Just days before Spring Training kicks off for the 2024 season, the St. Louis Cardinals still have questions to answer. The 2023 season was a complete disaster. It was far from what was anticipated. While baseball fans are skeptical, this is the most skepticism that a Cardinals fan has legitimately felt going into the season in some time.
Last season, several Cardinals started their seasons playing for their respective home country's World Baseball Classic team. The team will remain together through Spring Training. They will have the time together to learn from each other. To build upon the Cardinal Way.
The Cardinals start their season with their manager firmly on the hot season. Thankfully for Oli Marmol, he has a new bench coach in Daniel Descalso. He has the grit and determination of a man you want in the dugout with you. Yadier Molina will be in the dugout as an advisor. Molina's presence will be significant.
Dusty Blake felt short-staffed and overwhelmed in his first season as pitching coach. In 2024, Blake has an assistant coach in Dean Kiekhefer. The pair will have a huge season ahead. Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz appear to be the only returning starters set to join new additions Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson. The team has a plethora of young pitching talent joining several veteran bullpen arms set to compete for spots on the Opening Day roster.
This is indeed the most important Spring Training in some time.
While the team has big things to consider, several individual players go into this spring training with the knowledge their performance could determine success or failure for their team in a crucial season.
Masyn Winn could define the Cardinals' direction in 2024
He's one of the most exciting prospects the Cardinals have had. He did not have a great 2023 season, though. Winn must make strides to improve for the 2024 season. Starting spring training, he must show he is ready to be the Cardinal's everyday shortstop and impact the lineup.
In 2023, he hit .137/.230/.238 with an OPS of .467. He scored two doubles, two home runs, eight runs, and 12 RBIs. It's a far cry from how well he did at AAA Memphis, where he hit .288/.359/.474 with an OPS of .834 with 15 doubles, seven triples, 18 home runs, 99 runs scored, and 61 RBI.
With his new guy vibes shaken off, Winn should be able to focus on putting it all together at the plate and match his tremendous play at shortstop. He is one of the players whose performance could determine the team's success or failure. If he fails at shortstop, the team could be forced to move Tommy Edman from centerfield back to shortstop. Other assorted moves could be forced and throw everything off. This is possibly dramatic, but the Cardinals do have a lot invested in Winn performing well at shortstop this season.