Salutations. While the Cardinals play up in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Rick Hummel mans the helm for game coverage, I'm back in the (remodeled) media bunker at Roger Dean Stadium, positioned here for the chat and the final push of copy for the 2014 Cardinals Season Preview Special Section, on newsstands next weekend. (Gratuitous ballpark.) Welcome the final chat of spring training. When next we reconvene, the Cardinals regular season will be about to start or will have already started. The rotation is set. The bullpen has a temp job still open. Few questions remain for the Cardinals, and those that do are of the when-does-the-team-workout-on-Sunday variety. Got some multi-media things up my sleeve here for the chat. So let's get going ...
You don't have to squint to see that happening at some point in 2014 if he continues to roll like he has been. Injuries happen. Inconsistency is guaranteed. And there Piscotty would be with a righthanded bat that could come up, provide in the short-term, and offer an element off the bench that just isn't there right now for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals need more info before weighing in, they said. The concern is that if Garcia is used as a reliever could he be used on back-to-back days? What if he cannot be relied on for that kind of work? The Cardinals would have a reliever in the bullpen who can only be used when "scheduled" and that is no way to run a bullpen. As Jason Motte has said about his return: He'll be back when he doesn't have to be "babied" out there and when he can pitch whenever they call, not when he's scheduled to help.
Seems like 175 is a good estimate if he remains in the rotation. The better question is how many will they get from the righty.
There are a lot of injuries on the Reds side right, and a couple of their options are throwing in games now just to get a feel for their readiness. From C. Trent Rosecrans at Cincinnati.com this morning:
"I'm still trying to figure out if we have an Opening Day starter and who pitches Game 2," Price said Sunday. "It will all come out in the wash. We'll have someone show up to pitch Opening Day – we just don't know who that guy is yet. Hopefully if we can get through the middle of this coming week here, we should be able to set our rotation. It's unbelievable that it won't be until the 26th that we actually know who our 1-2-3 starters are going to be."
The Cardinals are set up right now to go Wainwright, Wacha, Lynn, Miller, and Kelly. Lynn and Miller could flip-flop so that Miller's first start of the season is not against the team that he didn't face in the postseason.
Like we expected. A path of least resistance decision, and one that clearly took into account the view the field staff had of the bullpen. Martinez > Kelly in the eighth vs. Martinez or Kelly in the rotation. They sided with the "known quantity" in the bullpen, as Matheny said, and by doing so said that they will get the regular, predictable work from Kelly in the rotation and begin saving innings for Martinez right from the start so that he can be in the role later, if needed. Not a surprise.
He's disappointed. He sure did like the eighth inning last year. Who doesn't like throwing 100? But until, you know, we see him in the eighth inning or see him on the mound at all this spring in a relief role I guess we don't truly know if he's "embraced " it. I think he'll learn to enjoy it.
Death, taxes, and blown saves. All inevitable things we are trying to avoid.
He's playing on the minor-league fields, starting in RF for Class AAA Memphis. He's hitting. He had a fine at-bat against Randy Choate the other day before striking out on a fastball that may have been up and out of the zone. Choate got ahead 0-2. Then Taveras worked his way back into the count, 2-2, before taking the calling third strike. He's hitting. He's playing. He'll get his chance maybe to take out some aggression on the big-league team Friday.
Same idea, different acronym. It has been suggested that the name changes to BCIB.
Absolutely. Cardinals have been scrolling through the lists for a suitable option. None has surfaced publicly, if there is one that they see on the market.
The Cardinals don't announce those salaries. They never have. Some of them have been reported by folks like me. Lance Lynn received $535,000 for the coming season -- and that is the max allowed for a player with his experience by the in-house formula the Cardinals use. It is not based on the "value" to the team, but on a formula the Cardinals have for service time, position, and contribution. That formula is rigid, and the Cardinals can impose on the player the salary if they are unable to come to an agreement.
Scott Moore, on a technicality. He and Stephen Piscotty were tied later into spring than ever before. And then neither of them played in the same game, but Moore was on deck, ready to hit, when the final out of that game was recorded. Judges ruled the manager's decision to use him in that spot was what won the Survivor: Jupiter 2014 challenge.
We have heard a lot of positives in the past week about Rondon. A long reliever need could send them to McGregor, who has a strong sinker but hasn't been used a whole lot. Today could be telling.
It's way different. During spring training, there are workouts and drills all morning and then there is the game. The drills and work gets less and less later into March, but there are still things that the pitchers and hitters are doing here that they won't do as extensively or as often as up there during the regular season. One example is infield. The Cardinals take infield more often than most teams during the regular season, but they aren't doing it the same way and everyday as they do it down here. They will do more conditioning drills down here. The workouts and stuff off the field and in the weight room are still part of the regular season.
It has a name. We have the technology. We're working on a day and length. When we do it we want to make sure that it's something regular and something of quality, high high quality.
Hello out there to the edge of the Garden of the Gods. Hope you're enjoying a fantastic ski season. McGregor is currently positioned as that option, and he does bring a lot of similarities to the competition that, say, Maness did last year with that sinker. He could be insurance in that way. The Cardinals would be open to a long reliever from outside the organization, though I'm not sure they would like to flip Kozma or Shane Robinson for that long reliever. It's possible. But is that the appropriate return? They wouldn't have a hard time finding that long reliever role on the open market if they went that route, and then it would only cost money.
Hummel and I work together on the schedule of who goes where here at Spring Training. I enjoy going to Orlando and Fort Myers and got in the habit of those trips back when there were three folks on the beat. I like the road. I like the drive. I added a Pearl Jam concert from 1995 at Red Rocks in Colorado to my iPod and was really looking forward to the drive to PSL today. Heck, I'm not going to see my Mets beat writer pals for another month now. So, all things being equal I wouldn't mind going to Tradition Field one last time this spring. But my assignments keep me here in Jupiter and Hummel volunteered to make the trip and cover the game if I contributed with some reporting back here.
The Dodgers have the wider delta as they like to say around here. They could be a juggernaut. They could implode. Lots of talent. Very tenuous mix.
I think good hitters are good hitters are good hitters. But I don't think that's the entire reason for lineup protection. There are a few elements to consider that don't get talked enough about as part of the lineup protection notion:
-- The best way to assure that a primo hitter like Cabrera gets pitches to hit isn't ONLY to have an All-Star behind him, but put lots of runners on base ahead of him. That's most valuable. They can't put Cabrera anywhere if the guys ahead of him are always on base. That's the best protection there is.
-- Hitting in front of Pujols in his prime was one of the best spots in baseball to hit because he was providing the protection. Batting second in those days was a license to do damage.
-- The notion of protection behind a great hitter is more protecting the team. Actually, capitalizing is a better word than protecting. What's the best way to capitalize having a hitter in the order who always gets on base -- why having a dude behind him who can drive him home. That's how. That's the "protection" that really matters -- a hitter who is going to pound them when that All-Star dude is on base.