Feb 19, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter (29) talks with Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist (36) during the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

The Dynamic Duo Reports and Other Random Spring Training Thoughts

I’m not sure if it is the fabulous February weather (68 degrees here today), my excitement about Spring Training starting, or my short attention span but I can’t seem to focus on one topic to write about today. Fortunately it is my prerogative as a staff writer for this site to write about what I want to. There have been several small stories that have grabbed my interest the last couple of days. I thought I would recap these and offer my insight to a few of these items.

I am going to assume that David Freese is Robin to Matt Holliday’s Batman. These two have been everywhere together this offseason. They have worked out together. They have taken Squash lessons and played together. They even reported to camp together. I have to admit this may be my favorite “bromance”. I am excited to see Holliday take such an interest in our hopeful up and coming star. I had previously thought Holliday was a little arrogant and aloof. I am not sure what has changed with him. I would like to think it is the clubhouse presence of Lance Berkman and his mentoring of youngsters last season that has brought him around. I am looking forward to watching this play out and how this impacts the other youngsters on the club.

Speaking of Freese I am pleased to see that the St. Louis Cardinals have recently agreed to terms with him and John Jay. The Birds were able to get both of them for the bargain price of $508K and $504K (slightly over the league minimum $480K). I am glad to see the organization did not overspend just to reward Freese for his postseason heroics. Don’t get me wrong, I think he deserves a reward but I would like to see how he performs this season and then look at a long-term deal. The Cards should have contracts sewn up for Marc Rzepczynski, Lance Lynn and Mitchell Boggs by the end of the week also. I am hoping to see some big things out of this group, but Freese in particular.

It is just business. Yadier Molina confirmed suspicions this week that he is ready to test the free agent market if necessary. I wouldn’t look for him to offer a hometown discount either. Some readers make take issue with my attitude about this after some comments I have previously made about the departure of Albert Pujols. This is a different situation all around. Yadi has learned a lot of lessons from his friend and previous teammate and his journey into and out of free agency this past year. I can appreciate the fact that Yadi wants to get paid. He isn’t making Pujols money currently nor will he command it if he enters free agency. In this writer’s opinion Yadi is the best National League Catcher. I would also rank him in the top two in the Major Leagues. Joe Mauer may be the only catcher that is better, but I would argue Yadi is much better defensively. So where does that leave us? I would project that Yadi should be in the neighborhood of $10-$12 million an year for 3-5 years. That is an awful nice neighborhood and one I think the Cards should be able to make happen. I would prefer to see the 3 year side if that for a 30 year old catcher that is not the strongest bat consistently. I hope they are able to reach an agreement long before he heads to the free agent market to prevent another Redbird Nation heartbreak.

I wonder if I am the only one who is holding my breath with every pitch I see Adam Wainwright throw. I am nervous that he may be coming back to quickly. I know that there are doctors, coaches, and agents with much more experience and knowledge than I have monitoring every move, but that hasn’t quelled any of my concerns. I know the Cardinals are going to need him more than last year with the loss of offensive production this offseason. While I don’t think the Cards will be much worse offensively than last year, but Wainwright needs to return to form in order for a championship run to take place.

Will there be a return to Whiteyball? I wrote previously about former Cardinals returning to camp in teaching roles. While this is not a new occurrence the number of former greats returning this year seems to be higher, or at least more exciting. I didn’t know at the time I wrote my previous article that Willie McGee and Lou Brock were going to be in camp to help with base running and stealing. When you throw Ozzie Smith in that mix the number of stolen bases is staggering! While this is still a National League team built on an American League frame there is some speed (Green, Beltran, Descalso, etc.). There is actually no chance it will be a complete return to Whiteyball. The league is so drastically different I don’t think we will ever see a player with 100 stolen bases in a season. I am glad to see Mike Matheny and his staff focus on this aspect of the game. Small ball can win a lot of ballgames with the potential pitching staff the Cardinals have.

The first full team workout is just two days away. The first Spring Training game is on March 5th. I can’t wait to see how this team comes together under new Skipper Matheny. He continues to impress me every day. He is a smart guy and he is proving it with his deft handling of the pressure and the media. I think this is going to be an exciting season. I am ready to see the Birds hit the field and see exactly how Matheny and his staff bring the team together. It’s getting closer everyday.

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Tags: Adam Wainwright Albert Pujols Cardinals David Freese Joe Mauer John Jay Lance Lynn Lou Brock Marc Rzepczynski Matt Holliday Mike Matheny Mitchell Boggs Ozzie Smith St Louis Cardinals Willie McGee Yadier Molina

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