The Cardinals desperate search for bullpen help has led them to top pitching prospect Carlos Martinez. He has been called up straight from AA and after not getting a single out in Thursday’s game struggling reliever Mitchell Boggs was optioned to AAA Memphis. Boggs becomes the second Cardinals pitcher this week to be sent to Memphis after Marc Rzepczynski was sent down earlier in the week.
Martinez, 21, has a 2.31 ERA in 3 games as a starter at AA Springfield. As I’m writing this the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Derrick Goold has confirmed that closer Jason Motte will undergo Tommy John surgery on Monday and is officially done for the year and likely a portion of 2014. This was predictable in a way after hearing this narrative over and over again. A pitcher is “testing” his elbow or they’re still “evaluating” their options. Too many times has this led to surgery for me to believe anything the Cardinals ever say about injured players.
That’s a different story for a different time.
Anyway, this makes Martinez’s call up much more applicable because he is likely here to stay unless they have plans to trade for a reliever which is still a possibility. The Cardinals did this same thing last year, it’s almost an exact replica. They were desperate for bullpen help so they went to AA and called up Trevor Rosenthal, who then was a starter. Now they’ve done the same thing with Martinez.
When a player gets called up I always like to find them on Twitter and see what they’re saying. I had no idea what I was stumbling upon. Martinez is on Twitter and it’s really him, you can follow him @Tsunamy27. His profile is absolutely littered with some, um, interesting things.
First his bio is quite humorous and involves him giving a subtle brag and at the same time spelling “Cardinals” wrong. Here is what his bio reads, ahem, “CARLOS MARTINEZ: prospect #3. of St.Louis Cardenals” Look, I get that he’s from the Domincan, but when you see the correct spelling of the word “Cardinals” every day, spelling it wrong is unacceptable, Carlos. Unacceptable. Then, if that wasn’t enough, he has an abundant amount of “selfies” or pictures taken by himself. Carlos Beltran has made his selfies quite famous. Let’s take a look at some of Martinez’s “best” selfies…
This one was from today at Miller Park. It’s a pretty big deal for him so we’ll let this one slide. Moving on.
As if taking a selfie wasn’t bad enough, but in a skin-tight Superman shirt? C’mon dude!
This is yet another subtle brag. Shirtless mirror pics are about as bad as it gets, really. Put some clothes on!
Finally, Exhibit D:
Well the clothes are there at least. Collared shirt tucked into dad jeans. Kudos.
For the record, I’m not trying to make fun of him, just a bit of teasing. Hopefully he can help the bullpen.
He’s been described as a phenom. High-ranking officials in the Cardinals’ organization often refer to this man as the best-hitting prospect they’ve had since a guy named Albert Pujols. The Cardinals’ top prospect Oscar Taveras is often argued to be the best raw-hitter not in Major League Baseball. Since he’s joined the Cardinal organization in 2010, he has obliterated the pitching at every level and now he’s considered a crucial piece of the future for the Cardinals.
I don’t claim to be a scout or anything and I haven’t seen Taveras hit in person, but I’ve seen a lot of him on TV and online and he can hit the ball. And when he does hit the ball, he hits it very, very hard. His swing is very explosive. It kind of resembles Prince Fielder except for, you know, Taveras is a bit…smaller. He hits every ball with authority. The ball comes off his bat and you think it’s a lazy fly ball to left and it turns into a 400 foot home run.
Last year at AA Springfield, Taveras had a slash line of .321/.380/.572. This year at AAA he’s doing good, but not great. He isn’t exactly tearing up the pitching, but it’s still early and he’s faring very well at a new level, hitting .281.
Many project him to be the starting right-fielder for the Cardinals in 2014. It seems pretty obvious with Carlos Beltran’s contract expiring and his age increasing. But this year there was a wrinkle thrown into that plan. Matt Adams is killing the ball right now. He is currently on the 15-day disabled list, but before yesterday he was hitting .542 in 8 games. If he continues to hit like this, the Cardinals will have a tough decision to make. And Taveras is here to stay.They could always trade Adams while his value is high, but you’d hate to do that and he turns out to be a star. There is a possible solution, however.
Jon Jay is overrated. There, I said it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Jon Jay is a good player. He’s played well since taking over in center in 2011. He is a good player, but he’s not great. His defense is superb, but he sometimes takes questionable routes to balls and his lack of speed often forces him to make frequent diving plays. Opponents don’t hesitate to take an extra base due to his arm strength, or lack there of. He hit very well in 2012, but is struggling thus far in 2013, hitting just .220. It’s still early and Jay has earned the right to try to turn it around.
I’m not saying they should trade Jay. I’m not even suggesting they bench him. What I’m saying is that if Craig and Adams keep hitting and Taveras continues to hit in AAA, I have a feeling Jon Jay could be the odd man out. A lineup featuring Craig, Adams, AND Taveras is pretty scary. Maybe Jay will turn it around, or maybe not. These things have a way of sorting themselves out.
