Officially less than a week away from the first spring training game and I cannot wait. A combination of the Redbirds getting all their player deals done in November and the lofty expectations being bestowed upon them for this coming year, has me ready for them to take the field! I am very excited to see if what is on paper will become reality.
The first game is being televised on MLB Network this coming Friday at 1 pm Eastern. Carlos Martinez will be the first of many Cardinal pitchers to throw in that game. Which by itself is an interesting statement put out by the Cardinals with so many starters already competing for the five man rotation. It is safe to assume that Wainwright, Miller and Wacha have their spots locked up in the rotation. Then one would have to think if Jaime Garcia is healthy, everything is pointing to he is 100% and ready to go, he will take the fourth spot. That means that Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn and Martinez are all battling it out for one spot.
If you think the pitching staff is loaded, keep an eye on the outfield positions as well. Matt Holliday in left is the only position that is locked in going into spring training. While it is expected for Allen Craig to take a lot of time in RF giving Matt Adams a lot of time at first, if Adams struggles at all in his sophomore year there is a lot of depth in the OF in order to send Craig back to first. Everyone knows about Bourjos, Taveras, Jay and Robinson. Keep an eye out for Joey Butler who was claimed off the Rangers waivers last October. I don’t think Butler is going to be an every day player, but think he is a dramatic bat improvement off the bench and still a good glove. There is three minor leaguers, Grichuk, Piscotty and O’Neil who have the potential to make this even more complicated if they put together a good spring training.
On Friday we get to start to see the new pieces and how they are going to fit into the equation this year. It is going to be very nice to see Jhonny Peralta in the batting lineup rather than Kozma or Descalso. The Cardinals go from an automatic out in the 8th position to a very high quality bat in the 7th hole. The dramatic improvement in defense in CF by Bourjos will be exciting to watch in a positive manner instead of wondering if Jay is going to take the proper line to the ball.
Personally I will be hoping Ed Easley to play well at catcher and make the team as Molina’s backup. Last year for the Diamondback’s AAA team in 87 games he hit 334 and 6 home runs. Even if would just hit 260 at the major league level that would be a dramatic improvement over any other bat the Cardinals have at backup catcher as a pinch hitter.
Lastly there is the current X factor in free agent Cuban shortstop, Aledmys Diaz, that the Cardinals have made an offer to. If he takes the Cardinals offer, he is expected to make a decision this weekend, then things will really get exciting quickly.
Next weekend we will actually have games, at bats, pitches and actual fielding to talk about. Spring is coming and the Redbirds are getting ready to take the field.