We are Live!!! from a palacial suite at a downtown Miami Marriott property, the first stop on a Miami-Anaheim-Cincinnati road trip for the ChatMeister. Those of you preparing to tune into tonight's season opener against the Miami Marlins should be ready for a cultural shock... or at least a shock to the senses. The only thing more absurd than the ballpark dimensions are the harsh green outfield fences and the art deco monstrosity that dominates CF. Crockett and Tubbs ought to be chasing whoever put the thing together. But we digress. After two months of chatting from Planet Jupiter, we're ready to begin the 6-month grind. Thanks for making time during your lunch break to attend. I realize it's a much bigger sacrifice than interrupting actual work time. Surf's up. Let's climb the wave!!!
The loss of Madson is Huuuuuuge for the Reds. I personally considered Madson one of the division's 10 most significant figures this season. Removing him from the equation invites a chaotic run by manager Dusty Baker through his bullpen. The Reds are good but, in my opinion, a step shy of great. Madson's loss elevates the Brewers as the Cardinals' primary competition. Will Brandon Phillips brood through his walk year? Can Scott Rolen's shoulder hold? VCU alum Sean Marshall takes over the closer role. Those are big shoes to wear. He has seven career saves and a lifetime 1.33 WHIP. Those numbers don't suggest dominance.
There were concerns about the toll starting exacted on McClellan last season. McClellan admittedly didn't feel good about his mechanics for much of spring but insisted the issue wasn't health-related. He's looked better his last couple times out, but last year's wear and tear factored heavily in the decision to bypass him this time for a starting role. I do believe McClellan remains available. Victor Marte was arguably one of camp's top three relievers but was sent to Memphis partly because he did not have a place on the 40-man roster. Sanchez needs to make a mechanical adjustment as the club became concerned about his tendency to over-rotate during his delivery, costing him command. McClellan has value to the Cardinals, but RH relief is where the club enjoys its greatest excess.
Both views are held. Martinez impressed during Monday's showing in Springfield and is projected to open the season in the Palm Beach rotation. I would expect this season to determine the club's plan for him.
I wouldn't read much into it. An Opening Night start against Marlins RHP Josh Johnson is not picnic. The Brewers have Greinke and Gallardo waiting in Milwaukee. Tyler will get plenty of time against rights. Descalso, a LH bat, had a very strong camp and will get serious time. However, I wouldn't expect a strict platoon at second base.
We've reported 2-3 months from the time of his diagnosis. That projects to late May to late June.
Probably Shane Robinson. But let's see how these guys perform first. I don't believe it's a rigged process.
Shhhhhh. That would come as jarring news to Lady Diablo.
First of all, Freese is a Padres product. Of the names you mentioned, only Garcia is a starting pitcher. Third, of the organizatonal draftees only Jay remains as a regular for the organization. That should say something. Most of you are familiar with my distrust of the CandyLand projections that accompanied many previous "prospects." I was among the minority that did not have Raz' in the Hall of Fame upon his arrival to STL. Meanwhile, who touted Allen Craig as a potential impact bat? Not many. I perceived a positive shift in 2009, when the club stretched to sign Shelby Miller. It also found Trevor Rosenthal in the 21st round the same year. Dominican prospect Carlos Martinez signed in April 2010. Oscar Taveras was signed in November 2008 and should included among the 2009 class. Tyrell Jenkins was drafted in 2010. These guys are legit. Taveras projects as an everyday outfielder and the rest may one day form 80 percent of the Cardinals starting rotation. Those are huge assets for a team that once applauded itself for stockpiling relievers and complementary position players. Matt Adams and Ryan Jackson are intriguing, as is Kolten Wong. Three years ago I might have counted impact prospects on one hand -- much to the disapproval of the HPGF -- but today there is legitimate cause for optimism.
No, it's not a rigged process regarding who goes when Schu' and Craig return. Barring setback, Craig should be seen before month's end. Schumaker is also progressing very well from an oblique strain.
It's my opinion that the Cardinals are in trouble if Furcal is unavailable or not productive. There is no ready replacement at SS, which explains why the Cardinals stretched to retain Raffy for two years and $14 million guaranteed. Tyler Greene is athletic enough to play SS. Whether the club publicly admits it or not, persistent questions about his hands contributed to a decision to move him to 2B. The Cardinals lack a signature leadoff hitter. It's one reason some are intrigued by the idea of the club pursuing Brandon Phillips should he reach free agency. (Though Phillips' OBP has improved the past three seasons, he still carries a career .322 figure.) Do I think the Cardinals overpaid for Furcal? Yes, given the guarantees to a player who has struggled to stay on the field the past four seasons. However, it's also true the Cardinals would not have reached the postseason without him last year. He is still an impact player when healthy and committed to a line-drive rather than a power approach at the plate.
Let's see: The Cardinals lost arguably the best player of his generation, a Hall of Fame manager and the most respected pitching coach in the game. They hired a first-time manager (at any level) and are confronting the absence of a guy who pitched 273+ innings last season (Carpenter). I'm not saying I buy what those touting the Reds and Brew are selling, but I can see their rationale.
I can't recall a year in which a case could be made for so many teams to win the league. I've typically been a big Braves honk but have backed off them this season. The others you list along with the Brewers, Reds, Marlins and Rockies deserve play. Many are smitten with the Nationals. I tend to think they're a year too early.
Depends on the severity of the their need. My take is that the Cardinals strongly prefer to keep their top 10 prospects, most of whom have been obtained since 2009.
Either that or try decaf.
Let's see how this year plays out. I'm not ready to put the Puma out to pasture quite yet. His value to this club goes beyond last year's impressive numbers. His presence was transformative last year. He helped make the clubhouse a fun place again. The club is going to have to deal with Beltran and Craig next season as well. But there may be a way to satisfy all three should Puma retain a high level of productivity this season.
Matt Carpenter has one hit in 15 major-league at-bats. Let's slow down before we start projecting him in an everyday role. Right now he is a potentially valuable member of the bench who could periodically spell David Freese at third base. I frankly don't see where his everyday opportunity is on this team, barring injury.
First of all, assuming Carp' is "shelved for the year' has no basis at this time. Neither is assuming that Shelby Miller is close to ready for this level. There are many within the organization who see Joe Kelly as a rising option should further need arise within the rotation. Based on his velocity, his maturity and his makeup, Trevor Rosenthal has won many admirers within the organization, including the major-league clubhouse. Folks need to re-think some of their assumptions.
Furcal seemed to get the message about the quality of his at-bats. He became more contact-conscious in the last 10 days of camp -- or about the same time that Matheny publicly challenged Raffy to make some adjustments. As stated before, Furcal is a huge variable on this team.
I noted for 2 years prior to his departure that Pujols leaving was very possible, even probable. Folks didn't want to hear it. Now you're starting to understand why.