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A Busy Spring Weekend

Posted on March 19, 2012 at 7:18 AM
Filed Under: Atlanta Braves | Detroit Tigers | Florida Marlins | St. Louis Cardinals
As Opening Day continues to close in on us (just 17 more days!) the games become more important and more and more relevant news comes out of Jupiter.  Such was the case this weekend, as there were a number of things that may impact the club.

First and foremost may be the oblique injury to Skip Schumaker.  Schumaker, who of course wasn't expected to be a starter but was pretty valuable insurance to the club in various places, hurt that muscle on Friday and nothing about the outlook has improved with the passage of time.  According to Mike Matheny, it's worse than the oblique injury that Schmaker had last year in the playoffs, an injury that left him off the NLCS roster and very limited in the World Series.

So what exactly does that mean?  It seems unlikely that Schumaker won't start the season on the disabled list, so a roster spot has opened up.  Who will take it is a pretty solid question.

There could be the case for taking Alex Cora north.  Cora would give another infield presence and he's a veteran guy, but he's not ever shown that he can do much in the way of hitting.  This spring, for example, he's hitting .231 in 13 at-bats.  With Daniel Descalso available to play about any infield position, I'm not sure having an extra insurance policy in Cora is really what the Cardinals need.

I'm guessing that the biggest beneficiary in this might be Erik Komatsu.  Komatsu is hitting .250 this spring, but has four steals and five RBI.  He's been playing regularly and it sounds like Matheny likes what he sees there.  As Komatsu has to be on the roster all year long or offered back to Washington due to his Rule 5 status, I'm thinking this gives the club longer to have him on the roster and see what he can do in the bigs.

So you have Yadier Molina and his backup, Lance Berkman, David Freese, Tyler Greene, Rafael Furcal and Daniel Descalso for the infield positions, leaving you six more slots for the outfielders.  Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday are going.  Hmm, even with Komatsu and maybe Adron Chambers, there's another spot here until Allen Craig is healthy.

With the versatility he's shown this spring, it might very well be that Matt Carpenter gets to head to St. Louis again this season.  Carpenter's hitting .292 this spring with four walks and five runs scored, plus he can play outfield, third base and I believe he took some balls at second base as well.  Having someone like that on the bench is pretty valuable, so if the Cards don't want a true shortstop backup like Cora, Carpenter might be the way to go.

Of course, I'm not sold on Chambers starting the year in the bigs either, figuring the club may want him playing every day.  However, I don't think they'd take another outfield type over him, so he's probably going at least until Craig returns.  Then again, the idea that they'd take Matt Adams north to help him absorb the atmosphere and get his feet wet in the bigs is still on the table.  With Allen Craig making noises about being ready before May, having Adams on the big league squad for a while wouldn't necessarily hinder his growth.  I still think there's only about a 5% chance of that happening, but it'd be intriguing, wouldn't it?  Of course, there's always the possibility that Craig would be ready by Opening Day, rendering that whole discussion (like so many of mine) moot.

On a more positive injury note, Chris Carpenter threw a bullpen session this weekend and pronounced himself pretty "all right" and ready to move on to the next step.  There was an indication he might throw another one on Sunday, but if he did I'm not seeing any reporting of it.  He might go today instead, but I'm thinking that, if he's as good as it sounds, he'll be starting by the end of the week.

If that's the case, and being that the Cards really don't need a fifth starter until almost the end of April due to the off days, it's very possible the Cards go north with eight relievers, put Carp on the DL, and have him come off before the end of the month.  It's also possible that, if he's close, he goes north with the team but misses the first time through the rotation, giving him a little extra time to throw bullpens, etc. to get ready.

Whatever the case, it sounds like Opening Day is out.  Could be that he'll wind up throwing in that Springfield game then, though, which would be a real treat for the fans there.

Cardinals beat the Marlins, had trouble with the Tigers, then beat the Marlins again.  In the latter of those Marlins' games, Adam Wainwright went four innings, allowed only an earned run, and was very happy with the outing.  Bill mentioned last night on Gateway To Baseball Heaven that there was some indications that his velocity dropped in his last inning of work, leading to speculation that he was having some fatigue.  That doesn't seem to have been the case, but it's definitely worth keeping an eye on the next time out as he should go at least five in that start.  However, it sounds like he had his curveball working and when Wainwright has that going, the hitters aren't going to have much fun.

In Saturday's game, the fourth inning was the undoing of Jaime Garcia, who had one of those off Garcia days that we have seen from time to time.  Garcia got out of the fourth when a liner was rocketed to Descalso, who stepped on second to double off the runner.  That was after loading the bases in the second and not allowing a runner.  When the leadoff batter reached in the fifth, that was all for Garcia.

These are the kind of outings that were frustratingly regular for Jaime last year and ones that he's going to have to not have if he's going to be more consistent and take the next step in his career.  Hopefully it was just a spring glitch and I look forward to seeing what he'll do next time out.

After looking at the link above, I realize it's time for, if I were doing Freddie's podcast, would be the "what the heck" segment.  Can I tell you how much I dislike the St. Patrick's Day green jerseys?  Why does baseball decide to go all out for that holiday?  I mean, I'd give you that when a couple of teams had green hats, it was kinda a neat quirk.  Then everyone had green hats and, honestly, not every team looks good in that.  Then they went to the full-blown green jerseys, which looks disastrous with the red and yellow birds on the bat logo sitting on it.  Yet every team now has officially issued St. Patrick's Day jerseys so that MLB can make a few bucks selling them to people that apparently have more money than sense.  What's next, a gold home plate and green bases?  Wearing a whole flag uniform instead of just the caps on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July?  It's ridiculous and it really needs to go.

Cards take on the Braves today with Lance Lynn getting his second start in case he's needed in that role.  The game is on Fox Sports Midwest and, if you have the MLB GameDay Audio option (or live down Atlanta way), on their radio network.

Thanks to everyone that participated in the All-Time Cardinal Team Tournament Round 1.  All the top seeds advance and tomorrow we'll do the Round of 32.  I70 Baseball and Pitchers Hit Eighth should have their regionals up today, so be sure to check back to vote there.  Today's Playing Pepper is the Phillies, so be sure to come back and read it!


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1 Comments

1 Comment | Leave a comment

Ah. I missed coming here and reading these excellent recaps. Feels good. It must be fun to follow a team with open roster spot and competition.

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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
Yadier Molina (5)
Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Pete Kozma (3)
Shelby Miller (3)
Adam Wainwright (3)
Allen Craig (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Tyler Lyons (2)
Edward Mujica (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Goats
Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

2012
Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

2011
Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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