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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