The home opener for the Cardinals is more of a local holiday than just the first home game. The festivities begin at the crack of down and carry on into early on in the next morning. Cardinals nation awakes from its hibernation and makes the pilgrimage to Busch Stadium. The season doesn’t really begin for St. Louis until the first pitch is thrown later today.
Fans attending the game better get there early becuase the show starts well before the actual game. You have the player parade, the Clydesdales, and the hall of fame parade. Cardinals greats circle the stadium and then the greatest Cardinal of all-time rides out in his red sport coat, as enthusiastic as ever.
But not this year.
Stan Musial won’t be making his annual appearance. After the Cardinals’ greats are done there will be an odd sadness sweep over the stadium because “The Man” won’t be there. For Cardinals players and the opposition, the highlight of the home opener is seeing Musial. It will be hard to make up for what he brought to the day. You can’t replace the roar of the crowd when his name was announced. You can’t replace the rush of feelings that hit you as he rides out in his golf cart. You can’t replace the goosebumps that hit you like a freight train as everyone in the stadium goes insane.
The Cardinals will do a great job and probably have a touching tribute to Musial, but it’s just not the same.
He’ll never be forgotten. I feel so incredibly lucky that I got to see countless home openers featuring Musial. There will be a gaping hole in the ceremonies today. An overwhelming feeling of sadness will turn to smiles as the tribute shows “The Man” in his glory days, smiling and playing the harmonica. Applause will roar as highlights are showed of Musial cranking a home run with his low hands ready to strike the ball. The outsiders from Cincinatti will come to appreciate Stan (if they don’t already) when they learn that he won a couple MVP’s, but also a Presidential Medal of Freedom. They will understand his significance when they learn of him leaving baseball to serve his country.
It will be different no doubt, but it will still be a spectacle. 42,000 strong will still come to see the local nine play in front of the home crowd. No, Stan Musial won’t be there, but he’ll be there in spirit. Watching over the festivities. Smiling. Playing his beloved harmonica while watching over his beloved baseball town.
The Cardinals wrapped up an eventful Spring Training yesterday. Here’s a look at a couple of key points:
- Rafael Furcal has season-ending elbow surgery
- Ronny Cedeno is cut after signing a $1.15 million deal
- Mike Matheney has back surgery
- Yadier Molina leads Puerto Rico to World Baseball Classic Finals
- Carlos Beltran breaks toe
- Marc Rzepczynski misses time with freak eye incident
- Jason Motte goes on DL
- David Freese goes on DL
- Cards sign Allen Craig to 5 year deal
- Cards sign Wainwright to 5 year deal
- Jaime Garcia shows no signs of elbow trouble, throwing 29 innings
- Michael Wacha wows coaches by not allowing a run in 11 2/3 innings of work
- Shelby Miller wins 5th starter role
- Matt Carpenter shows improvement at second base
- Matt Adams earns bench spot with Shane Robinson
- Oscar Taveras shines, spending all camp with MLB team, sent to AAA at the end
- Randy Choate and Ty Wiggington struggle
- Joe Kelly earns final bullpen spot
- Pete Kozma named starting shortstop
As you can see, the Cardinals had a lot going on this spring, which only makes it that much more exciting for the games to count.
I decided to not go ahead with the Power Rankings. Anyway… here’s a lighthearted post before the heavy stuff starts tomorrow.
I was looking through the webs and surfing around on Twitter and I saw something. There was a lot of websites, tweets, forums, etc. talking about how much that certain person hated the Cardinals and us Cardinal fans. I really make it a point to be objective and unbiased on here, but I am a Cardinal fan. I always have been and always will be. Let’s look at some of the points made on these posts:
Best fans in baseball? A lot of people say otherwise. In my mind, we are the best fans in baseball. That simple. In my mind Cardinal fans are the most respectful, knowledgable, and loyal fans in baseball. Now that that’s out-of-the-way let me side with the Cardinals haters just for a minute. The self proclamation of being the best fans gets pretty old. I call 2 Birds 1 Bat “A blog for the best fans in baseball,” because I believe we are, but we don’t need to say it over and over again. We have earned the title. Someone didn’t just wake up one day and decide “Hey how about we say that St. Louis has the best fans?” No. It became our title after we proved that we are great fans.
Also, I don’t think that saying we our the best fans means that other fans are just terrible. There are some other great fans out there. The Giants and Orioles come to mind. Cardinal fans will boo their own players from time to time, but we’ll also applaud opposing players. That is why we get that title.
Tony LaRussa: I would have to assume that the number of people who hate the Cardinals went down by a lot when Tony retired. He was annoying at some points. But he was one hell of a manager and you have to admit that.
