Paul Goldshmidt has, so far, impressed Cardinal fans and Reggie Jackson during Spring Training. Meanwhile,Tyler O'Neil is opening eyes during the early part of Spring Training and Dexter Fowler is struggling at the plate. These are just two of the issues surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals during the early part of the 2019 Spring Training.
I'm not a very good Spring Training fan. Don't get me wrong, I always look forward to Spring Training every year. It;s just that it starts to bore me rather quickly, and I start looking forward to the start of the regular season.
Why? Maybe it's that the games don't count or the games are played during the middle of the day and I can't catch most of them. Or maybe it's because the names I see playing early in ST are names I don't recognize.
Although, I like to see what prospects are getting a good look by the Cardinals, after two or three innings, I begin to channel surf. So by the second week of ST, I'm ready for the regular season.
However, the contest in Right Field and the looming issue of extending Paul Goldschmidt, does keep me tuned in to Spring Training in 2019.
The Infield looks set, as does center field. Additionally, it seems the rotation and bullpen issues are gradually working themselves out as we get deeper into Spring Training. The Cardinals also managed to extend MIles MIkolas recently, taking that issue off the board. Certainly, some issues are clearing up and others are to be determined.
While we wait patiently for the season to start, I want to take a look at Right Field and a possible Paul Goldschmidt extension.
The Right Field Conundrum
Who plays right field is the most controversial topic among Cardinal fans coming into 2019. Everyone knows the front office would like to see Dexter Fowler as the everyday starter in Right Field. However, Jose Martinez and Tyler O'Neill are fan favorites and will be in play during spring training for the job.
Jose Martinez, in spite of being the Cardinals best offensive player in 2018, appeared to be on the trading block during much of the off season. But in February the Cardinals signed Martinez to a two year, $3.25 million contract and any trade talks ended.
Tyler O'Neill has been knocking the cover off the ball so far in Spring Training. As of Wednesday, he has four home runs,six RBIs in 27 at bats, and an OPS of 1.135. If O'Neil can improve his plate discipline from last year, he could find himself starting somewhere in the outfield before season's end, or maybe even on Opening Day.
Dexter Fowler is the front offices preference to be the starting rightfielder in 2019. His contract gives Fowler an advantage over Martinez and O'Neill, but Dexter does have skills that can help the Cardinals. His speed,power, and versatility is real, as we saw in 2017. Additionally,the front office hopes the change in managers will help the 32-year old switch hitter. Nevertheless, with Martinez and O'Neill on the roster,it will be important for Fowler to get off to a good start in 2019.
How Right Field plays out during the rest of Spring Training and the early part of the regular season will be interesting.
Extending Paul Goldschmidt
When Paul Goldshmidt arrived to the Cardinals in December, contract extension seemed to be a priority for the Cardinal front office. In fact, Cardinlas President of Baseball Operations, John Mozeliak and Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr, said as much during the Winter Warmups.
But since the start of Spring Training the chatter about Goldschmidt extending with the Cardinals has evaporated. On top of this, the four time Silver Slugger Award winner has been coy about any extension.
But it's too early to panic about any extension concerning Goldschmidt. The Cardinals have exclusive negotiating rights with the first baseman until November. This gives the Cardinals front office seven months to sell him on wearing the birds-on-the-bat for the rest of his career.
In the meantime, Goldschmidt has been speaking with his bat during his first Spring Training as a Cardinal. So far, in only 26 plate appearances, he is hitting .350, with a .900 OPS.
Cardinal fans need to remember when Matt Holiday arrived as a Cardinal in mid-season during the 2009 season. Holiday, a Scott Boras client, was in the last year of his contract in 2009 and there was some question whether the Cardinals could resign him. The Cardinals did sign Holiday, but not until January of 2010, to seven-year, $120 million deal.
I don't know who will be starting in Right Field on March 28th in Milwaukee. Tyler O'Neil is making an early case and Dexter Fowler hasn't found his bat yet. Jose Martinez, with his limited defensive abilities, can really on play Right Field. Also it's hard to see him sitting on the bench for any stretch of time.
I believe Paul Goldschmidt won't be extended until the off-season, and that will be his choice, not the Cardinals. This is his last chance for a big payday and if he has a 'Paul Goldschmidt type of year', he will get it.
Stay tuned and for this is one of the most interesting Spring Training in some time. Even I am paying more attention. Thanks for reading and you may follow me on Twitter @frrobinson1957.