The World Baseball Classic will once again be played this year with a handful of Cardinals players getting an opportunity to represent their country. The intriguing name, according to reports from December, was supposed to be Jaime Garcia, who intended to pitch for Mexico. However, his name is not on the rosters released today, though that may still change.
The question becomes did Garcia back out on his own accord or at the team’s urging? Or is it his injury continuing to be an issue? The answers really shape what happens in Spring Training. Right now there is only a single pitcher spot on the roster, for a right handed reliever. If Garcia is still down, that opens up a rotation spot for a number of candidates.
Jason Motte turned down an invitation to pitch for the United States because he and his wife are expecting their first child later this month. Mitchell Boggs will be on the only member of the team on the US roster.
Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina will play for Puerto Rico. Fernando Salas will pitch for Mexico. And Richard Castillo, who started in Double-A Springfield last year for the Cardinals, will pitch for Spain.
Exactly one month ago today the St. Louis Cardinals traded Skip Schumaker to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for minor league shortstop Jake Lemmerman. It wasn’t a trade of necessity for the Cardinals, but rather a trade of accomodation. Under new manager Mike Matheny, Schumaker saw his playing time and role on the team diminish down the stretch.
Meanwhile, Schumaker was still hitting over .300 for the season entering September and was holding his own in the defensive metrics with Daniel Descalso. He was by far the Cardinals’ best option at second base last year, but he didn’t get regular playing time. He made 8 pinch hitting appearances in the playoffs and got a chance at second base in the playoffs for the 9th.
With the reduced role, Schumaker asked John Mozeliak to explore trades for him, somewhere where he could get a bigger role. New Dodgers’ hitting coach Mark McGwire lobbied for Schumaker and the Cardinals and the Dodgers made a trade work.
When I think about the greatest Cardinals’ pitcher of the last decade, my mind immediately goes to Chris Carpenter. I think most Cardinals’ fans’ minds would too. Over the last decade, when number 29 was on the mound you knew he was going to give it everything he had in the tank. If there was just one single ounce of greatness left in him, he was going to find it and use it. It was this same gritty determination that Carpenter used to give the Cardinals their eleventh World Series championship in 2011.
He spent nearly all of the 2012 season paying for it.
A rib later and here was Carpenter, using everything he had to make a miraculous September return. He wasn’t bad either. His record may reflect a 0-2 record with a 3.71 ERA in his three September starts, but he followed it up with a 2.63 ERA in three playoff starts. Unfortunately he was the victim of 6 unearned runs in the NLCS against the Giants that resulted in a 1-2 playoff record for him. Carpenter showed he was close, but he still wasn’t perfect.
I ran across this this morning as I was poking around for Cardinals’ related news. Cardinals’ minor league shortstop Vance Albitz has begun a program to collect gloves and baseballs and send them overseas to troops. He’d read in a news article the response of a soldier who said he’d really like a glove and a baseball to play with and Albitz decided to start this collection drive. According to his site he has sent 212 gloves to soldiers so far. His goal was to send 1,000 gloves before he has to pack up and head to Florida for Spring Training with the Cardinals.
You can donate gloves, baseballs, or even cash (which is just as good as money) to help pay for shipping expenses.
You can check out the website for more information, www.gloves4troops.com. Maybe even donate if you feel like it. I’m wishing I hadn’t trashed my backup glove over the summer. I thought it was a very cool idea. He has some updates and pictures on his Twitter page as well.
The Cardinals were quiet in the Major League portion of Thursday morning’s Rule 5 Draft, but took two players in the Triple-A portion. The St. Louis Cardinals added infielder Matt Cerda and left handed pitcher Jay Voss. The organization also lost Stephen Hill who was selected by the Oakland Athletics. Since Voss and Cerda were selected in the Triple-A portion of the draft, they only need to remain in Triple-A.
Cerda, 22, was a 4th round pick of the 2008 draft by the Chicago Cubs out of high school. He has spent time through the years playing second and third base as well as a little catcher. Last year he hit .266/.394/.355 with 3 HR and 15 RBI for the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate Tennessee Smokies.
I’d expect Cerda to end up playing mostly third base as the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong will spend his time at second base. The organization has had a hole at third base since Matt Carpenter made the opening day roster last year. Zack Cox has also been traded, creating another hole. He fills a need and I like his on base percentage alot. Plus he seems to be a pretty good second baseman defensively by the numbers.
The winter meetings were going rather quiet for the St. Louis Cardinals. Until today, that is. The Cardinals have agreed to terms on a $7.5 million, 3 year deal with 37-year-old veteran left hander Randy Choate pending a physical. The deal solidifies the bullpen from the left side as he will pair with 27-year-old Marc Rzepczynski.
Entering the offseason the Cardinals hadn’t spent good money on a left handed reliever in a few years, and it has shown. It was one of the primary issues that the organization needed to address in the offseason, if not the primary one (though I labelled it key #2 in a previous post). I had the feeling entering the offseason that John Mozeliak was as tired as I was at dumpster diving for a fringe left handed reliever and hoping you could work magic and squeeze a year or two of performance out of him. It was time to get a reliable arm.
Choate is not the player I was hoping the Cardinals would add, and after Sean Burnett went to the Angels on an $8 million, 2 year deal when I thought he’d get $12 million over 2 years, I’m even a little more frustrated. Burnett is one of those lefties that can pitch both ways. And yes, while we have our seventh, eighth, and ninth innings locked up, if an opposing manager tries to play matchups late in the game, Burnett is the kind of pitcher you can leave in there so you don’t burn through your bullpen in a single inning. However, if you are looking for a straight up Lefty-One-Out-GuY (or LOOGY), Choate was one of the best on the market this offseason.