St. Louis Cardinals: Preseason Roster Predictions Part 2

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Feb 18, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (left) listens to pitching coach Derek Lilliquist (right) as catcher Brayan Pena (center) listens in at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 18, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (left) listens to pitching coach Derek Lilliquist (right) as catcher Brayan Pena (center) listens in at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the biggest questions in camp is the starting season catcher position. Will a certain eight time gold glover be ready to go?

Yadier Molina is coming off a pair of surgeries on his left thumb because the first one “didn’t take”. Beware of rushing him back. The veteran leader has seen both thumbs be partially torn or hurt the past two seasons so there is no reason to rush him back into action. Getting spring reps and loosening up is fine but an extra two weeks of rehab and stabilizing wouldn’t hurt. I echo the sentiments of my colleague Steven McNeil when I say that Molina on the DL is a real possibility to start the season.

That’s okay, my friends. Why? Brayan Pena has it covered. He’s a defensive minded catcher who will quickly download the pitching staff Molina this spring and has a bat that can find a healthier on base percentage than Yadier can manage these past couple seasons. One of the big upgrades from the offseason was dropping the respected yet weak hitting and fielding Tony Cruz and adding the likable yet worthy Pena. He can hold the fort to begin the season if Molina needs the extra rest. Save Yadier’s arm, knees and durability for the test that awaits in September.

The backup to Pena wouldn’t be Carson Kelly or Mike Ohlman. Kelly needs the continued tutelage and playing time that Springfield provides and Ohlman isn’t a finished product just yet. He hit well in Springfield but unlike Diaz, didn’t perform so well in the Arizona Fall League(cap tip to McNeil). He is young and also needs to play everyday, which will more than likely take place in Memphis.

The backup spot will more than likely be left to Eric Fryer, a journeyman catcher who will serve as the band aid that allows Molina time to heal and younger players time to grow. He doesn’t hit much or do anything particularly well, but over minimal(140 at bats), he has a moderate OBP in his five seasons of MLB service with Pittsburgh and Minnesota. He won’t blow anyone away but he will keep a spot warm if needed.

Starter-Yadier Molina(if ready)

Backup-Brayan Pena, Eric Fryer

Next: Bullpen: Lyons or not?

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