St. Louis Cardinals: Spring Training Reaction

Mar 31, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker (91) and second baseman Greg Garcia (35) high five against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 31, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker (91) and second baseman Greg Garcia (35) high five against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Cardinals are finished up with Spring Training and are already on their way to Pittsburgh. So, what can we take away from what we experienced?

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Spring Training is finally over, it was fast but not fast enough for me. We are now less than three days away from the start of the season and the roster is set and things are clear but yet they are still kind of cloudy. Seeing as how we were pretty far off on some of our predictions for the roster, let’s take a look at what we know going into the season.

First Base

We don’t really know how the first base situation is really going to work out and the outfield is now just as crowded as it was last season and the Cardinals have gotten rid of two outfielders.

We have Rick Hummel reporting that it “seems as if Matt Adams has won the job,” however the one player who saw the bulk of the time at the position was LF Matt Holliday, who before this year hadn’t seen much time away from LF in his career. 

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It does seem as if the organization would prefer to not have Brandon Moss play first base because of his defensive shortcomings at the position. Really at this point, we could see a three-way split of time at first between Holliday, Moss, and Adams.

This would give the organization the ability to use Tommy Pham against left-handed pitching, with Matt Holliday manning first base and Adams/Moss riding the bench. I got to say I am much more inclined to seeing Matt Holliday get as much time as possible at first base, as that seems like the best thing for the offense.


I got to say this is the least head-scratching thing of the entire roster right now. We know that it will most likely be pretty effective and could very well put up numbers similar or better than last year.

While I am a tad worried about the order of the rotation, this could be something that works itself out and I could be wrong, I absolutely want Michael Wacha to be successful and if he spots his fastball like he did yesterday it should not be a concern.

While you can’t make too much of Spring Training success from pitchers, Mike Leake has looked really good and may be better than advertised for the Cardinals this season. 

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It is hard to say that I am surprised that Jordan Walden is experiencing discomfort in his shoulder, but I did think these things were behind him and that he was coming into the season healthy. Hopefully, this is something that can be remedied with rest and he can be back in about a month.

I am quite surprised that the team made the decision to go with Matt Bowman to take Walden’s spot. Bowman didn’t exactly impress in the spot, and I got to figure if there wasn’t the need to keep him on the roster he wouldn’t be on the team — which is not necessarily a good thing as you would hope that they choose the best player for the role.

Bowman will add some flexibility to the pen, and as Joe Schwarz mentions will allow Tyler Lyons‘ role to be more fluid.


Here is where we had by far our most puzzling roster addition. Jeremy Hazelbaker had a great season with Memphis last season, and I mentioned him as a prospect to watch for early in the offseason. He played himself into a bench role for the Cardinals this spring, something that I am not sure anyone could have predicted.

Not to say that he doesn’t have some talent, as he does seem to have quite the ability to hit and to do so with power, it is just that his addition muddies what was a pretty clear outfield situation. Before Hazelbaker’s addition to the lineup we figured to have Moss/Holliday in left, Grichuk in center, and Piscotty in right — with Tommy Pham coming off the bench to play any of three roles.

Now Hazelbaker’s name is thrown into the mix, and I don’t quite understand where he fits. He will be an interesting player to keep our eye on, as he could be a candidate to be sent down in a couple weeks when they realize there’s no playing time for him. This would set him up as the next man up in Memphis if someone were to go down in the OF for St. Louis.

My hope is that he doesn’t take any playing time away from Tommy Pham, who is the more talented and more proven player.


The shortstop injury jinx claimed another today, as Ruben Tejada went down with an injury that the Cardinals are all too familiar with by now in the quad strain. So, this will provide Jedd Gyorko with the starting shortstop job with Greg Garcia backing him up and slightly weakening the Cardinals’ bench that is being thought of as the best bench this team has seen in years.

I am a little surprised that we won’t be seeing Aledmys Diaz in Pittsburgh this weekend, but it seems as if the organization really wants him getting consistent everyday at-bats with no competition.

The middle infield is now becoming a large concern defensively and this could hurt the pitching staff.


It is going to be an interesting season. I think that the offense is not as big of a concern as most are making it out to be. Today was a perfect example of what this offense is capable of, Palm Beach is a tough place to hit and with the team getting a break from that area today. This offense has a lot of good performers in it and I think we will be in for a fun ride this season.

Next: Bold Predictions for 2016

Bottom line, I think that this season is going to be very stressful at times but a lot of fun when you boil it down. I am glad we will finally have real baseball to talk about and we can finally turn on Cardinal baseball and make our days better by watching our favorite baseball team.