The smell of fresh cut grass and warm weather is almost here. Spring training is officially underway for the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s while most teams including the St. Louis Cardinals will have pitchers and catchers report this weekend. This means (thankfully) that the promise of another baseball season will be here. With the start of spring training, comes questions for each team, that hopefully, will start to find out answers to before the regular season begins. Here’s a look at five questions for the Cardinals.
1. How you doin’ Adam Wainwright?
Sabermetrically speaking, losing Albert Pujols and replacing him with Adam Wainwright is basically a wash. I know if I’m running a team, I may take the ace pitcher over the slugger. However, Wainwright is going to be a full year removed from Tommy John surgery. It usually takes guys a little longer than that to be at 100 percent. It’s going to be very interesting to see how much he can throw during spring training and how much he can give the Cardinals during the season. I think he’ll pitch well for the Cardinals this season, but may not be in full Cy Young form until 2013.
2. What’s on second?
Second base will be a position of mystery for the Cardinals. The three guys in competition will be Daniel Descalso, Skip Schumaker and Tyler Greene. Greene is out of options, so even if he doesn’t win the job, he will have a spot on the roster, unless the Cardinals don’t want to keep him. It seems like the favorite is Descalso. I have pined for Schumaker to be the starter in other pieces on the site, however he does make sense as a utility, left-handed bat off the bench. My guess is Descalso will be at second in Miami on opening night.
3. Will relief be spelled M-O-T-T-E?
Jason Motte stepped up late in the season, along with the rest of the bullpen, and stabilized something that was a weakness throughout the majority of 2011. Now can he keep it up for a full season? Also gone are veteran stalwarts Octavio Dotel and Arthur Rhodes. JC Romero was brought in to fill that void as a second lefty out of the pen. Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas will be counted on to setup for Motte. If Motte can close games like he showed in the postseason and the bullpen pitches well, it will be a big key to the Cards success. A lot of that may hinge on how its managed…
4. How will the new staff effect the team?
Mike Matheny has never managed a game in his life. Dave Duncan is taking a leave of absence, so bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist will be elevated to pitching coach until Duncan returns. No one can be sure when that is. Tony LaRussa knew what buttons to push, especially in the postseason, in leading the Cardinals to two championships in his tenure. It will be interesting to see the style Matheny plays.
5. Who could steal a roster spot with a good camp?
Two guys to watch for in that respect is Lance Lynn and Adron Chambers. Lynn pitched well down the stretch for the Cardinals and was a part of the bullpen in the postseason. If he has a good camp and someone like Mitchell Boggs for example doesn’t, Lynn could find his way on the club. Chambers adds speed to a team and he could be that sneaky pinch runner off the bench that many clubs have as well as backup outfielder. He too was on the team during the postseason.