Meet the NRIs: RHP Seth Maness

Seth Maness was an 11th round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 MLB draft. A right handed pitcher out of East Carolina. He was a middle infielder when he started his collegiate career, but was converted to pitcher after injury struck the Pirates’ starting rotation. He was Conference USA’s Pitcher of the Year in 2010.

Maness, 24, compiled an 14-4 record over 7 starts in Palm Beach and 20 more in Springfield. His combined ERA was 2.97. He was awarded the organization’s Pitcher of the Year Award after the season. I’m not sure if you could really call it a breakout season for the young right hander considering he posted a 1.53 ERA over 53 innings between Batavia, Quad Cities, and Palm Beach in 2011.

Maness is known for his control. In fact over his 223 innings in his minor league career he has only walked 15 batters. That control is his best asset. His other tools make him a fringe-type player on most prospect lists, but keeping guys off base is half the battle. If he keeps learning he could surprising quite a few people and end up being a Kyle Lohse type in my opinion.

If Twitter is your thing, you can find him @Maness_43.

Lynn’s comments ignite fans

Many St. Louis Cardinals fans and bloggers today have jumped all over Lance Lynn thanks to a quote tweeted by Cardinals.com beat writer Jenifer Langosch. “I was an 18 game winner last year with an All Star appearance. I have to do a lot of things to lose my spot, in my opinion.” This isn’t the “Cardinal Way.”

In fact, former Cardinals.com beat writer Matthew Leach commented that it wouldn’t have flown under the previous administration. It’s the sort of comment that Tony La Russa wouldn’t have liked. You had to come to Spring Training prepared to work. To earn your spot every spring.

Those are the comments echoed by the veteran players like Yadier Molina who says he has to earn his spot every year. But if you really asked him one-on-one, off the record, I would bet money that he thinks he has a 100% chance of starting on Opening Day as long as he’s healthy. Even if Molina went hitless in March, he’d still be starting on Opening Day. [click to continue…]

Meet the NRIs: C J.R. Towles

Justin Robert Towles, or better known as J.R. Towles, is probably best known to Cardinals’ fans as the backup catcher for the Houston Astros. Despite being drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2002 and 2003, Towles returned to school until drafted by the Astros in the 20th round of the 2004 draft.

Towles’ highlight game came against the Cardinals on September 20, 2007, where he posted the Astros franchise record 8 RBI after being in the majors for all of about two weeks. That game included him hitting his first career home run off of Aaron Miles in an 18-1 blowout. From there, however, his career has struggled to take off.

He was expected to be the Astros’ primary backstop in 2008, but found himself headed to Triple-A by June after hitting .145 through the first two months of the season. He bounced back and forth for the rest of the season and then did so the next few years. After being cut loose by Houston after the 2011 season, he played last year for the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester. He hit .214/.280/.315 in 52 games.

Towles isn’t expected to do much beyond minor league depth. He and Rob Johnson are likely to battle each other for the starting job in Memphis to fill a hole in the system. Both should be an advantage for the young pitching the Cardinals’ have.

Freese avoids arbitration

David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals avoided arbitration, settling on a 1 year deal worth $3.15 million. That means the team continues it’s streak of not having a player case reach arbitration since Darren Oliver in 1999. It also puts the team’s projected Opening Day Salary Obligations at $113.9 million, up from $111.8 million last year.

Freese, the hometown hero of the 2011 World Series, had filed for arbitration at $3.75 million with the Cardinals filing at $2.4 million. They were due to meet up in a hearing over the next couple weeks to determine which salary Freese would earn in 2013, his first arbitration year. It ends the speculation of the team maybe being comfortable in their position going into the arbitration hearing and letting it get there.

After the news of the agreement came out, Freese told the Post-Dispatch that he wanted to be a Cardinal for life. That would entail a long-term deal for a player who will be turning 33 shortly after earning his first chance of free agency after the 2015 season. With Matt Carpenter, who will be where Freese is now, and a glut of third baseman picked in this past year’s draft, Freese’s future with the Cardinals is as questionable as ever. [click to continue…]

Carpenter likely out for season

The Cardinals’ General Manager John Mozeliak announced this afternoon that he didn’t expect Chris Carpenter to pitch for the team in 2013. The issues surrounding his arm with stingers and tingling have returned. It may be the answer to the question I asked earlier this offseason of what do you do about Chris Carpenter.

While the “R” word wasn’t mentioned as many speculated it would be, it was pretty clear listening to Mozeliak and Mike Matheny that they believe that Carpenter has thrown his last major league pitch. I read some reports that Carpenter was close to calling it a career after the rib surgery last year, but was convinced to push and come back for a playoff run.

The team immediately loses a big part of their psyche. Wainwright can step up into the leadership position in the pitching staff and likely was there last year. Many may believe that losing Carpenter hurts the teams chances, I don’t think you’ll see a big difference on the field. I think at this point what you can get out of Shelby Miller or Trevor Rosenthal over 32 starts is the same as you’d be able to squeeze out of Carpenter. [click to continue…]