If you’ve spent your free time configuring and re-configuring the Cardinals’ 25-man roster in your head…it must be Spring Training. Welcome to the first official roster prediction of the season by Cards ‘N Stuff. Our roster predictions have an uncanny knack for being…well…wrong (there’s just no other way to say it, really). But let’s do it any way! Of course, please remember when you’re laughing at me in April that I had the guts/idiocy to write it in March.
NOTE: Any red text Updates were made this morning on the publication day of the post. I think that’s fair, right? I can change it within a reasonable amount of time (about a half hour) on the day I published it…? But…as of 8:05 am CST, no updates were made to the predictions.
And with that, let’s get into it…
1 – 5: The Starting 5. No surprise here…and really not much discussion needed. Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse, and Jake Westbrook. The only question mark here is whether Carp will make a start before Lance Lynn or the other way around. Of course, one could also wonder if Roy Oswalt will make the squad…but at this point, that seems unlikely.
UPDATE: Oh, no…It looks like Carp is heading back to St. Louis for evaluation regarding further pain. It’s now next to impossible he makes a start in the first week of the season…if even the first month. So…looks like Lance Lynn moves from The Bullpen and into The Starting 5. Carp’s spot will be covered in another update below.
6 – 13: The Bullpen. I believe Matheny’s preference is to carry 12 pitchers…but Carp’s questionable durability and Lynn’s potential spot-duty in the rotation could necessitate carrying an extra pitcher for at least the first month of the season (until Allen Craig can return and Carp gets a start or two under his belt with no mishaps). Of course, Kyle McClellan’s name has popped up in trade discussions with the Orioles again…but unless the Cards believe they need to sign Oswalt prior to Opening Day (which I don’t believe will happen), I think they will hold onto the right-hander. Mitchell Boggs makes the squad simply because we need another arm – and Matheny seems determined to give the guy a shot at developing some low-pressure consistency. Sanchez has to be there just because of his insane strikeout rate. So that leaves the 6 through 13 spots on the roster like so: Jason Motte, Mark Rzepcynski, J.C. Romero, Kyle McClellan, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, and Mitchell Boggs.
14 – 20: The No-Brainers. These are the guys, at various positions and for various reasons, that are essentially locks (or as close as possible) to being on the roster. Lance Berkman, David Freese, Rafael Furcal, Jon Jay, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, and Skip Schumaker. Yes, Skip is a “no-brainer” if for no other reason than his contract – but there are many reasons, so let’s not pretend he’s not, mmm-kay?
UPDATE: Since writing this post, Skip has been injured and is expected to start the season on the DL. Also, Allen Craig is progressing well and could actually make the Opening Day roster…assuming all things go as planned. Skip’s roster spot for OD will be covered in The Maybes below.
22 – 23: The More Thank Likelies. Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso fall into this category. It’s interesting because less than a year ago, one was seen as a starting second baseman candidate and the other as a back-up shortstop candidate. Less than a year later…that statement is still true…but the players have swapped roles. Tyler Greene is likely going to be given a chance to play everyday at second base, and the club has stated they do not want to confuse the sorta-young player once he makes that transition by asking him to swap back and forth on either side of 2B (Tyler has stated it’s like doing everything the same but in a mirror). That pretty much eliminates him as a back-up SS. Of course, Daniel Descalso served that role at times last year, and Matheny has praised him at the position so far this ST, but I have my doubts. But ultimately, it’s not my doubts that count. Descalso’s versatility and grit will likely earn him his spot. That doesn’t mean you can count out Alex Cora and/or Matt Carpenter, though. Either one could make a run at one of these spots…especially if Descalso shows any more weakness at SS and Greene doesn’t start hitting.
24 – 27: The Maybe’s. At this very moment (March 15th during the game against the Red Sox), I would put my money on Bryan Anderson winning the back-up catching duties and Erik Komatsu grabbing the fifth outfielder spot. Komatsu is a Rule 5 draftee, and he’s done nothing but play good baseball since he got here. He can play all three outfield positions – and seemingly play them well – he can hit, and he can run. The only trick here is that Komatsu has to be kept on the roster all season – the MLB roster. If he’s demoted to the minors, the Cardinals have to offer him back to his original team for cash. What happens when Allen Craig comes back? (Hint: Matheny likely prefers 12 pitchers). Anderson, in my opinion, has shown he’s likely the best candidate for the catching duties on Yadi’s off days. He can hit more consistently than any other candidate (Hill or Cruz), and Matheny swears by his defensive improvement. Plus, his bat gives the club one more Pinch Hitting possibility in big spots. All of that being said, both of these positions could still be wide open for various reasons.
UPDATE: So…about Allen Craig…it seems as if he might have a…oh…let’s give it 60/40 shot at making the roster for Opening Day. Before Skip went down, I would have said, “No Way!” But now…it seems the path of least resistance is to give Craig all the at-bats he can handle over the next couple weeks and then stick him on the roster. In fact, let’s go with that…Allen Craig will take that roster spot from Schumaker on OD. In addition, in regards to Carpenter and a potential DL stint…I now believe Alex Cora will start the season on the OD roster – effectively taking Carp’s spot via DL.
A Quick Note: I don’t believe this is the most likely choice, but if the club elects to disable Carpenter for the first part of the season, you could see Alex Cora or Matt Carpenter get a brief shot. (UPDATE: Now I do believe the club will DL Carp to open the season.) The problem is, if Cora is on the roster for Opening Day, it reduces his chances of catching on with another team when/if he’s cut/released/demoted later on in the season (to make room for Carp and/or Craig). With Carpenter, it’s possible he could make it in that role…but he would be better served to play everyday in AAA. At the MLB level for 2 weeks of the season, he would likely only see occasional pinch-hitting duty with maybe 1 start before being demoted. And besides…wouldn’t a demotion further erode his options (I’m guessing…I don’t understand that stuff)?
That’ll do it for today. Like I said, forgive me for my mistakes…it’s still early and players have a whole lot of camp to go. Someone could still make an impression.