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What Were They Thinking?!

What Were They Thinking?!: Listening and Commenting from Florida!

I’m in Florida and preparing for a trip to Jupiter and the Cardinals’ Spring Training complex in the morning – and yes, that’s me bragging – but I’m still present and accounted for here on Cards ‘N Stuff for the weekly “What Were They Thinking?!: Reactions to the UCB Radio Hour!” So, since it’s an hour later…you know…here in Florida 😉 …let’s get right to it. Here’s some brief thoughts about your favorite bloggers’ little internet radio show:

(NOTE: If you haven’t listened, yet, CLICK HERE for this week’s UCB Radio Hour.)

Regarding Carpenter:  Here’s the thing…Cardinal fans should be very worried about Carpenter. We’re talking about a guy who is near the end of his career, has struggled with odd nerve issues for years, and has already had two Tommy John Surgeries. He’s won two World Series Championships with the Cardinals and has arguably cemented his place in Cardinals’ history as a modern-day iconic figure. At this point, I wouldn’t even rule out potential retirement for Carpenter. Now, I don’t think that’s going to happen…but listening to the UCB Radio Hour last night, one might get the impression that Cardinals fans aren’t quite that worried about Carp at this point. I disagree. We should be VERY worried. If this issue – bulging disc or nerve issue or whatever – is not resolved, we could be seeing the beginning of the end. Listen…every season Carp has struggled to get on the field, it seemed like it was killing him – just killing him to not be on the field. This year, however…he just doesn’t seem that ravenous about it. In a way…he almost seems…content. I don’t think he will…but I could certainly see Carp’s issue becoming such a nagging issue that he could decide it’s best to simply call it a career.

Who Should Start Opening Day?:  The Radio Hour hosts seem to subtly back the thought that Lohse should start Opening Day. I, again, respectfully disagree. In my opinion, Jaime Garcia should start Opening Day in a situation where Carp can’t go and Waino is slated for the home opener. He has the stuff, he came out of the gate firing on all cylinders last year, and he has the contract. Let’s remember Lohse is likely gone after this season. Garcia is here for 4+ seasons. Very soon it will be Waino and Garcia headlining this staff. Maybe it’s time to start treating him like it.

About Roy Oswalt:  I actually would love to see this happen…but I don’t get the impression the organization believes it’s imminent until they find out exactly what they are looking at with Carp. Even then, it just seems like the organization would rather save their bullets until it knows what else they may have to deal with within the first three months of the season. The season hasn’t even started yet – let’s not jump the gun after the first Spring casualty.

Four Man Rotation?:  One of the hosts made a comment last night that many teams employ something similar to a four man rotation early in the season when they have a lot of off days. I believe I know what he’s saying…but let’s not pretend a four man rotation is ideal unless your pitchers can do it while still getting their same amount of rest. At the end of April, a four man rotation is not feasible. If we don’t have a solution in place by April 21st, we’re in for an interesting ride.

Can a Staff “Step Up”?:  You know, this was kicked around last season when Waino went down – this idea that a staff must “step up now that so-and-so is out” – and it’s something I believe is bogus. Major League pitchers – for the most part – are always out their going maximum effort, or always chasing their absolute best on the mound. To suggest that a staff can “step up” and potentially fill the void created by loosing an Ace – a former Cy Young winner and/or a Cy Young runner-up – is simply sound byte material. This staff will not – nay, cannot! – pitch any more effectively with Carp/Waino gone than they would have with either pitcher present. This staff is what it is, and without Carp, that’s just significantly less.

Making Up for Schumaker:  The hosts suggested it’s time for Matt Carpenter to show his stuff. I disagree. First of all, Carpenter is not a second baseman nor is he a center fielder…both positions Skip plays primarily for this team. Add to that an “options” situation with Carpenter – meaning the team might be hesitant to burn options at this point – and the fact that Carpenter needs to play every day to maintain his trade value and continue his development, and Carpenter just doesn’t fit. However, it could mean Alex Cora fits. If Komatsu makes the team, he provides another center field option but not a second baseman option. Cora fills that need. He can play literally every infield position aside from pitcher and catcher, and Matheny seems to be attempting to find a spot for the half coach/half player veteran. Plus, if Cora is on the squad, that gives us a much more stable SS back-up over Daniel Descalso. The only difficulty…what to do with Cora when Schumaker returns. He’s not a guy you would feel comfortable cutting. He isn’t a AAA’er. Instead, he’s the type guy that could catch on somewhere if not here…and the Cards don’t like to hold up guys like that. Of course, Komatsu is our Rule 5 draftee, so unless the Cardinals want to lose him, he’s virtually immune to roster cuts in the regular season.

Do We Need a Deep Bench Right Now?:  Oh, ho ho! One of the hosts suggested we may actually not need a very deep bench at this point – early in the season, that is – since the lineup is swinging the bat so well in Spring Training. I really think this is dangerous thinking. A deep bench contributes so often and in so many ways…and could have been the difference between the 2010 team and the 2011 team that came down to game 162. A depleted bench hurts regardless of when it happens – even if all we’re talking about is a few pinch hit situations and spelling guys like Freese, Berkman, and Beltran for the latter half of the season.

Tony La Russa’s Ego:  Just a quick point…it is an inaccurate characterization of Tony La Russa to say that he rarely admits to, acknowledges, and/or recognizes mistakes he makes/has made as a manager. To someone who was open to the possibility that TLR was more humble than they initially may have believed, Tony was VERY critical of himself. In fact, no one was tougher on Tony than Tony. Now, that doesn’t mean he didn’t always have an explanation for what he did and defended those moves/decisions. But he was the first and last person to criticize his mistakes.

Matheny and TLR:  A quick observation on my part…I’m very encouraged by Matheny’s willingness to depart from Tony’s method when necessary. He’s been very supportive of young players – Tony simply expected performance regardless of age. He’s been very aggressive with the running game – Tony became miserly with stolen base attempts and speed. Matheny has mixed vets and young guys to pass on knowledge – Tony typically rewarded players for being vets by grouping them with other vets/stars in hitting groups and side session pairings. And so on and so on…But I’m encouraged because Matheny is a TLR favorite – the two talk – and it’s good to see Matheny making moves without worrying too much about how it might be perceived in STL or by Tony.

Wrap-Up!

Well…that’s going to do it…it’s late, and I gotta’ get up for Jupiter tomorrow…so enjoy!

GO CARDS!!!

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