I know it’s been awhile since I was able to add to the blog, it’s not for lack of desire, but more a lack of time. Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten a job, been working on finishing the projects at my internship, and my wife and I adopted a dog. Needless to say, there has been very little “routine” in our lives since the last blog post.
For the Cardinals, the last couple weeks have brought some changes. Lance Berkman hit the disabled list. Skip Schumaker and Allen Craig have returned. Erik Komatsu is now Designated for Assignment (DFA) and will likely get picked up on waivers or brought back by Washington. Chris Carpenter has yet to return to throwing after his neck injury in Spring Training.
With one month of the season in the books for the Cardinals, it’s time to hand out some early season grades for the team. Today will be a look at Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak and the offensive players on the roster. Tomorrow will look at the Cardinals’ coaching staff and the pitchers. Let’s dig in.
According to a Derrick Goold tweet yesterday, Skip Schumaker and Allen Craig could both start rehab assignments within the next week. Schumaker took some ABs in extended spring training in Jupiter and appears set to start rehabbing next week, according to Goold. Craig is headed to Florida on Sunday in the hopes of being ready for a rehab assignment late next week.
For Cardinals fans, this is good news. Craig is easily the most dangerous bat the Cardinals have off the bench this season and the sooner we can get him back, the better off the team will be. Especially with there being some question about Lance Berkman‘s calf injury. I’ve read that he described it similar as to previous issues he had, so it could be more trouble than we think it will be. Meanwhile Schumaker is the most reliable bat we have that can play second base, even if there is some question to his glove work.
With the potential that both players could be looking for a spot on the 25 man roster by the end of the month, it opens up some interesting questions and battles to stay on the 25 man roster.
The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have purchased the contract of Scott Linebrink, the final step required to make him a member of their 25-man roster for Opening Day. It was a move that was expected after the Cardinals’ had sent RHP Eduardo Sanchez to minor league camp where he is expected to start the season with the Memphis Redbirds. With the move, the Cardinals are now at 40 men on their 40 man roster, likely having alternative effects on other jobs.
Linebrink, 35, just misses out on being the oldest man on the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster this year. LHP J.C. Romero is two months older to the day and Lance Berkman takes the honor at six months older than Linebrink. Berkman turned 36 on February 10th, interestingly enough, the day that Linebrink was signed by the Cardinals’ to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
In 2011, Linebrink was 4-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 54 1/3 innings with the Atlanta Braves. He expected to get more phone calls from teams than he did get, but ultimately chose the Cardinals as his best option. The question in many teams’ minds, I think, was the 6.17 ERA he posted after returning from a DL stint last August. However, he did have a 2.95 ERA when he went on the DL in July.
If you’d told Cardinals’ fans in March of last year that Colby Rasmus would be traded and Jon Jay would be our everyday center fielder, you would have been laughed out of the room. Even more so after Rasmus posted a line of .301/.392/.476. Finally, our stud five-tool center fielder was going to be something. However, things went south from there, as Rasmus posted a line of .221/.306/.396 from May 1 until his trade on July 27. He got even worse in Toronto, but admitted that he basically gave up on the season and was waiting for a fresh start in 2012.
Enter Jon Jay. In the 2010 season, he was stated as the reason for being able to trade away Ryan Ludwick, contrary to many fans’ wishes. Over his time in St. Louis, Ludwick had been one of the most productive #4 hitters in the major leagues. However, young Jay was hitting .383 when the team chose to trade Ludwick. It put the spotlight on Jay and it wasn’t in a good way as he struggled down the stretch, hitting just .244, but still finishing the season above .300.
In the 2011 season, Jay was penciled in as the fourth outfielder for the Cardinals. His ability to play all three outfield positions was going to be useful for Tony LaRussa. After a slow start, by mid-May Jay was again hitting over .300 and finished May with a line of .349/.408/.514. He was starting to push Colby Rasmus for playing time and slowly fans were starting to support that idea. Rasmus, despite his hot start, was struggling and Jay was outplaying him offensively and defensively.
One of three 2011 Opening Day starters expected to take the field in the same position in this year’s Opening Day game, Matt Holliday already has his name penciled onto the lineup card. The team’s new #3 hitter after the departure of Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday will have some big shoes to fill in the eyes of the fans.
They are shoes he is already filling, in my opinion. Myself and others have complained about the lack of visible leadership on the team. Holliday seems to have done just that this offseason, becoming more involved with other players on the team and even inviting a few of the Cardinals’ recent draft picks out to St. Louis on his own dime to work out with them during the winter. He does it under the radar, but it is there.
Last year was a freak year for Holliday. From injuring his back lifting weights to a moth flying into his ear, odd things were the name of the game. He played just 124 games, the fewest since his rookie season, as a result. It’s also the first time since his rookie season that he hit below .300, with his line of .296/.388/.525. He added 22 home runs and 75 RBI. Despite the abbreviated season, Holliday’s performance helped him post a career high in OPS+ at 153, better than the 150 he put up in 2007, when he finished second in the MVP voting.