Feb. 14: Q of the Day

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I’d like to hear about your thoughts about who you think will be on the 25-man roster, as well as who the starting rotation might be.  I know the latter will be a real wait-and-see situation since a couple of the young guys have to take advantage of an opportunity to step into that role. 

– Layton J., Springfield, Mo.

Aside from the starting rotation, there aren’t many position battles to sort out this spring. That certainly boosts my chances of correctly picking the Cardinals’ Opening Day 25-man roster. Still, as the team stands now — and remember, injuries could derail any projection — I see four spots up for grabs: one in the rotation, two in the bullpen and one on the bench. With that in mind, here is an early guess at how things might shake out:

POSITION PLAYERS (13)

  • Catchers: Yadier Molina, Tony Cruz
  • Infielders: Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso, Rafael Furcal, Ronny Cedeno, David Freese, Ty Wigginton
  • Outfielders: Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran, Shane Robinson

* Robinson is the one in that still very much has to earn his spot. While the Cardinals filled out their bench with the free-agent signings of Wigginton and Cedeno this winter, the club is likely to want to carry someone who can play center field. Robinson or Adron Chambers would be able to fill this need.

PITCHERS (12)

  • Starters: Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller
  • Relievers: Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica, Marc Rzepczynski, Randy Choate, Fernando Salas, Joe Kelly

* Predicting who the Cardinals will name their fifth starter was really, really challenging. It’s hard not to see an argument for the inclusion of any of the three young pitchers — Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal — in the rotation. Kelly has the most Major League experience and gave the Cardinals quality starts with regularity last season. Rosenthal dazzled out of the bullpen and clearly has a special arm. He can maintain a velocity in the high-90s as a starter, too. And then there’s Miller, who, of the three, had the most attention in the Minors. There’s no question he has a high ceiling, and he appeared to right himself during the second half of last season.

Having overcome his first true taste of adversity in 2012, I could see Miller taking a huge step forward this year, which is why I gave him the edge for the rotation spot. He clearly has the pitches to be effective in the Majors, and he now looks much closer to having the mental game to complement that.  That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly or Rosenthal get the nod.

** I’d give Salas an edge on a bullpen spot because of his experience and the way he rebounded after a slow start to his 2012 season.

*** Filling that last bullpen spot was also difficult. I sense there is a strong chance it will be filled by one of the three young pitchers who doesn’t crack the rotation. Since I put Miller in the rotation, I went with Kelly in the bullpen. This is no criticism of Rosenthal, who could well end up being the best of the three. As you watched him dominate during last postseason, it was hard not to imagine Rosenthal pitching as a closer in a few years. But I think the Cardinals remain intrigued with Rosenthal’s long-term potential in a starting role, and that’s why he could benefit from getting some more experience in Triple-A. He would then be in position to help in St. Louis should a rotation opening arise during the season.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

3 Comments

Position players – Like Shane, but would love to see Matt Adams break in at first base and move Craig into outfield spot, with Beltran rotating all 3 OF spots. Matt Carp can be our 5th outfielder. I don’t think Carlos will have the same output in 2013, so we will need more bats, Shane isn’t it.

Pitchers – Rosenthal will get called up as soon as Garcia goes down, probably as a reliever, with Kelly taking Garcia’s slot in the rotation. Don’t wish Jaime bad luck, but he does have some history that challenges his full season durability potential. I like your Salas pick until he proves us wrong.

Rhino I think you’ve got it right. Matt Adams really has to impress in spring to crack the roster though; we all know what he can do in AAA but if he can translate that production to the bigs remains to be seen. Hopefully he can show enough to force the hand but I see him as a trade chip in the future. Craig is a 1B by trade and though he can handle a corner OF spot, I think he’ll be left well enough alone at first. I find it hard to envision Rosenthal’s arm not cracking the opening day roster though, given his value to the club, regardless of how much work they want him to get as a starter if he doesn’t make the Cards’ rotation. Cost controlled shut down relievers are a blessing and should be treated as such in my opinion. That said, I agree that Garcia will most likely spend some time on the DL and Rosie can slide right in from out of the pen. I really like Joe Kelly but out of those 3 he has the lowest celing. Maybe a long reliever if nothing else? And here’s to hoping Matt Carpenter can show enough to earn the 2B gig! No offense to Descalso, but mini Carp learning from Mabry is a match made in heaven.

Thanks for your thoughtful reply Jen. I did think though, that Craig was a lifetime outfielder converted to 1st base, rather than vice versa. That said, he is our first baseman for the time being . When Matt Adams was first up he did show good skills there (not great) and did in fact, hit pretty well, trailing off a little bit before he was sent back down.

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