The Cardinals are lucky: Of course they are. Every team that wins a World Series have to have a little bit of luck. The thing is, they were “luckier” than 28 other teams in baseball. Getting production out of players like Jeff Suppan, Scott Spiezio, and David Eckstein isn’t all luck because it happens every year. Maybe it’s playing in front of the best fans that gets them to play well?
They never lose: The Cardinals don’t go through losing seasons. Plain and simple. Of course they have before, but not too much in my lifetime (16 years). But I’ll tell you what, if it ever so happens that the Cardinals have some losing seasons and maybe even go into rebuilding mode, I will be right here blogging about it and Busch Stadium will still have 3 million strong come through the turnstiles.
All-in-all I think the Cardinals and their fans our hated because they’re good. It’s a little bit of jealousy, that’s all. It’s understandable.
As the Cardinals break camp and head to Phoenix to start the 2013 season, they find themselves in a familiar place. Just like usual, they’re expected to contend for a World Series title. It can’t be any other way. After all, they are the St. Louis Cardinals. But they also face some familiarities that they’d rather not encounter.
Heading into the season, they won’t be healthy. They’ve lost David Freese, Jason Motte, and Chris Carpenter to injuries. All three of them will be starting the 2013 campaign on the disabled list.
Health. That is the number one key to the Cardinals having a successful year. Of course they have depth at most positions, but injuries still show cause for concern. As I noted before, they’ve already have three players heading to the DL and they haven’t even began playing real games yet.
A Younger Team
The Cardinals have a much younger roster compared to past years. They had an opening for the fifth spot in the starting rotation and they entrusted that role into highly touted prospect Shelby Miller.
Rafael Furcal is done for the season and youngster Pete Kozma will be the Opening Day shortstop.
But along with these rookies they also have some veteran leadership. Matt Holiday and Adam Wainwright should provide a strong presence in the locker room. With Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, and Skip Schumaker no longer on the team, other players will have to step up into leadership roles. Players that may not be considered veterans such as David Freese and Jon Jay will have to take on a larger role in the locker room.
I’ve heard the terms “rebuilding” and “transition” being thrown around to describe this upcoming season. This is true in a sense, but this is an elite team so choose your words wisely. The Cardinals are preparing themselves for the present and the future at the same time. For every Shelby Miller, there’s an Adam Wainwright. The team’s mix of young players and veterans provide great hope for the future.
Middle Infield Uncertainty.
Matt Carpenter has worked all winter and all spring to become a second basemen. He was making great progress and on his way to being the main guy at the position. He did all this work and now he’ll begin 2013 at third base because of David Freese’s injury.
But when Freese comes back, Carpenter will likely be the starting second basemen. This marks the second time in as many years that the team moves a non-second basemen to the position. Last year it was Skip Schumaker.
The future at second isn’t so bleak. Prospect Kolten Wong is waiting in the wings and ready to be the second basemen of the future. The future at shortstop is much more shady, however.
Pete Kozma will get the job there after a fantastic Spring, but is he the future at the position? Probably not. The club doesn’t have a prospect waiting to takeover like they do at second. Shortstop could be a position they look to upgrade at the Trade Deadline. All of this will depend on how Kozma handles the role. Time will tell.
The future looks bright and so does the present. It will be exciting to see current stars like Holliday and Wainwright play along side with future stars such as Shelby Miller or Oscar Taveras. The Reds are the favorite to win the Central, but it would be incredibly foolish to count the Cardinals out. After all, they were counted out in 2006 and 2011.
Buckle in and get ready to go; an exciting season is ahead of us and the Cardinals are ready.
Boy was today a long day of news. I planned on getting this out mid-day, but then Kyle Lohse signed with the Brewers and Shelby Miller was announced as the Cardinals’ fifth starter. The Lohse story will be up tomorrow on 2 Birds 1 Bat as well as afrsports.com
At the beginning of Spring Training there was some uncertainty as to what the roster will look like. Now, just a week away from Opening Day, most of that uncertainty is gone. Here is what the Cardinals’ roster should look like in 2013:
Starting Rotation (5)
1.) Adam Wainwright
2.) Jake Westbrook
3.) Lance Lynn
4.) Jaime Garcia
5.) Shelby Miller
1.) Jon Jay
2.) Carlos Beltran
3.) Matt Holliday
4.) Allen Craig
5.) Yadier Molina
6.) David Freese
7.) Matt Carpenter
8.) Pete Kozma
Tommorow’s preview article will be 13 bold predictions for 2013. (You see what I did there)
And then there was one.
First it was Lance Lynn who bowed out of the race for the fifth starter spot and now Joe Kelly will do the same. After Monday’s win over the Minnesota Twins the team made a decision on the fifth spot on the rotation. The club has went back and forth with their opinions on the matter and finally made that decision today.
Shelby Miller has won the job.
