On Sunday afternoon the St. Louis Cardinals put the finishing touches on their 2013 campaign that saw them finish with a 97-65 record, good for best in the National League. For a team that spent most of the first half of the season in that position before floundering through the midsummer, it was a happy ending.
The team, however, will enter postseason play for the tenth time in the last fourteen seasons with about as many questions as answers. Here are three important questions that the team will need to find answers to if the franchise’s 12th World Series title is in the cards.
Who will be the postseason closer?
After the preseason injury to closer Jason Motte who led the league with 42 saves in 2012, the team began looking for a new one this spring. Last year’s setup man Mitchell Boggs was unable to settle into the role which opened up the competition. Then last year’s trade deadline acquisition and seventh inning man, Edward Mujica stepped into the role and made it his own, posting a 1.72 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP, and 35 saves in 37 chances from when he took over the position until the end of August. He even got an All Star nod of his own for his work.
But some late season struggles that included being shut down for a week in September for elbow fatigue has opened the door to questions about his health and who will close for the team. Mujica struggled to the finish in 2013 with an 11.05 ERA in his 7 1/3 innings of work and the league hitting over .500 against him. Continue reading
Yesterday was the UCB trip to the ballpark where select members received the opportunity to have a brief Q&A session with John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt III. My question for the team’s General Manager would have been when do the bullpen issues reach critical mass and require the team to start making moves? The answer? Today. Marc Rzepczynski will be headed to Memphis while Seth Maness should catch up with the big league club today. It was a surprise selection considering the struggles of the team’s setup guy and expected closer Mitchell Boggs.
Rzepczynski has allowed 16 baserunners in his 8 innings of work for a 7.88 ERA. He isn’t even doing his job as a lefty specialist, left handed hitters are teeing off of him with a .385 batting average.
Maness, 24, was an 11th round pick of the Cardinals in the 2011 draft. He has gained a reputation for being a control pitcher, walking just 18 batters in 248 minor league innings. Last season in Springfield he went 11-3 with a 2.97 ERA. This season in Memphis he has a 4.32 ERA to begin the season. Continue reading
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.
After having 1 selection on Day 1 in which we took Kolten Wong out of Hawaii the Cards had a full day of picks. Wong isn’t projected to be a tough sign nor will it take much, if any, overslot to sign him. With that said I anticipated that we would take a few gambles for upside in Day 2. The day started off well with a nice selection of Charlie Tilson but very few exciting picks the rest of the day. The biggest disappointment was the amount of upside talent that we passed on throughout the 2nd Day. They went athletic with their 3rd and 4th Rd picks and made their first pitching selection in the 5th. Local product Lance Jeffries was nabbed in the 10th Rd and is quite intriguing as is 2 catching prospects in Adam Ehrlich (6) and Aramis Garcia (20). On a side note we did get some interesting names such as Martini, dual and plural last name Peoples-Walls, a kid named Dutch and a Sherriff. Here is a list of picks for the day with some comments on key players. Overall the Cards draft has not been spectacular but they are showing they want to improve on the position player side early in the draft and then after the 15th Rd they went heavy on pitching. After 30 picks I am not that thrilled as I don’t know if anyone but Wong would project to break out Top 10 prospects for 2012. Tilson has a chance but I would think he is in the teens until he can prove some things with a wood bat in pro ball. Continue reading