St. Louis Cardinals: Redbirds on Team USA


The World Baseball Classic rosters were released last night with a few St. Louis Cardinals players making the teams, including Team USA. What can we expect out of the Redbirds on Team USA?

Last night we finally got the chance to view the complete roster for Team USA heading into the World Baseball Classic. With players from all over MLB, the St. Louis Cardinals were able to add two members of their own to the roster. Matt Carpenter and Brett Cecil join Team USA in search of the nation’s first title in this tournament.

Matt Carpenter’s inclusion to the team had already been disclosed, but Cecil’s inclusion was more of a surprise. The pair will partake in the tournament that begins on March 6 and ends on March 22. Team USA are heavy favorites to win the title this year and it feels great to have a couple of Redbirds possibly sharing that with St. Louis.

If you haven’t seen the roster for Team USA or your favorite team, click here for the complete list.

Now that the rosters are set, let’s take a look at what to expect from the two St. Louis Cardinals players.

Matt Carpenter

Carpenter’s inclusion on Team USA has been known for some time now. It was nice to see his name officially on the roster because it is a deserved spot. Carpenter has been one of the best hitters in baseball over the last four or five years, and easily the St. Louis Cardinals’ best hitter.

Since his rookie season in 2012, Carpenter has batted .285 with seventy-four HR and has driven in 335 runs. Team USA manager, Jim Leyland, knows what Carpenter can do offensively, but it’s also Carpenter’s versatility that adds a little bonus to the team.

St. Louis Cardinals fans have seen Carpenter play a multitude of positions over the last four years. Carpenter has gone from starting at second base, to third base, and now first base. He has some defensive shortcomings, but the ability to play multiple positions is valuable.

If you take a look at the positions I mentioned, there are some big names filling those spots. Paul Goldschmidt will be at first base; either Ian Kinsler or Daniel Murphy will be at second base; Nolan Arenado will be at third.

Related Story: Carp's 2017 Season

So what should we expect from Carpenter?

The easy answer is that Jim Leyland will keep everyone fresh and not over-use anyone until the semifinals and finals. I would expect Leyland to roll out a different lineup each day of pool play and even within those games get at bats for the guys.

This is why Carpenter’s versatility is so important to the team. Should he start at one position, he has the ability to shift to another when needed. Of the four left-handed hitting infielders, only Daniel Murphy seems to best Carpenter.

Based on his ability to hit and versatility on the field, I believe Carpenter will get a chance to play every day for Team USA. He will get a start or two and come off the bench, but I think he has proven himself enough as a hitter. A good question to ask Jim Leyland is where would Carpenter slot into the lineup? My guess is as good as yours.

Brett Cecil

Brett Cecil’s inclusion on Team USA came more as of a surprise to me when the rosters were announced. While there wasn’t any early sign that Cecil would be included on the roster, it is a welcoming sight to have another St. Louis Cardinals member on the team. Cecil joins Team USA as part of the designated pitcher pool.

If you are unfamiliar with the designated pitcher pool, check it out here.

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I’ll save you some time, and summarize it briefly. Think of it as a reserve bank for pitchers. At the end of each round, teams can replace a current pitcher with a pitcher from the bank. Once a pitcher is replaced, however, they are not eligible to play and must report back to their MLB team.

So while Cecil is on the final roster for Team USA, he is part of that reserve bank that can only be used after a round is complete. In other words, if Cecil gets a chance to pitch, it will likely be in the second round of the tournament or beyond.

Related Story: Cecil's Repertoire

What can we expect from Cecil?

Honestly, I’m not too sure what to expect. The St. Louis Cardinals signed him as a lefty specialist, so that would be the capacity that Jim Leyland uses him in. I think Cecil will more-than-likely get a chance to play, but what round?

If I were Leyland, I’m saving Cecil until the semifinal round in the chance that Team USA is paired with one of the better teams in the tournament, such as the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. He may not get as much exposure as Matt Carpenter, but if there is a need for a lefty reliever, count on Cecil being that guy.

Next: WBC Rosters Announced

The St. Louis Cardinals are well-represented on Team USA. Matt Carpenter and Brett Cecil will have meaningful roles to the team should USA advance far into the tournament. I expect Team USA to be in the final this year. It would be nice to see a couple of St. Louis Cardinals lift the trophy this time around. Go Cards!