Welcome from sunny Florida. The Cardinals are going through their paces in their first official workout of the spring, minus Matt Carpenter who is tending to a stiff back which he insists is not serious. Fire away with questions and comments.
Al Lang Stadium had its charm _ and its seagulls. I'm thinking the current 15-15 breakdown of Florida and Arizona-based teams will continue, now that the Asros and Nationals are teamed in West Palm Beach and the Braves will be in the North Port, Fla., area next year.
First, Kolten Wong will not be a platoon second baseman. He just doesn't need to get hurt so much. The big bat of Jose Martinez has forced the Cardinals' hand a bit at first base and Mike Matheny will have to decide how 1,200 at-bats are apportioned among Matt Carpenter, Jedd Gyorko (third base) and Martinez. I don't see this as a problem so far although you don't see many teams platooning at either third or first. But, as Carpenter pointed out Sunday, somebody always gets hurt. For now, it is he although he thinks it is not serious.
You always consider players like that in one- or two-year situations. But, I think the only one they would seriously consider among that trifecta is Arrieta. They don't deem Moustakos any better than what they have and they aren't likely to go too big for Holland.
So far, Norris is a starter. And Reyes is neither until May 1 or so. But, yes, somebody who was in the Cardinals' bullpen at the end of last season will not be there at the start of this season. And you didn't include Brebbia. Those who have options left will be using them. And they might go with eight relievers on occasion.
Carpenter actually has been working hard here for a few weeks, so he's just taking a step back for a while. At least that's how it appears _ for now.
The Cardinals figure Jose Martinez is their insurance at first base. We shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves on Carpenter's health but he has had some issues in the last few years.
Sutter, then Lee Smith, Tom Henke, Todd Worrell. . . and Rene Arocha.
They're keeping an eye on that. If Carpenter plays primarily at only one position it will be first base.
I suspect the Cardinals inquired about Odorizzi. In truth, he never has won more than 11 games and was 10-8 last year, so I don't think you can warrant giving up too much for him. They like Flaherty as much or more.
Yes, I would think Arrieta will be signed shortly, as well as J.D. Martinez. And the wives of some other free agents will be pushing their husbands to get off the couch and get a job, no matter what the market is.
I don't think next year had much to do with it. They just weren't overwhelmed with what they saw this year, as far as locking somebody down for more years than they would want, especially in the pitching area where they think thee or four prospects will make their team at some point this season.
Nobody much steals bases anymore. It is not so much about speed, it's about on-base percentage. Carpenter has none of the former and plenty of the latter. .
Jose Martinez has a lot to do with this. His bat plays as a regular, even though his glove may not. But there will be ways to use him. Carpenter isn't really great defensively at any position although he got better at first. But, with his on-base percentage and 20 to 30 homer power, he has to be in there every day somewhere.
Norris had 19 saves last season, which is pretty good for a castoff and more than anybody else on the Cardinals' club had last season. Mujica isn't even in big-league camp. Motte is a no-risk invite. He lives in Memphis anyway and would play for that team until there was a need for him here. Or not.
As reported in the Post-Dispatch, Norris will be stretched out as a starter as insurance in case Wainwright is not serviceable anymore. If Wainwright and the rest of the starters are healthy, Norris would go back to the bullpen.
If you think we shouldn't bother to play the season, then so be it. I don't recall too many people picking the Milwaukee Brewers to contend for the division title last season. And I don't think too many people had the Twins in the playoffs either. Predictions are made by sports writers and commentators. And what do we know? The players don't really care much about prognostications, nor should they. There will be any number of injuries and surprises this season in both leagues that will alter the pre-season landscape.
So far, I perceive the rotation as Martinez, Wacha, Weaver, Mikolas, Wainwright. Norris would be next. Flaherty would be ready at Memphis. Reyes perhaps in June.
We really don't know how good prospects are when they're used as barter for veteran pitchers. I trust what the Twins got was more than mid-level but it isn't exactly as if Odorizzi is a top-shelf pitcher just yet. He is capable and he is 40-38.
The Cardinals simply don't want to pay for proven arms that they might not want a year or more from now. They value their prospects. Like it or not, that is their philosophy.