Howdy for lovely, rainy Jupiter, Fla. I hope you're all doing well. Fire away.
Most of my focus lately has been on the Cardinals and getting to know the players down here in Jupiter. I've followed the Blues closely from down here, but I haven't had much time to keep up with the MLS talks down there. There isn't much to report at this time. other than to say that we should learn more after the voters decide whether to support money for the stadium.
The clubhouse belongs to the players. That is the case on every big league club, so I wouldn't worry about any issues on that front. Dexter Fowler will be a positive influence in that Cardinals' clubhouse. He already has garnered his new teammates' respect.
Jhonny Peralta and Jedd Gyorko both arrived in camp in very good shape. I don't know which picture you saw, but Peralta appears in good shape.
I would say the best odds would go to the one option you didn't provide. If I were betting, I would bet on the Cardinals to finish second in the NL Central. I wouldn't be on them finishing third or lower.
I wouldn't blame the base runners. As with every team, there were times when guys were sent when the players were thrown out. In the Cardinals' case, the overall problem fell on the collective base running not the third or first base coaches.
Sure, go with Italy. They won't bring those races back, though.
I'll be quite candid, the most surprising thing for me this spring has been John Mozeliak's tremendous accessibility. He's arguably the most accessible GM in baseball. I knew about Sandy Alcantara's story, but I didn't realize just how much this kid has sacrificed.
Michael Wacha has looked very good so far. Schafer is quite an intriguing player. He has looked solid in bullpen sessions and his live batting practice. It will be interesting to see his progression.
This is a pretty loaded question. I couldn't possibly know how other minority players feel. It wasn't a big issue, and I didn't interview anybody on that subject other than Fowler. I also spoke with Mozeliak and Matheny about this issue, but it wasn't a big deal.
Traditionally, special instructors in camp receive some compensation. I don't know how much.
The Blues' six-game winning streak which ended Saturday, may have made the Blues hesitant to unload Shattenkirk. They showed tremendous promise during that winning streak before heading into their break on a losing streak. Trading Shattenkirk suddenly doesn't seem like such a clear decision.
Thank you so much. I really enjoyed writing that column. I think it's important for fans to understand where these players come from and how much they sacrifice to chase their big league dreams.
I didn't notice a question in there. I'll address your comment by saying that it's important to realize that Dexter Fowler is a tremendous upgrade over Matt Holliday at this stage in their respective careers.
Yes, I conducted my interview in Spanish. I conduct all of my interviews with Latin American players in Spanish unless they prefer to speak in English. In two decades of covering baseball, I've found that players are more comfortable and eloquent in their native tongues. I even speak Spanish to Alex Reyes when I want more of an exclusive interview, which is how I found out how Carlos Martinez gave him an important pep talk when he was struggling after he was informed that he needed Tommy John surgery.
Poor Arsenal may need to make a managerial change.
That's a good question. I wouldn't say that any of the Cardinals' batters make the distinct sound that you could distinguish like I once did when Mike Piazza was taking batting practice. It's always impressive to hear a 100-mph fastball hit the mitt. It's also impressive, though, to see Carlos Martinez completely fool teammates in live BP with his impressive changeup.
Tiger Woods' problems have been more physical in recent years.
Matt Adams looks very good this spring. I'm betting he will have an impressive showing in the Grapefruit League.
This is the first time I cover spring training with the Cardinals, but it appears that this is the first time the Cardinals take a radio out to the back fields to play music during batting practice.
Mike Matheny wants to win. He knows Dexter Fowler will help the Cardinals win. As long as the players are ready to play, he is not going to oppose a looser environment. If anything, I think the Cardinals realize that Fowler's demeanor could help create a more welcoming environment.
Adams looks great so far. He has drawn praise from Mike Matheny. He showed up to camp ready to impress. I will write a column on him in the next few days.