OK, I am not normally a blogger who reports. I tell you my opinions. If they happen to sound like a reporter, so be it. So knowing that, here is my 2012 St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training Preview.
Starting Pitching – I think they are good. If and when Adam Wainwright pitches lights out again and Chris Carpenter doesn’t overdo himself, this staff should be fine. Jaime Garcia just needs to be Jaime. Please pay no attention to the elephant in the Jupiter complex that is Roy Oswalt.
Relief Pitching – Woohoo! I think Jason Motte is the closer! But don’t tell anyone. If it doesn’t matter to him, why should it matter to you? J.C. Romero joins Scrabble in the bullpen from the left side. So there seems good. Hmm, what role will Kyle McClellan fill this year or will he be traded in Spring Training? As much as it pains me to see a local guy go, I think he may have the opportunity to start with a lower team so I hope the Cardinals find a match. This area is always intriguing in spring.
Infield – Lance Berkman fills the hole at first left by that guy who left for his own reasons, so there is good. Allen Craig is a good backup there. Rafael Furcal reigns at SS and I sure hope his On Base Percentage is high enough. He worries me. I believe David Freese at 3B will complete the year around 24 homeruns and 88 RBIs. The big question on the infield is at second base. Tyler Greene seems to have the edge going in, but I have the strangest feeling that there will be an outside player brought in who will win the job.
Outfield – Matt Holliday is the glue that will keep the Cardinals together on offense. He will be great in LF as long as no bugs are flying into his ear. Carlos Beltran seems to be the steal of the offseason as the Cardinals continue to amass former Houston Astros. He will bounce from RF to CF with Jon Jay and Allen Craig filling the rest. Jim Edmonds was brought into spring training as an instructor to help the OF with defense. Hope his mentoring helps these guys and all of those in the minors. I am excited to see what ‘Hollywood’ will bring to instructing.
Catching – Yadier Molina is the man here. I hope the contract thing works out in Jupiter or he is traded before the deadline. He is actually starting to rub me the wrong way. You work and live in the US Yadi, please learn better English. Tony Cruz could be the heir apparent though.
Bench – I think you will see Daniel Descalso or Tyler Greene joining the extra OF on the bench. One or both of those two will not be the starter at 2B. Skip Schumaker will be on the bench too as the 5th OF and extra 2B option. Tony Cruz looks to be the backup to Yadi unless Koyie Hill really impresses in Jupiter. I am curious why he was brought in. Brian Anderson lovers should just move on. Will Adron Chambers or Alex Cora round it out? Don’t know yet.
Coaching – Mike Matheny takes over for the retiring Tony LaRussa but Tony will be back for the All Star game. Hope Tony brings Dave Duncan with him to Kansas City. Derek Lilliquist earned lots of fans with his filling in for Duncan last year so I am not worried there. John Mabry joins Mark McGwire in the hitting coach area as Mike Aldrete moves to bench coach. I hope he has absorbed a lot of knowledge from LaRussa so that he can advise Matheny. He seems young for my type of bench coach but Matheny says he is all for young guys with recent experience so he has more faith than me and that’s what is important. Everybody from Whitey Herzog to the stranger Ozzie Smith will be down in Jupiter. There will be a lot of help for the young guys in Florida.
Prospects – Shelby Miller will be in St. Louis this year. I just hope it’s not because we have no choice to bring him up. I hope we will see him in September. I am excited about Matt Adams maybe being our 1B answer for 2013.
Prediction – The Cardinals will break camp with 5 pitchers who can pitch 5-6 innings starting the season and 8 guys in the bullpen. Some trade or surprising move will happen during Spring Training because Matheny will need to show who is in charge. I am looking forward to seeing what happens as the road to Miami and Opening Day has already started.