Greetings everybody, and a very happy opening day from Great American Ballpark here in Cincinnati. It's cold and even snowing a bit here, but the lineups are out and the teams are hitting the field for batting practice, and we have Zooms scheduled with Shildt and Mozeliak and Big John Nogowski here shortly. I'll keep the updates coming as we go. We can ride this right up to around first pitch. I've got nowhere else to go. Fire away.
Possible. I think Carlson is going to be just fine in center field. He likes it there. Has good instincts there. There is a very good chance the Cardinals realize having a CF who can hit AND defend at a high level is better than having one who plays elite defense and struggles at the plate against right-handed pitching. The real question will be is Bader in CF and Carlson in RF a better offensive combo than Carlson in in CF and the mix of Williams/Dean/Thomas in RF. Or, does Nogowski make the Cardinals consider shifting O'Neill to RF so he can be a regular player in left field. This first month or so while Bader heals will determine what kind of opportunity awaits Bader when he's healthy. I know the old saying is you don't lose a job to an injury, but that's not always the case.
It's a concern, sure. This is the kind of climate that can lead to one of those dreaded early-season oblique strains. Last time something like that happened was with Tommy Pham in Pittsburgh, I think. Batting practice is as much if not more of a risk than the game.
Great question. One I asked Mozeliak almost exactly. He downplayed the hiding element and said it was just what worked best for Oviedo's schedule. By all accounts, Mozeliak and Shildt included, he had a great spring. DG and I stalked out one of his backfield appearances and he looked really good. Sharp. He got valuable experience last season. If Gant and/or Ponce struggle, or Kim and/or Mikolas experience delays on their roads to recovery, I think Oviedo could be a part of this rotation sooner rather than later. One scout I spoke with at camp said he has upgraded his opinion of Oviedo to potential No. 3 starter after last season.
My guess? Last game of the Marlins series. It's a day game after the night game. Game before the Cardinals head home for the home opener. The unofficial over-under for Knizner starts this season is 31. I'm taking the under.
If we are looking at the snapshot of the team as it starts the season, that's a fair concern. I mean, two of the five members of the starting rotation are not here in Cincinnati. I'm not good at math, but that's like 40 percent, right? Gant would be a starter on a lot of other teams. Ponce? Eh, I'm not so sure about that. Both will be pushed to the bullpen if KK and Mikolas return and pitch well after that. That means the rotation is not at or close to full strength starting out, and there are no guarantees injured pitchers rebound, especially when they are not ready to roll by the season's start. So, yes, totally fair to worry about the rotation. The bullpen is a big strength of this team but it will be dulled if it has to cover a massive amount of innings. Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez are bein counted on in major ways. Yes, Carlos Martinez. Did I mention it's fair to be concerned about the rotation where it stands today? The Cardinals have some time to get guys healthy and figure out if they need to add a starter by the trade deadline. Right now that looks like a wise idea. Oviedo could be a bigger part of this than we realize, too.
Correct. I think they will target a more versatile forward type than the old-school center role Tilmon played. JT could run the court very well but in the half-court setting he didn't have much of a face-the-basket game. I don't have any specific names at this time, in part because I've been pretty heavy on the baseball side of stuff for the past month, but also because the transfer pool just keeps getting deeper by the day. Between the lack of a sit-out year combined with the fact everybody who wants an extra year gets one, there is going to be a flood of both transfers and de-commits as players who were hoping for playing time at a school see that has changed. My advice is to sit tight, no matter what team you are pulling for. These projected rankings that come out as soon as the NCAA Tournament ends are always off, but they will never be more wrong than they will be this season, because of the mass exodus that is taking place across the sport.
The Cardinals find their level and will continue to do so. Arenado's contract was the biggest in team history, by $80 million. Goldschmidt's extension was the biggest one before that. The Cardinals are not likely to be the team that raises the bar in terms of length of commitment and dollars guaranteed, but they do follow the trends. They have to.
If the rotation is rolling and healthy, I think he will be switched out for Kodi Whitley, who offers more one-inning dominance and less long relief. Whitley had a brilliant spring. The bullpen could use him. The 13-14 mix will likely fluctuate throughout the season depending on health and schedule.
Totally fair question. No snark detected. I thought he had a great chance this spring to prove he could be a starter. I think the front office felt the same way. And he could still get that chance this season, but he did not prove it this spring. He started hot, then seemed to cool off right about the time it became clear Tyler O'Neill was stepping forward as the clear starter in left field. When Bader went down with the injury, it created a whole new opportunity for Thomas, but simply put he was just not as convincing as Justin Williams. He had something like two hits in his last 10 at-bats. Didn't beat the door down. Williams has an advantage because he's left-handed. Defensively, Thomas has struggled with balls hit over his head in center field. Thomas is on the taxi squad. He's one injury or slump away from being right back in the mix. But yes I think he has to be disappointed with his spring. Ironically he slumped right about the time I said the Cardinals needed to keep open the idea of starting him. My bad.
Now that we have our first regular-season lineup to analyze, I think we can begin to dig into this more. I'm going to crunch some numbers in the comin days. The upside as you said is more at-bats. The advantage of 2-3 instead of 1-2 is the same argument for 3-4. Potentially more runs to drive in. Over the course of the season the numbers prove the higher you are in the order the more at-bats you get, so it makes sense to try to get more not less for your best hitters. But you still need to attempt to maximize the result of those at-bats. I'm going to dig in on this. Look for a blog or column in the near future.
They should be in the clear now. They had access to them as early as Monday night. Most people who have bad side effects are good to go after a 24 to 48-hour window. That was part of the reason they wanted shots in arms here in Cincinnati after flying in from Florida ASAP.
That signing Trevor Bauer will be a terrible thing for the Dodgers, and that his corrosiveness will tear apart the team from the inside and play a large role in the Padres winning that division.