gyorko at first as the reasons to move Adams if the right deal came along. That said, they are not, at last check, actively shopping him at this point.
Don't. Not now. I'll explain in tomorrow's Post-Dispatch. And, yes, I realize that I have to deliver on that promise, so later this evening when I have to bow out of the chat, you know why. I'm working that story.
It is not because of the WBC. There are two driving reasons for increased security around spring training this year, and yes it does vary from family member to sponsor to media. There are places where the media will go through security multiple times, and sponsors are just waved through with a smile. There are other places were neither family members nor media can go -- and they were allowed in the past. Lots more passes this year, from media to family members to sponsors. The reasons? MLB has heightened its security for all teams, urging them to adopt stricter control of passes and credentials. The Cardinals have added to that by trying to get a Homeland Security designation, and that would be beneficial for insurance.
Paul DeJong is way up there. He's shown what he can do at shortstop -- no small step for him -- and he's maintained his power while even improving what he can do with his swing. He stands out from this group like Jose Martinez does from the group trying to make the major-league roster. From a pitching standpoint, Miguel Socolovich has looked sharp and not gotten the attention he deserves.
It would have happened already. There are rules now because of merchandising. There are special indications -- like the high number guys in spring will move to lower numbers if available because the shirseys aren't really on sale. But an established player has to go through a lot of paperwork and a waiting period to change numbers because the merchandise is on the way.
It appears he's headed for Memphis, yes. But here's the interesting part: He's going to go there as "Slash." That means the Cardinals can script his appearances in the field and on the mound, and they can really get a sense of how that would work in the majors without it coming in a game that matters to the majors. I'm intrigued by this idea, and it does mean that front office can govern the usage. That's fascinating to me. He has an opt-out in the middle of the summer. He told me that he's willing to do that. He gets the experiment aspect of it, and recognizes that maybe the answer cannot be found in the majors before he proves it in the minors.
It's a tricky call, right now. Socolovich is out of options. Right now, today, it appears that he'll be in the bullpen if Trevor Rosenthal isn't ready for opening day. If Rosenthal is, then I doubt they carry the number of pitchers necessary to keep Socolovich.
You would lose that bet because I've heard from a handful of Cardinals fans already that adore the WBC. I'm conflicted. I won't wax romantic about it at all. I don't think this is some magic baseball that is being played. Martinez isn't pitching deep into games. Players aren't at their best. (See: Stanton, Giancarlo) And it's really early in their schedule to be ramping for games that allegedly mean so much. To me, that undermines the idea that these games are infused with the same gravity as a playoff game. Same emotion? Maybe. The atmospheres are great. By far the greatest exhibition atmospheres possible. Seriously. Fun games. Entertaining games. And the players really get into them. Even players not there often talk about wanting to be there because of the crowds, the vibe, the electricity. I wish the games could be played when players and pitchers are at their peak and not out there restrictor-plate racing.
But, heck, let's ask the Cardinals fans undoubtedly populating this chat.
There's one of the no votes.
OK. I'm game. Let's try this:
Martinez, Wainwright, Wacha, Lynn, Leake
Oh, Siegrist, Cecil, Rosenthal (if healthy), Bowman, Broxton, and Socolovich.
The wild card is Tyler Lyons. Earlier I mentioned that Rosenthal's health would be linked to Socolovich, and that was indicated somewhat the other day. You asked my view, and this is my view. If Lyons is available then, for me, he'd be an intriguing addition ahead of Socolovich. One would have to get through waivers to get to the minors, and Lyons could be too valuable to risk losing. He intrigues as that HeLP reliever, or even as a spot starter.
This illustrates how I feel about the WBC. Was talking with officials about this just the other day. I see the passion from the international players and the international fans and the adoration and fun and excitement that the Dominican brings to Miami, and I think, "They're doing it right." The apathy that comes from U.S. fans of baseball, like me, stems from the fact that the best possible U.S. team isn't there on the field, and that's not a reflection of the tournament, that's on us. We should be as energized and excited as other fan bases, and then maybe the best of the best from our country would go there, too.
Can it be both? Sierra has underscored that he has a high ceiling.
One second here. I have to chart this at-bat.
This group is better. Has greater depth. Seriously. I don't recall a time when I've covered the Cardinals and you could say they have shortstops like DeJong, Sosa, Perez, and Cordoba if he comes back. The question is impact. Always is. Alex Reyes helps up the Cardinals chances of having a bona fide star come from this group. Say you consider him a graduate. Then ... who? Lots of players who will contribute. And for the first time in awhile the chance that one or two -- Perez, Sierra, Hudson, DeJong, Alvarez ... -- really break out and assert their place as more than complements or contributors and become standouts.