Last week, I broke down which positions are up for grabs in spring training and who the major contenders are. As the Cardinals are only four games deep into spring training, obviously none of these battles are settled just yet. Today, though, I’m gonna look at the contenders’ performances to see if anyone is emerging as a front runner in any of the positional battles.
New manager Mike Matheny has gotten creative to get all of the contenders in this battle playing time as it is the position that is the most undecided. So far, Daniel Descalso has emerged as a front runner, but, as stated in the lead, these numbers are obviously a very small sample size. I don’t expect Descalso to keep his production up for the entirety of spring training, but if he doesn’t fall too far he can definitely win this position
When I first mentioned this battle, I said that it was more Carpenter’s job to win than Freese’s to lose. So far, Carpenter hasn’t blown anyone away in spring training. If he doesn’t surge soon, then he will lose his shot at the starting gig.
Originally, I said this battle was going to boil down to whether Matheny wants an offensive-minded backup or a defensive-minded backup. In an incredibly small sample, Cruz has made it a moot point as he is producing offensively. As spring goes on, if Cruz keeps the offensive numbers close, Anderson won’t stand a chance.
We know Skip Schumaker will have a bench role on the team given his ability to play outfield and his contract. The assumption is that the loser of the Greene/Descalso second base battle will have a role as the utility infielder, but there is definitely the chance that another contender emerges to take the role. So far, neither Carpenter, Cora, Velez, nor Kozma have shown anything to give them an inside track on the job. Matt Adams has emerged, however, as someone who needs major league playing time. He is more than likely still going to report to AAA, though, as with Lance Berkman entrenched at first, there won’t be much playing time available for him.
This battle is similar to the third base battle in that it is up to Chamber to win the job. If the two players end up with similar numbers, Komatsu will more than likely win the job since he would have to be returned if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster. So far, Chambers has been slightly better, but there is a lot of spring training left for Komatsu to narrow the gap.
There’s still the fifth starter and bottom end of the bullpen to hash out, but there just aren’t enough numbers yet to really gauge anyone. So far, the Cardinals overall record hasn’t been impressive, but I’ve really liked what I’ve seen so far. Mike Matheny has done a fantastic job mixing old and new players to see what we have for the future. There has also been a good clubhouse atmosphere emerging, mostly thanks to Lance Berkman showing that he can take Albert Pujols place as a team leader. Will the Cardinals win #12 in 2012? We shall see.