News, Notes and Historical Information on the St. Louis Cardinals
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The Cardinals jumped all over the defending National League Champion Colorado Rockies on opening day only to have the game postponed due to rain. For what it’s worth, the Cards scored 4 in the first and Albert Pujols added a solo home run in the 2nd, while starter Adam Wainwright gave up only one run through the top of the third. Unfortunately, none of it counts and they will have to give it another try tomorrow.
Prospects to Watch in 2008:
CF Colby Rasmus- the Cardinals’ top prospect impressed with his power, speed, and plate discipline at 20 years old in AA ball. As I have mentioned a few times already, Rasmus more than held his own with the big leaguers during Spring Training but did not do enough to win a starting job, and the Cards’ wouldn’t keep him up as a backup. He will start the season in the minors, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him manning centerfield before the season is over.
SP Jaime Garcia- Garcia, considered the Cards’ top pitching prospect in 2007, struggled a little bit at age 20 in AA. His ERA was 3.75, but he did have 97 K’s in just over 103 innings pitched before hurting his elbow. His chances of making the bigs this year are slim, but if Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder do not come back as soon as hoped and the group of misfit toys that is the rest of the Cardinals’ pitching staff pitches like, well, themselves, Dave Duncan may go looking for help. Obviously he loves a good reclamation project, but if they look within the system this southpaw will be the first name to come up.
RP Chris Perez- this college closer was drafted in 2006 and moved through the Cardinals’ entire farm system last year. His walk totals were a little high last year, but opponents hit only .130 against him. With Dave Duncan pulling relief pitchers into the depleted starting rotation, Perez is getting a long look this spring. With Brad Thompson looking to win the fifth spot in the rotation (and not taking a spot in the bullpen), it looks like Perez may make the big club. A good showing this year could even win him the closer’s job in 2009.
C Bryan Anderson- the left-handed hitting catcher has produced at every level in the Cardinals’ system. At age 20, he held his own at AA Springfield, batting .298 and being named to Team USA for the Futures Game. He doesn’t quite have Brian McCann’s power (yet), but could become a similar-type player in the near future. With Yadier Molina holding down the fort in St. Louis, Anderson will probably spend the year in AAA. Catching is at a premium throughout baseball and Anderson could be used in a trade. Then again, another really impressive season on his part could leave Cardinals management with a tough decision to make regarding Molina and who the team’s catcher of the future will be.
As Spring Training 2008 comes to a close, here are a few interesting tidbits from Camp Cardinals:
Mark Mulder faced actual hitters for the first time Saturday, throwing about 30 pitches to minor leaguers in a simulation situation. A small step, but a positive one, nonetheless.
Correction from an earlier post: it looks like Anthony Reyes will not make the club coming out of Spring Training and may not be part of the organization for much longer. Todd Wellemeyer will take his place in the rotation and will probably start game #2 for the Cards.
Aaron Miles got a look at third base today against the Mets. Scott Spiezio is no longer with the club and Troy Glaus’ injury history leaves the Cards in need of someone who can step in at the hot corner. With the 25 man roster all but set, and any additional moves unlikely at this point, they will have to look within and it appears they are trying to find ways to get Miles into the lineup more often
The Cards locked up pitcher Adam Wainwright today, signing him to a four year extension with club options for 2012 and 2013. While everyone will probably remember Wainwright for the nasty curveball which struck out Carlos Beltran for the final out in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, he actually did a solid job in his first year as a starter and is one of the pieces the Cardinals are looking to build around for the future, so this is a good move. He looks to be their opening day starter and ace this year and the Cards are probably getting him at a reasonable price for a young pitcher while still having those club option years to protect them against injury.
A look at the possible Opening Day lineup for the St. Louis Cardinals:
CF- Skip Schumaker (L/R)
LF- Chris Duncan (L/R)
1B- Albert Pujols (R/R)
3B- Troy Glaus (R/R)
RF- Rick Ankiel (L/L)
C- Yadier Molina (R/R)
2B- Adam Kennedy (L/R)
SS- Cesar Izturis (S/R)
SP- Adam Wainwright (R/R)
SP- Braden Looper (R/R)
SP- Kyle Lohse (R/R)
SP- Brad Thompson (R/R)
SP- Anthony Reyes (R/R)
CL- Jason Isringhausen (R/R) Keep and eye out for minor league prospect Colby Rasmus. While he has not impressed enough during spring training to win the centerfield job for Opening Day, he probably will not be toiling down on the farm for long this year. That said, Skip Shumaker has really thrived in the leadoff spot this spring; whether or not he can keep it up all year is yet to be seen. Adam Kennedy was signed in 2007 to be the starting second baseman but was ineffective and injured all year. Coming in to 2008 healthy and with a new determination should be enough for Kennedy to hold off Aaron Miles, who was brought back as an insurance policy (much like he was last year). Wainwright and Looper are really the only sure things in the starting rotation (scary as that sounds), basically forcing the Cards to pay a little more than they would have liked for Kyle Lohse’s services. Joel Pinero is still on board, although nursing shoulder discomfort that may keep him out for the beginning portion of the season. Another recently signed pitcher, Matt Clement, looks like he will be back sometime in April, and Mark Mulder has been making progress in his attempt to return, but will be back in May at the earliest.
Pitcher: St. Louis signed Matt Clement to a one-year contract with a club option for 2009. With Chris Carpenter out until July at the earliest, and Mark Mulder trying to return from injury for a third straight season, starting pitching was one of the biggest concerns facing the Cardinals in 2008. Clement was a solid starter for Boston but has recently had (surprise, surprise) injury issues. If he can stay healthy and have the type of career renaissance that pitching coach Dave Duncan has become known for, this could be a steal for the Cardinals. If not, Cardinal fans had better hope the offense can put up A LOT of runs.
Outfield: The Cardinals avoided arbitration by signing Rick Ankiel to a one-year contract, picked Brian Barton in the Rule 5 draft, and signed former MVP Juan Gonzalez to a minor league contract. Gonzalez spent the winter working out at the baseball academy of former Cardinal Eduardo Perez, where current players Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina saw him and have raved about his condition and he has played very well thus far in spring training. Despite being away from the game for two years, Gonzalez has a very good chance to make the team because of the Cardinal’s need for depth in the outfield after the Edmonds trade and because of the Juan Encarnacion injury. I must admit that I have never been a big fan of Encarnacion, a former 5 tool prospect for the Tigers (my hometown team), because he failed to pan out in Detroit. While he never turned in to the right-handed version of Ken Griffey, Jr., he was a starting outfielder and solid contributor at every stop he made and helped the Marlins and Cardinals win World Series titles. For those of you who don’t know, Encarnacion was hit in the face with a foul ball last season while standing in the on deck circle. It was one of those freak incidents that ended his 2007 season, will keep him out for all of 2008 and may possibly end his career. According to reports he has only regained 20/400 vision in his left eye and while he will be missed in the Cardinals lineup, this is obviously one of those situations where regaining his sight and living a healthy life outside of baseball would be a win. Best of luck to Juan Encarnacion in his road to recovery (even from a bitter Tigers fan).
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