The fifth starter “competition”

Entering this spring, the Cardinals made it out like there was a competition to be had in their starting rotation with Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia, Joe Kelly, and Carlos Martinez. Those six pitchers were battling it out for four spots. That was the narrative at Winter Warm-Up anyway. One that I dismissed at the time.

Adam Wainwright is locked in. Shelby Miller? How do you tell a top-3 Rookie of the Year finisher that he’s being demoted to the bullpen. Michael Wacha? The guy took two no-hitters into the ninth inning last year and outdueled the $30 million man twice in the same playoff series. Lance Lynn? He’s only the winningest starting pitcher in the NL since the beginning of the 2012 season. Jaime Garcia? Well, you’re paying him like a starter. He better be a starter.

The rotation was set. Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez were looking at the St. Louis bullpen or the Memphis rotation if everyone stayed healthy. [click to continue…]

To trade Pete Kozma

MLB Trade Rumors was reporting last night based on information from ESPN New York that the Cardinals have made shortstop Pete Kozma available on the trade market. With Jhonny Peralta set to take over for him at shortstop this year, Pete Kozma looks like he may not even make the major league club this spring and be relegated to Triple-A Memphis.

What might Kozma net in a trade? The answer is not much.

Consider that Brendan Ryan was coming off a very similar offensive campaign in 2010 when the Cardinals traded him to the Mariners for Maikel Cleto. Ryan’s OPS+ that season was 57, compared to Kozma’s 54 OPS+ this last season. Meanwhile, Ryan is easily the better defensive shortstop. [click to continue…]

Quoteable: Matheny to Taveras on his demotion

“You could easily ride on what you’ve done, but don’t buy into a lot of stuff that you’re hearing. There are other guys working everyday to get better. Make sure you’re doing the same.”

- Mike Matheny on what he told Oscar Taveras after he was optioned to minor league camp. (Link)

Cardinals make international splash, sign Diaz

The St. Louis Cardinals and Cuban free agent infielder Aledmys Diaz agreed to terms today on a four year deal. While the financial terms weren’t readily available at signing, there have been numerous reports that it is worth less than $20 million in value. (Edit: Derrick Goold reports on Monday that the total value is 4 years, $8 million.) That’s a far cry from the five year, $25 million deal that Diaz’s agent had been publicly aiming for.

Diaz, 23, defected from Cuba last year but was suspended by Major League Baseball for an age discrepancy on his paperwork. He made himself older so that he wouldn’t qualify under the new international signing caps for younger players. That pushed him back to this year’s international signing period. After drawing interest from several teams, the two that seemed the most interested in him were the Cardinals and the New York Yankees. Both teams had Diaz come do private workouts for them in Florida this spring, but after theirs, the Yankees announced they weren’t planning to offer him a contract. That potentially opened put the door for the Cardinals to grab a good deal.

Diaz hit .315 with 12 home runs in a little over 200 at bats in his last professional season in Cuba. But just how does that translate into US baseball? Viva El Birdos tried to answer this when they talked with Joe Kehoskie earlier in spring training. Kehoskie has been an agent and a baseball consultant and he likens the Cuban leagues to equivalent to a high A ball team. [click to continue…]

The 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates

2013 Results: 94-68, 2nd in NL Central (3 games behind)
Key Arrivals: SP Edinson Volquez
Key Departures: SP A.J. Burnett, 1B Justin Morneau, OF Marlon Byrd, 1B Garret Jones, C John Buck, SP Jeff Karstens

The Pirates will be once again depending on the emergence of its young talent to continue its run to the top of the NL Central. They finally broke through, getting into the playoffs as a Wild Card, and then beating Cincinnati in the Wild Card Game. On the arms of their super rookie Gerrit Cole, the Pirates took the Cardinals to five games before Adam Wainwright did them in with the series on the line.

Their pitching staff was their hallmark last season once again, this time reinforced from the minor leagues. Much like the Cardinals did, the Pirates had several pitchers make starts. Their performance is definitely a credit to Russell Martin, the Pirates’ catcher who is known for his ability to handle pitching staffs. But this year they will be lacking AJ Burnett, who has headed that rotation the last two years. They will be hoping that Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole create the Pirates’ new 1-2 punch and that Wandy Rodriguez will be able to stay off the DL. [click to continue…]