That was the news out of Fort Myers today, first reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Rick Hummel. It’s seemed like for the past week the Cardinals were leaning towards Shelby Miller and now that decision is final. Manager Mike Matheny informed Miller of the news.
“I’m speechless,” Miller said in regards to the choice*. “It’s unbelievable news.”
Matheny also had the job of informing Joe Kelly that he did not win the job. The news isn’t all bad for Joe though, he won’t be getting cut, or sent down, instead he’ll be in the Cardinals’ bullpen. A place that became very familiar with Kelly in the 2012 season.
“We told him he should be very proud of himself the way (he and Miller) competed,” said Matheny*. “It wasn’t anything that he did or did not do. It’s what makes our team better. Right now, I think our team is better with Shelby in that fifth starting spot.”
Miller struggled early in the season at AAA Memphis. This was, partly, the reason Joe Kelly got the call up when Jaime Garcia went down. Miller eventually turned it around and ended his AAA season at a respectful 11-10, with a 4.74 ERA. His resurgence as an elite pitcher at Memphis would later earn him a call up to St. Louis where he posted an impressive 1.32 ERA.
He was also given a chance to start a game late in the year and he performed magnificently. In that game against the Reds he gave up no runs and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
He will likely get his first start of 2013 in the Cardinals’ second series of the year against the defending World Champion Giants.
*Quotes from Rick Hummel’s article on stltoday.com You can read that article here:
Cardinals’ closer Jason Motte is expected to start the season on the disabled list after he experienced what the team is calling a “mild strain” in his pitching elbow. General Manager John Mozeliak, normally an optimist when it comes to injuries, said that he doesn’t expect Motte to be ready for Opening Day.
Normally the 8th inning man, right-hander Mitchell Boggs will assume the role as closer until Motte is ready to return.
If you take it for face value, this is a crushing blow to the Cardinals. It certainly isn’t a good thing that Motte will be out for a while. After all he did have 42 saves in 2012 with an ERA of 2.75, but what you have to remember is that that the Cardinals have enough talented, young pitchers to make another team. Seriously, their AAA bullpen and rotation may be better than a couple major league teams.
So, the moral of the story is that this is a tough thing to happen, but the Cardinals are 100% capable of dealing with it. The guy taking over for Motte, Mitchell Boggs, has just as good as numbers as Motte does. Boggs finished the 2012 campaign with an ERA of 2.21. A closer is important especially in tight, division games. Motte has had much more success against the NL Central than Boggs has. Both of their stats against the Central are good, but the decisive edge goes to Jason Motte.
Here is how other teams in the division have fared against Motte since he came into the league in 2008:
Reds: .194 batting average when facing Motte.
Brewers: .200 average against him.
Cubs: .190 avg.
Pirates: .191 avg.
And now Mitchell Boggs versus the Central:
Reds: .209 avg.
Brewers: .314 avg.
Cubs: .250 avg.
Pirates: .263 avg.
As you can see, division opponents have a much harder time facing Motte. Both Motte and Boggs’ have their biggest troubles facing the Brewers.
Jason Motte had a great season last year, but he had his problems too. His only pitch for the most part was a fastball. It didn’t hurt him too bad last year because it was one good fastball. But that fastball that hit triple digits also became predictable which led to Motte’s next problem; home runs. For as many saves as he got, he also gave up nine homeruns and had a home run per 9 innings ratio of 1.13, which is especially high for a closer.
Boggs’ primary fault is an obvious one. In 2012 he had zero saves. Zero. Although he did an excellent job as the set-up man, the ninth inning is an entirely different story. Tony LaRussa used to say it all the time; the 27th out is the hardest to get. Boggs should be able to handle the job and the Cardinals are extremely confident that he can as well. But if for some reason he can’t or he gets hurt, the Cardinals still won’t be panicking. Next in line would be hard-throwing prospect Trevor Rosenthal who has had a great spring.
After him would be top pitching prospect Shelby Miller, but if it got to him, Motte would probably be ready to return. Losing your shutdown close is never easy, but the Cardinals can handle it. And they will handle it. Situations like these show you why the phrase, “You can never have enough pitching”, is so spot on. And boy do the Cardinals have enough pitching.
Cardinals’ closer Jason Motte will likely be spending Opening Day on the 15 Day DL. The team is calling the injury a “mild strain” and as the Cardinals study how severe it is, Motte will be out for at least a week.
After pitching against the Mets for an inning Thursday, Motte experienced tightness in his right arm which led to him seeking help from the training staff.
Now that a spot in the bullpen has opened up, the battle between Salas, Miller and Kelly has lost its intensity. Salas will go to the bullpen with Miller and Kelly fighting for the last starting spot. After the Motte injury, the one who doesn’t get the starting job will undoubtedly become a long man in the pen. As for the immediate remedy at closer, Mike Matheny has said that Mitchell Boggs will see time there until Motte recovers.