The Cardinals are starting to look good. Mikolas had a good start. Wainwright is looking really good, and Weaver has been lights out. Martinez and Wacha have been fine, and the lineup is starting to pick it up at the plate over the last two games.
Context is important. I wasn't there, but I know Keuchel well and respect him. He's candid. I'm pretty sure he was merely making a statement. I assume somebody asked him about the Cubs' struggles early last year and he merely meant that the Astros shouldn't be judged by what the Cubs did. He's right, by the way.
The biggest concern continues to be the closer's position. They've yet to find a closer yet. That hole could sabotage the season if they don't fill it. They know that, of course.
As I wrote the Sunday before they went on their season-altering losing streak: Will the real Blues please stand up? I will wait until they put together two decent weeks before I think they're a legit playoff contender again.
The Cardinals need Carpenter to play regularly. He's one of their best hitters and a lefthanded bat on a roster that's heavily righthanded. Fans need to consider the value of a lefthanded bat when they dismiss the need for Carpenter to play.
Jose Martinez will see plenty of playing time. It's too early to hand Leone the closer's role, but he's the likely frontrunner at this point.
As of today, John Mozeliak said the team is still wasn't certain if they'll use Reyes out of the bullpen or the rotation when he's ready for the majors. If he's in the bullpen, though, he's probably going to be the closer eventually because he'll be the best arm in the bullpen. That's just a prediction. I don't know for certain, obviously.
There's no doubt the Cubs are the favorites in the NL Central, but I wouldn't concede the division to them just yet.
If everything goes right for the Cardinals, they'll win 100 games. They don't need everything to go right to win 90 games, and I can promise you that everything will not go right because it never does in baseball. Their depth is stronger than the critics care to admit.
I can absolutely see the Cardinals packaging some of their outfield depth and moving it for a big piece at the trade deadline if they're in contention.
As Jimy Williams would say, players make the lineup card. If Wong gets off to a strong season and keeps hitting he'll hit himself higher up the lineup. He could be a good table setter ahead of Ozuna.
It will see how Donaldson is viewed after the season. If we learned anything this offseason, it's that we shouldn't presume to know how much money guys are going to get in free agency next year. I was one of many writers who assumed players such as Lance Lynn and Jake Arrieta would get much better long-term deals than the contracts they accepted.
This is not basically the same team. Potential ace Alex Reyes is expected to be healthy, and Ozuna is a major addition regardless of what the critics might claim.
Yes, he has a chance. He threw a scoreless inning today to lower his spring ERA to 1.50.
If you don't see Pham's value after the season he had last year, I cannot help you.
All I can tell you is that he's committed to prove his critics wrong. I wouldn't bet against him.
I don't think it worries them. They know that they can still compete for top free agents when they're willing to play in that market. I also assume that they don't mind if some of those long, risky contracts end up with other organization. The Heyward Cubs deal proved to be a win-win for all parties involved. His poor first season in Chicago would have crushed the Cardinals in 2016, but the Cubs were deep enough to cope with his struggles.
Gregerson is expected to be ready for the season, John Mozeliak told me today. There is no frontrunner for the closer's job, though, so don't rule out Leone closing.
I'm a devout Catholic, and I'm proud of it. I share thoughts about my faith on Twitter often, especially after I leave mass on Sunday and pray for all of us. Thanks for asking. Have a blessed day.
I am not necessarily against it, especially if you're going to go to your bullpen often before a starters faces a lineup the third time through the order. Remember what the metrics show, so you have to assume that the smart thing will be to pull Wainwright, Wacha and Mikolas before they face a team a third time through the order. More often than not, that's going to be at some point during the seventh inning, if not sixth in drastic cases. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. So are you going to rip Matheny for leaving the guys to face a lineup a third time through the order or are you going to rip him for going to his bullpen too often. It's much easier to manage from the press box and the stands, by the way.
I would assume they'd send him back to Memphis. There's no need to release him.
Everybody who has seen Alex Reyes throw in the bullpen sessions or live bullpen sessions has been impressed. Wainwright told me that Reyes looks like he could be an ace-type pitcher by the end of the season. I don't know about you, but I'll take Wainwright's word. He's not prone to outrageous statements.
He has looked good, and it's fair to assume by his performance last year that he'll be fine at the plate.
Thanks for participating in this week's chat. I have to run to get ready for The Great Taste tonight. I must say this was one of the best chats ever for me. Thanks for being so amazing. Now I'm off to attend one of the best events on the St. Louis calendar.