The St. Louis Cardinals are days away from beginning the Regular Season in Milwaukee. After they unofficially announced their 25-man roster, what stands out?
The St. Louis Cardinals are still technically in Spring Training but are done with all their games in Jupiter. We here at Redbird Rants have chronicled the biggest roster battles as Spring has gone on and while it flew by, we are now officially at decision time for who is going to be traveling to Milwaukee to start the year.
What I intend to do in this article is just to simply stroll around the diamond and take a look at what the Cardinals management has decided to fill in around each starting player.
When looking at the starting 9, it could’ve easily been called a “boring” Spring because there weren’t any position battles that were going to affect who was starting when the first pitch was thrown in Milwaukee.
The only spot there probably should’ve been a battle was in right field as fans don’t have near the confidence about Dexter Fowler that management seems to have. Had it been a true position battle, there’s no doubt that that the powerful Tyler O’Neill would’ve won the job after he led the team by mashing five homers in Spring Training.
That being said, let’s begin this look around and see what the Cardinals will likely take North.
Beginning with our position players, the starters are exactly what you would expect. The infield of Paul Goldschmidt, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, and Paul DeJong should be a much better defensive group than what the team fielded last year, even more so if they all stay healthy. To the outfield, Marcell Ozuna, Harrison Bader, and Dexter Fowler could be the group of three players that make or break the season with their performances. I don’t think this could be overstated.
On to the bench, Matt Wieters is going to be a huge upgrade at backup catcher. Tyler O’Neill and Jose Martinez should impress when they get playing time and should also provide a new kind of dangerous pinch hitter the Cardinals have lacked for a while. I was surprised to hear both Yairo Munoz and Drew Robinson made the team but with Jedd Gyorko starting on the IL, it is the best duo you can take.
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As we have written here, the amazing performance by Dakota Hudson this Spring has won him the 5th starter position and he should be super fun to watch this year. The other four starters are gonna be important too.
More surprises come in the bullpen as John Brebbia (rightly) beat out Tyler Webb for the last spot, but Brett Cecil’s ‘injury’ may have saved Mike Mayer’s career with the team. In my eyes, they are both kind of a wash that I wouldn’t trust in any situation until they showed me a little more.
While those guys are question marks, I am so so excited to see what the back three-headed monster of Jordan Hicks, Alex Reyes, and Andrew Miller looks like at the back of the game. We should see some ugly swings.
If you would’ve asked me what the roster would’ve looked like at the beginning of Spring, I would’ve replaced Robinson with Gyorko and Mayers with Cecil but due to injury, having those substitutes in place makes sense. I think they are taking the best 25 players North.
There are some arguments about whether Austin Gomber or Daniel Ponce de Leon should be on this roster, but simply put, they have options so they were destined for Memphis barring a huge performance. There were also grumblings on twitter that Tommy Edman should make the team over Robinson or Munoz and while he had a great Spring, it’s much too early for Edman.