The Cardinals made additions and subtractions since the season ended.
A. Five players signed to minor league contracts.
B. Four players elected for free Agency Matt Adams, Bud Norris, Tyson Ross and Adam Wainwright.
C. They signed one of them (Adam Wainwright).
A. Three players were claimed by other teams off waivers Greg Garcia (San Diego), Matt Bowman (Cincinnati), Conner Greene(Kansas City).
B. Four players were signed to minor league contracts
C. Four players were signed to minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training. RHPs William Perez, Adam Hauschild, LHPs Hunter Cervenka, Tommy Layne,
D. Four Memphis contracts were purchased by St Louis RHP Ryan Hensly, LHP Genesis Cabrera, 2B Ramon Urias, CF Lane Thomas
A. Traded RHP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, 2B Andy Young and future considerations for 1B Paul Goldschmidt.
B. Claimed RHP Ryan Messinger then later designated for assignment.
C. Traded 3B Patrick Wisdom for CF Drew Robinson.
D. Signed Free Agent RHP Andrew Miller
So what does all this mean for the line up?
Outfield: Two-thirds of the OF set with Marcell Ozuna in LF and Harrison Bader CF. That means, Dexter Fowler, Tyler O'Neil and Jose Martinez will all be in the mix for the RF job. Others who will get a look see could be Drew Robinson who is a CF, Justin Williams and Adrolis Garcia. Also expect Lane Thomas to get a look as well.
Infield: is set 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 2B Kolten Wong, SS Paul DeJong, 3B Matt Carpenter. I think I can safely say, I don't see any other true options. Jedd Gyorko could be an option at 3B IF Carpenter has problems but he and Yario Munoz make good dual utility players. Edmond Sosa or Ramon Urias could make an impact and play their way onto the roster if Munoz or Gyorko have problems or If Gyorko is traded. Then you also have JMart who could play 1B if needed.
Catcher: Yadier Molina, no back up, no one challenging him. He is the only catcher listed on the 40 man roster The only real In-House options are Andrew Knizner and recently acquired Joe Hudson. Quite truthfully unless Molina goes down with a long term injury I don't see Knizner with the team.
Bench: This becomes problematic. Do we carry 4 or 5 man bench? I prefer 5 but that will depend on how the bullpen shakes out. As it stands right now we have: Martinez 1B/RF, Gyorko 3B/2B/1B, Munoz 3B/SS/2B, O'Neil or D. Fowler OF. Then of course the outside shots of Sosa, Robinson or Garcia. I think the locks are.
Yario Munoz 3B/SS/2B
Tyler O'Neil or Dexter Fowler OF
back up catcher ????
If we carry 5 and no deals are made (other than back up catcher) JMart 1B/RF and Gyroko 3B/2B/1B round out the bench.
That brings us to a back up catcher. As I said the in house options are limited (Hudson). I think a more likely option is going to be a Free Agent pick up. Someone like A.J. Ellis, Matt Wieters or resigning Fransisco Pena. I have heard people mention Steven Voght or Nick Hundley. People have also brought up the names of Martin Maldonado or even Johnathan Lucroy. Not sure either of those are willing to drop to a back up/PH role.
Rotation: I think it is pretty clear that Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty are locks for the rotation and CMart seems to be a safe bet. After that there are about 5 or 6 options. I would like to see a left hander in the rotation. That only in house option (barring a future move is Austin Gomber). They could if they were inclined to pursue say a Dallas Keuchel or another established LH starter. There is also Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, John Gant, Daniel Poncedeleon even Dakota Hudson and Anthony Reyes are being talked about for the rotation.
Left hand relief. Last season the additions of Chasen Shreve, Tyler Webb were an effort to bring in some left hand help for the ineffectiveness of Brett Cecil and Tyler Lyons. This year we bring in Andrew Miller. Miller puts 6 LHP on the 40 man roster when you count Bret Cecil, Austin Gomber and Genesis Cabrera. I don't see The Cardinals going with more than 3 LH in the bullpen and 1 in the rotaion. Because of this this expect to see the Cardinals bite the bullet and release Brett Cecil, unless he has a totally STUD Spring Training and put Cabrera in Memphis.
Multi-inning relief would seem to be the next thing to look at. Mike Mayers was the only real multi-inning pitcher out of the Bullpen last year. John Brebbia pulled some of those stints as did Hudson and even Daniel Poncedeleon. but it was mostly Mayers. In the mix this year will be possibly Wainright or Wacha maybe Gant or even Dominic Leone.
Late inning work is the big question on everyone's mind. Jordon Hicks is a definite late inning option as will be Miller. Other names that will be looked at are Hudson and if he is healthy Luke Gregerson could be in the mix possibly even Anthony Reyes
Situational relief could fall to guys like Shreve, Gregerson, Webb or Leone.
Making things even could fall to guys like Shreve, Gregerson, Webb or Leone out of options Gant, Shreve and Mayers. Given that and the signing of Miller That would seem to leave 3 to 4 slots open for Hicks, Hudson, Brebbia, Poncedeleon, Webb, Cecil, Gregerson, Leone, Reyes and Wainwright. Then we have Giovanny Gallegos and Genesis Cabrera that could possibly figure in. To say we have a surplus of arms is an understatement.
At this point I am not sure we will see a true closer (unless we sign one) so I think you will see more of a situational closer. Miller, Hicks and maybe Hudson or Gregerson (if he is back to form) could be in that role. The one player that is a huge unknown would be Reyes. From all reports it appears that the Cardinals want to still make him a starter. Stretching him out again will be the key. The time frame appears to be similar to last year (a May or June call up). They are open to putting him in the Pen when he is ready to come up if there are no problems with the rotation. This could be in the form of late inning relief or situational as well.
Closer options We have Miller, Hicks possibly Hudson or Reyes (after May)
Set up options Are pretty much the same as the closer options, but I would add say Gregerson to that list
6th inning option Can be any number of guys but I think Leone, Hudson, Brebbia or Poncedeleon will be in that role.
Situational Would be Shreve and or Webb from the left side. Possibly Gregerson, Leone, Reyes, Brebbia from the right.
Middle to long relief Meyers has the inside track It could also include Wainwright or Wacha Maybe Reyes at some point Hudson or even Poncedeleon. Possibly even Gomber if he does not make the rotation.
So Having said all that, here is my roster for opening day
1B/OF J. Martinez
C ? (Weiters)
SP C. Martinez
RP/SU Gregerson or Brebbia
RP/SU Hudson or Leon
I do feel that Reyes will be part of the pitching staff at some point. Whether it will be May or June and in what role, will be up to the Cardinals.
What they do about the back up catcher situation or closer could have a big effect on the final roster we could see moves in terms of Free Agent signings or trades involving names like J. Martinez, Gyroko or some young arms like Gant, Poncedeleon or even for the right deal a Hudson.
I see us making moves in the next week or two in terms of a back up catcher. and there is always the possibility of a surprise move prior to pitchers and catchers reporting.
I will close with my favorite Jack Buck send off
"Thanks for your time, this time, until next time, so long."
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