March 30, 2014
Finally, the last weekend of exhibition games! So close to Opening Day and still it’s not a national holiday.
So what did the St. Louis Cardinals learn from Spring Training in Jupiter, Florida this year? Aside from losing left-handed starter Jaime Garcia to more shoulder issues, the Cards came away from the Grapefruit League pretty healthy this spring – a big improvement over last year. And it looks like the big bats in the Cards’ line up are ready to go.
Matt Holiday, Allen Craig, and Yadier Molina each had a good spring tune up. Matt Carpenter is now at 3B with a big contract extension and great expectations to play like he did in 2013, an All-Star leading the league in hits and doubles. The new guy, Jhonny Peralta looks to be a good fit for the Redbirds at short, and the big guy, Big City Matt Adams proved that he deserves to start at first base day-in-and-day out this year. Opening Day is oh so close!
Sorting out the competition for playing time, Kolten Wong got hot this spring and won the job at 2nd base. Utility infielder Daniel Descalso played well too, so getting at-bats for newcomer Mark Ellis might be tough in the early going so long as Wong and Descalso keep hitting. Right now, that’s a good problem to have.
The competition in center field wasn’t much of a competition for Peter Bourjos. He flashed the leather in CF and showed his speed on the bases too. For John Jay, it looks like he’ll be platooning all three outfield spots along with Shane Robinson this season. Another good problem to have!
Like the big bats, the Cards’ starters accomplished what they set out to do. Joe Kelly won the 5th spot in the rotation to join Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, and Shelby Miller in what may be the best starting five in the National League. The reliever spots haven’t changed much since the Cardinals won their 19th Pennant last year. Trevor Rosenthal gets the closer role and Carlos Martinez is the 8th inning set up. Deeper into the pitching staff, it’s a big plus having Chris Carpenter in his new role as a special assistant to the General Manager. Excellent move for everyone in the organization!
Down on the farm it’s gonna be fun watching the progress of Aledmys Dias, the Cuban defector and phenom shortstop who just signed a 4-year deal with the Cardinals. No doubt, his first game was pretty impressive last week going 2-for-2, playing steady defense. He’ll open the season playing for the AA Springfield Cardinals in the Texas League.
If you haven’t noticed, an outfield log jam is on the way from Springfield to Memphis and St. Louis. Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuck made names for themselves in spring camp, displaying both the talent and hard work to make the big league club soon. Grichuck was obtained (with Bourjos) from Anaheim in the David Freese deal, and Piscotty was another selection the Cards got in the Albert Pujols defection. Don’t be surprised if they get the call up even before top prospect Oscar Taveras.
Finally, the win-loss record; it doesn’t really matter. Wins and losses in Spring Training really are meaningless since pitching changes are based solely on getting starters and relievers enough work to be ready for the Opener. So, Cards fans… that 11-13 Cards’ record from Jupiter? Just throw it out the window, it’s not an indicator of how well the Cardinals will compete this year in defending their National League Pennant.
Alright now, let’s start the real games!
Go Go Cards!