What to expect from spring training
Last spring training the Cardinals were given their worst news of the entire season, Adam Wainwright was going to be out for the entire year while requiring Tommy John surgery. This year hopefully the Cardinals will not have to face a similar tragedy but anything is possible in baseball. However, I think the Cardinals have a lot to look forward to, in the new era of Cardinal baseball with Mike Matheny and John Mozeliak leading it all. Here are some certain things that I think that people should expect and look forward to in the upcoming spring training:
The return of Adam Wainwright:
Spring training will give Cardinals fans their first glimpse of their ace pitcher in more than a year. Wainwright who is said to be nearly fully recovered from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last February, will be back in action and who knows he could be better than ever before as some cases of Tommy John have pointed out. Now four of the five members of the Cardinals rotation have underwent the surgery, all but Kyle Lohse and all have rebounded well, except for of course, Jake Westrbook but that is a whole other issue. I am looking forward to seeing Waino back in action and I am really excited to see what he can bring back to the Cardinals fresh off of their eleventh World Championship.
The battle for second base:
The known contenders for the starting second base job are Daniel Descalso and John Mozeliak’s pet, Tyler Greene. As well as veteran outfielder Skip Schumaker who has played the past few seasons at second, but don’t expect him to win the position over the more youthful, energetic bats. Daniel Descalso is a clutch hitting, young hitter who really won over fans with his timely hits last season, and with his versatile glove, he was a nominee for the third baseman’s golden glove award. Tyler Greene who was a member of TLR’s doghouse the past few seasons, has had great success in the minor leagues. He struggled in very few at bats last year but he did lead the team in stolen bases in 2011. John Mozeliak really loves Greene and wants to give him every opportunity to get big league playing time, so I think that he will win it. There is also an outside chance that prospect Kolten Wong could impress enough to make the job, but I just don’t see it happening due to him only having one year of minor league experience, but Wong is ranked as one of the best second baseman prospects and he should be able to hit his way to the big leagues whether it is in 2012 or 2013.
Watching what Shelby Miller has to offer:
Shelby Miller has been quoted on saying several times this off-season that he is going to pitch so well in spring training that the Cardinals will have no way of leaving him off of the 25 man roster. I really hope he is right, I love this kid and I want to see him play, part of that is me being impatient but I really believe he could have a huge impact on the club. However, the team has five starters already and I highly doubt that Lohse and Westbrook will be traded and even if they were the Cardinals have been linked to guys like Roy Oswalt, as well as having in-house candidates like Marc Rzepczynski or Lance Lynn. But if Miller is willing to be a reliever the Cardinals could always trade Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs for a utility infielder to help strengthen the bench. But like I said it won’t happen and unless another starter get’s injured for a long period of time, we won’t see Miller until September and even then it won’t be much of an impact.
The battle for back-up catcher:
Not as exciting as the battle for second base, the Cardinals will have three guys competing for their back-up catcher role, Tony Cruz, Bryan Anderson, and recently signed Koyie Hill. Cruz is the front runner mainly because he has MLB experience and he is pretty versatile, he can play first, third, and maybe even the corner outfield if needed. Anderson is an exciting young talent who is more known for his bat than his glove, he made a brief appearance in 2010 before being sent back down with the return of Jason LaRue. Hill has virtually no shot, but he has the most MLB experience playing the last five seasons as the Chicago Cubs backup catcher.
The battle for the final outfield spot:
With Allen Craig expected to miss the first month or so of the season, the Cardinals have an open outfield spot and guy’s that are expected to fit this role are Adron Chambers and Erik Komatsu. Chambers is a personal favorite of mine, and Ray’s we love this kid and we wish him the best of luck to winning this spot, he has speed, talent, athleticism, and energy that the team could really use. Some of my favorite moments of the season last year involved Chambers including his big hit in a game against Philadelphia as well as him just cheering from the sidelines. Komatsu was recently acquired from the Cardinals in the Rule 5 draft but I really doubt that he will make the big league club, but like I said before who knows?
A look at the future:
As always one of the most exciting parts of spring training is watching young and exciting prospects playing along side actual veterans and big leaguers, taking a glimpse into the future. The Cardinals have many exciting prospects that will be making headlines for years to come, some to watch for (Other than Shelby Miller) are: Zack Cox, Oscar Taveras, Carlos Martinez, John Gast, Ryan Jackson, Kolten Wong, Matt Adams, and many more.
The line-up possibilities:
The new addition of Carlos Beltran makes the line-up very versatile and I think we will see it bounce around more so than we did in the TLR era in certain ways. TLR liked to have the bench players play as much as possible, and I don’t see that happening as much, but with the great versatility of this team I think you can look forward to endless combinations for the line-up and I expect Mike Matheny to have a lot of fun with it. For instance does Beltran hit second, fifth, or even third? Holliday and Berkman are more interchangeable at the third hole, instead of only seeing Pujols. It should be fun to see for sure, but here is how I envision the opening day line-up to be (Of course the line-up will change with the return of Allen Craig.) :
CF Jon Jay
3B David Freese
2B Tyler Greene
A preview of Mike Matheny’s managerial style:
It has been 17 years since the Cardinals have had a manager who was not Tony La Russa present at spring training. I have to say, that I am most excited about seeing how our new manager acts. I doubt we will really get to see all of the signs of a manager in spring training because the games are different, and they don’t really matter so we really won’t see as much strategy and response to pressure that we would in a regular season game, but we will get to see the atmosphere, leadership, and club house presence that Matheny will bring and I am really excited for it.
There will be many things to look forward to in the Cardinals upcoming Spring Training, but the most exciting of all is that baseball season will be starting. There is no better feeling in the world than watching, playing, writing, and reading about baseball and I am honored to be writing about it for this site, thank you for reading and comment below on what you are most excited about in the upcoming spring training.