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Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 7:59 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
While it wasn't as dramatic as a hand appearing out of nowhere and making out the roster on the side of the Jupiter clubhouse, the writing on the wall was starting to become clear.  Yesterday, Ronnie Cedeno was weighed on the scales and found wanting, given his release from the club.

For all of those that said the club should have done more to cushion the (fairly expected) loss of Rafael Furcal, I don't disagree.  That said, the way the club went about it gave them a lot of flexibility at a fairly low cost.  Not knowing what they were going to get out of Matt Carpenter at second, they needed some insurance, but they also needed to know they could get away from said insurance without much hassle.  What if Furcal had stayed healthy and Carpenter (as we've seen) adjusted to second?  There'd been way too many middle infielders.  Even with only half of that equation panning out, it was still four guys (Carpenter, Cedeno, Pete Kozma, Daniel Descalso) for two spots.  Did there need to be two backups?

Now, obviously, this means Kozma's going to play pretty regularly.  Descalso can back up there, but you don't need to see him at the position at anything approaching a regular basis.  You do have Greg Garcia and Ryan Jackson in Memphis if something happens to Kozma and we've noted often he's not going to have to hit much to stay a net positive for this lineup.

Of course, the other thing that got Cedeno's kingdom divided and given to the Kozmas and Descalsos was the emergence this spring of Matt Adams.  Even before the spring began, there were public comments about how Adams "didn't have anything to prove at Memphis" and speculation on whether he'd be traded rather than having him be the next Bryan Anderson and lose all his value in the minors.

Instead, Adams has come into camp hitting like everyone knew that he could.  The club put him in pinch-hitting positions, something he'll have to do a good bit of this year, and he came through.  His power looked mighty good in any context, but especially when you looked at a possible bench of Descalso, Cedeno, Ty Wigginton and Shane Robinson.  Having that extra thump really could pay off.

I'm assuming that Cedeno had some other suitors in the offseason--that's the only way a major league contract makes sense instead of a minor league version with an invitation to spring training--so hopefully he finds other work.  Per Derrick Goold, Cedeno only cost the team $284,000, so releasing him even works in the contract of the budget.  They aren't going to go splurge with the other $830,000, but at least they weren't on the hook for the whole thing by making the move now.

The Cedeno move seems to set the offensive side of the opening roster, but the pitching side still has a couple of spots that are to be determined.  The biggest slot, of course, is the fifth starter role and that was on full display yesterday.  In a flip from last week's showdown, Shelby Miller started yesterday's game while Joe Kelly came in to relieve.

As with last week, the starter had more success than the reliever.  Miller threw four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three.  Kelly struggled a bit more, allowing four runs  in his three innings of work, though they (for better or worse, depending on your point of view) all came in the seventh.  Trevor Rosenthal got to work the eighth and Mitchell Boggs the ninth in what hopefully is a preview of Mike Matheny being a little more flexible with his bullpen options this season.

I was thinking last week that the pendulum had swung in the favor of Kelly.  There were lots of reports about the club liking his experience and the statistical battle was fairly close.  That said, being that they haven't named a starter, I'm starting to lean back toward Miller getting it.  (I've always wanted Miller to take that fifth spot, I just wasn't sure he was going to.)  Miller now has a lower spring ERA and is striking out a batter an inning, while Kelly is allowing a .302 batting average against and has walked more than he has fanned.

As always, Pip at Fungoes has put together the definitive statistical analysis on both of these pitchers this spring and arrived at the same conclusion.  The only reason I wouldn't see Miller getting the job is if they don't want Kelly to go to Memphis, as I expect Fernando Salas is going to get the last spot in the bullpen.  There's no shame in him spending some time in the home of the blues, though, as I don't expect he'd be there all season long.

Good to see a little offense in yesterday's game as well.  Allen Craig with the first home run for the Cardinals since [insert your own long-ago event] was helpful and doubles by Carpenter and Descalso after a bunt hit from Kelly gave the Cards some breathing room.  All in all, save for Kelly's flareup, it's the kind of game we will hopefully be seeing a lot of come the regular season.

Speaking of Descalso, I took a peek at his spring training stats.  This is the best spring he's ever had and it looks like the new stance is working for him.  An .809 OPS is well ahead of anything he's done in the regular season before (though, as always, small sample size).  The only drawback to his numbers is that he's only walked once this spring while striking out seven times.  Last year, he walked 12 times in the spring and only struck out eight.  I think that the increase in hitting will balance out a less patient approach at the plate, but it'd be nice to have the best of both worlds.

The Cardinals continue to work on getting Carlos Martinez to the United States.  (The Dominican Republic winning the World Baseball Classic might not help disgruntled government employees work any faster, either.)  It sounds like the team and the player are doing all that they can do, but there's no way Martinez does anything but start at extended spring training when he does get here, as he won't be ready to go when the minor leagues begin their season.  Hopefully this won't cause any long-term setbacks to his development because he's still one of the most exciting prospects in the system, and in this system, that's saying something.

Off day for the Cardinals today, but not for Playing Pepper.  We're talking Padres baseball this afternoon, so come back for that!


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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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