Well, here we are, with spring training well into its twilight (sidenote, I still shudder every time I write the word twilight), so with a week to go I thought I’d take a look at the status of the Birds.
Most of the starters are locked in, but there are a few key position battles and injury updates that are still unsettled.
Obviously, Yadier Molina’s the starter for the foreseeable future after signing a five-year extension, but there’s a pretty solid battle going on for the backup spot on the roster. It was announced earlier today that veteran catcher Koyie Hill was granted his unconditional release from the team, narrowing the race down to Bryan Anderson and Tony Cruz.
Anderson’s generally been considered the better hitting prospect, and in limited action this spring, he’s backed that thought up by hitting .474 (9 for 19) with a pair of RBI. Of those nine hits, four have been doubles, so he’s demonstrated a bit of pop, and he’s also drawn more walks than he’s struck out. Still, his defense and play-calling, while improving, is still considered a bit behind Tony Cruz, who is also having a solid spring training at the plate, hitting .348 (8 for 23). Cruz filled in admirably last year as the backup when Gerald Laird broke a bone in his hand, and he’s considered to have the inside track for the spot.
The hope this spring was that Tyler Greene would put a stranglehold on the starting job and that Daniel Descalso would be a supersub filling in at second, third, and short. That hasn’t exactly gone as planned. Greene isn’t having a terrible spring at the plate, hitting .273/.360/.455, which is actually a pretty good slashline, especially for a middle infielder. Rather, the problem has been his erratic performance in the field. Greene’s highly athletic, and his range is considered to be a plus, but he’s committed four errors in the field. The problem is, he’s been inconsistent, but he’s also made some above average plays, and Descalso hasn’t exactly been sure-handed either, committing three errors in fewer opportunities. With Skip Schumaker all but a certainty to begin the season on the disabled list (torn oblique) coupled with the release of veteran Alex Cora, it’s likely Greene will begin the season as the starter at second.
Allen Craig is advancing very quickly in his rehab and has been taking batting practice and playing in minor league games, so there’s a chance he could be ready for opening day, although it’s acknowledged it’d most likely be as a pinch hitter. Still, Craig provides some much-needed pop off the bench, and when he’s back in game shape, he’ll provide yet another solid presence in the lineup. Meanwhile, Matt Holliday is tearing it up; after hitting his third home run today, he’s now hitting .469 with nine RBI in 13 games.
The battle for the final outfield spot is shaping up to be an interesting one. Erik Komatsu, the Rule 5 pick from Washington, is hitting decently (.293/.348/.439 before today’s game) and adds the element of speed (five stolen bases) and defense. Adron Chambers, who spent part of last season on the roster, is doing a bit worse (.259/.333/.370), but unlike Komatsu, he has played above the AA level. As a Rule 5 pick, the Cardinals cannot simply send Komatsu down if he doesn’t make the roster; he has to spend the entire season on the major league roster (not counting time on the disabled list). If he doesn’t, he must clear waivers and then be offered back to the Nationals; given the success he’s had, I’m guessing the Nationals would take him back. Indeed, there have been rumblings that the Nationals would be interested in trading back for him.
News of Chris Carpenter’s setback is a pretty hefty blow to the Cardinals. At this point, surgery isn’t being considered an option for his nerve condition, but he’ll also begin the season on the disabled list and could miss an extended period of time. Because of this, Lance Lynn is being groomed to be the fifth starter, and he has responded well, surrendering just 5 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings (2.87 ERA). Hitters are hitting just .196 against him, and his WHIP is well below 1. Lynn worked his way through the minors as a starter, so he’s accustomed to starting, although obviously we’d all prefer it if Carpenter made a quick return and Lynn returned to the bullpen as a setup man.
Should Carp be out for a while, though, it looks as though the rest of the rotation may be in good enough shape to help carry the slack. In addition to Lynn’s strong spring, Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook both have yet to surrender an earned run. Opening day starter Kyle Lohse (3.66 ERA) and Jaime Garcia (3.38) have both have solid spring trainings as well. It’s also possible that the Cardinals could soon place a call to Roy Oswalt, who has yet to find employment.
I was perusing the internet the other day, as I tend to do a lot, and I stumbled across this article on funny names. Heh. Turd Collar.
Anyways, it got me thinking about the remarkable list of past major leaguers with awesome names. Players who were born with unfortunately awesome surnames that, combined with either their first name or their nickname, just made for hilarity.
Everyone’s heard of Rusty Kuntz and Dick Pole. But what about Heinie Meine, the native St. Louisan who pitched for the Browns and Pirates? Who could forget “Pebbly” Jack Glasscock? A lot of people, unfortunately. Back before the 20th century, Cannonball Titcomb was pitching for New York. Chicken Wolf appeared in three games for St. Louis in their first year in the National League.
It’s a shame he was born so early. Had he been born a half a century later, he could have had his chance to play alongside the man I nominate as having the best/most unfortunate name ever.
Sidenote, they’re not bad names on paper, but try saying the names Mike Sweeney and Bob Boone quickly.