Nationals 11, Cardinals 1

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Today’s was a forgettable game for the Cardinals made seemingly more irrelevant by the news this afternoon that the Cardinals had signed Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz to a four-year.

You can read my full story about the signing here. It includes a scouting report on Diaz, some great insight from manager Mike Matheny and a look at how the Cardinals’ recent investment in the international arena made this  possible. I have a few additional thoughts on the signing that I’ll offer here:

  • For those of you instantly concerned about finding a place for Diaz to play, be patient. For one, Diaz is going to begin the season in the Minors. It’s uncertain when exactly he’ll be ready for the big leagues, and anything can happen (injuries, ineffectiveness, etc.) in that interim to clarify where he’ll fit. Also, Diaz does not have to stay at short, just like Jhonny Peralta is not firmly planted there either. Diaz could play second. Peralta could play third. Having Matt Carpenter able to play second or third would allow for all sorts of shuffle. If Diaz is Major League ready, the Cardinals will make room.
  •  As I was going thinking through the makeup of the Cardinals’ roster (position players only) recently, it struck me that the Cardinals were going to enter the season lacking depth at three positions — catcher, third base and second base. Not that the team doesn’t players capable of filling in at those positions; but those were the spots where an injury to the starter would cost them the most production — whether it be replacing Carpenter with Daniel Descalso, Peralta with Pete Kozma, Yadier Molina with Tony Cruz… you get the point. Anyways, this signing basically eliminates two-thirds of that concern. If the Cardinals had to go without Carpenter or Peralta for a period of time, you now have a way to fill that hole with a bat that plenty of people are excited about. Yes, it might not be equal production, but it’s likely to be closer. The Cardinals covet versatility and depth. This deal offered a bit of both.
  • With Diaz and Carpenter now under long-term deals, the Cardinals have six position players signed through 2017 — Matt Holliday (if his option is exercised), Molina, Allen Craig, Diaz, Carpenter and Peralta. That doesn’t even include others like Matt Adams and Kolten Wong, who will still be under team control at that point if the Cardinals retain them. Analysis: the long-term outlook is quite rosy.

The Cardinals will introduce Diaz to the media on Monday, at which time GM John Mozeliak will also talk about the signing. He was at the Cardinals’ game on Sunday but declined comment.

***

The stat line was ugly — 2 1/3 innings, seven hits, five earned runs, two walks and one strikeout — but it was one of those it-wasn’t-as-bad-as-it-looks outings for Joe Kelly. He gave up four of those runs on five singles in the third inning. One of those hits was a routine groundball out until it caromed off third base. Another landed maybe 20 feet in front of home plate.

Kelly did give up a leadoff home run to Anthony Rendon, but he was otherwise mostly effective getting groundballs. That’s a sign that his sinker is working.

“I feel like my stuff is getting better,” Kelly offered afterward. “I made some good pitches and they had a few infield hits there. That’s the way it went down. I don’t really think I made any pitches. I was commanding my heater, I think. The change-up was good. I got some really good swings-and-misses with that.”

Kelly did have good command of his change-up, a pitch he didn’t use in his first outing. He continues, too, to work on incorporating the curveball. That’s part of what this time of the year is for (developing pitches) and another reason why results can be deceiving.

“I think his curveball got hit a couple times, but I still like what he’s doing with it,” Matheny said. “I think it’s something that he has to keep refining, picking the right spots, the right batters. But I still like the way it was working. Just not getting a lot of positive results from it right now.”

***

Seth Maness continues to seek some positive results, too, and he didn’t find any on Sunday. After giving up two runs on four hits while blowing a save on Friday, ‘the groundball guy’ allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings against Washington.

The sinker is a feel pitch, and Maness continues to try and find his. There continue to be too many balls hit in the air off Maness, who thrives by piling up the groundball outs and not walking anyone.

“I think he’s just not as sharp as he wants to be right now,” Matheny said. “But we have time. I know he’s ready to start seeing that consistent down-in-the-zone, put-the-ball-on-the-ground like we know he can do. The things like walks, those aren’t things you see him do very often. He’s off a click. He’s got time to get it fixed.”

Follow me on Twitter (@LangoschMLB), Instagram (LangoschMLB) and Facebook (Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com)

1 Comment

Does this performance cause any concern about relying only on young arms rather than getting one or two veterans to anchor the staff with Waino? And how will they avoid fatiguing him like last year if others under-perform and he pitches as many innings as last year (when he had no reserves for the World Series?).

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