Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

How are former Cardinals faring elsewhere?

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I realize there is an inundation of Spring Training coverage from all over Florida and Arizona, and that can make it tough to keep up with all that is going on in other camps. There have been several recent stories written about former Cardinals — and in case you missed those, I thought I would aggregate them here so those interested can check in on those former Redbirds. Here are those links:

  • Mark Ellis has announced his retirement after 12 seasons, the last of which came with St. Louis (link)
  • Why the Rockies saw value in bringing Daniel Descalso to Denver to fit into a utility role (link)
  • The Astros get their first up-close look at Pat Neshek’s funky delivery (link)
  • Shelby Miller and A.J. Pierzynski find themselves as batterymates once again… this time in Atlanta (link)
  • Tyrell Jenkins embracing opportunity to make an impact in a new organization (link)
  • Fernando Salas fine-tuning his sinker in Angels camp (link)
  • What Albert Pujols said could keep him from playing out the full 10 years on his current contract (link)
  • It’s a critical year ahead for David Freese, who will soon be facing free agency (link)
  • In Red Sox camp, Allen Craig is trying to prove his health and win back playing time (link)
  • Joe Kelly predicts that he will win the American League Cy Young Award this year (link)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of links, so if you have read any other interesting pieces about former Cardinals in recent days, feel free to add those in the comments section below.

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Catching up on coverage

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It’s Day 4 of Cardinals’ camp here in Jupiter, and just about everyone invited to participate is already in the house. Position players have until Tuesday to show up, with Wednesday circled as the first full-squad workout of the spring for manager Mike Matheny. New faces in the clubhouse this morning included Stephen Piscotty and Ty Kelly.

For those who may have missed any of the weekend coverage, here is a listing of links to help you catch back up on this Monday morning:

From Friday…

  • News and notes from Day 1 (here)
  • Clubhouse reaction to MLB’s rule changes to address pace of play concerns — with video (here)
  • How the Cardinals plan to monitor/control Adam Wainwright’s workload this season — with video (here)
  • Why Carlos Villanueva ended back up in the NL Central after telling his agent to get him out — with video (here)

From Saturday…

  • News and notes from Day 2 (here)
  • Jason Heyward will not open the season as a leadoff hitter and he’s glad about that — with video (here)
  • Jaime Garcia clarifies comments, would welcome any role on Major League club (here)
  • Go behind the scenes with players as they film commercials and in-season promotional spots — with video (here)

From Sunday…

  • Randy Choate had a change of attitude after his NLCS experience last October — with video (here)
  • Matheny puts on a catcher’s mask and gets behind the plate to catch prospect Alex Reyes — with video (here)
  • Matt Belisle benefits from the tipping pitches exercise that has become an annual feature of this camp (here)
  • Pete Kozma, Greg Garcia to get work behind the plate this spring (here)

For photos and others items of note, also follow the coverage on Twitter (@LangoschMLB), Instagram (LangoschMLB) and Facebook (Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com)

By the numbers…

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It’s the eve of the Cardinals’ report date for pitchers and catchers, though most everyone in that group has already arrived and gotten to work. They will have one more day of voluntary workouts before manager Mike Matheny runs his first official day of Spring Training on Friday.

The clubhouse staff has used this week to unpack dozens of boxes and set up the clubhouse for the influx of players. Unless there are any late adds to the group, the Cardinals will have 57 players in Major League camp. That includes 39 players from the 40-man roster and 18 non-roster folks.

For the baseball numerologists among you, players with new uniform numbers include: Matt Belisle (No. 37), Carlos Martinez (No. 18), Trevor Rosenthal (No. 44), Jordan Walden (No. 53), Michael Ohlman (No. 84), Dean Anna (No. 65), Ty Kelly (No. 68), Mark Reynolds (No. 12), Jason Heyward (No. 22) and Carlos Villanueva (No. 33). New assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller has taken No. 3, while Matheny chose No. 26 in honor of a friend who recently passed away.

***

A reminder that while this blog will still be updated occasionally, we’re moving almost all the content over to cardinals.com to make it easier for readers to navigate. The daily blog posts that used to be a staple of Spring Training will now appear as stories on the main site. Those will be in addition to the stories and videos that have always had a home there. If you have missed the coverage from the last few days, you can play catch up here:

From Monday…

  • Martinez has a new locker spot… at the request of Yadier Molina (link)
  • Spring Training Preview, Part 4: Cards ready for defense of National League Central title (link)
  • Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III offers four messages to fans on Presidents’ Day (link)
  • Video: Martinez on his new locker and quest to win a starting job (link)

From Tuesday…

  • Michael Wacha returns to the mound, eager to eliminate questions about his health (link)
  • Spring Training Preview, Part 5: Projecting the lineup, rotation and bullpen (link)
  • Notes and observations from the team’s voluntary workout (link)
  • Video: Wacha on his health and throwing program (link)

Photos and other headlines are also being posted throughout the day on Twitter (@LangoschMLB), Facebook (Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com) and Instagram (LangoschMLB). Follow each of the social media forums for the most up-to-date coverage.

Spring Training: It’s here

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Greetings from Jupiter, where the sun is coming out and the temperatures are, well, they’re probably higher than wherever you are reading this from, so I won’t rub it in. The Cardinals are still four days away from holding their first official spring workout, though several players are already here — throwing, hitting, fielding, spending time in the weight room, etc. These days are less structured since they aren’t mandatory, but they are fruitful.

I’ll be on the ground here for the next seven weeks, providing content for cardinals.com and giving you all hope of a coming spring. In the past, this blog has been used as a dumping ground for news, notes and observations during Spring Training. That content will still be readily available, but it will be provided a little differently this year. What used to be presented as a blog post will now, in most case, appear as a story in the cardinals.com headline stacks. It will not appear on the blog. By moving all of the content onto the cardinals.com homepage, we hope it’s easier for readers to navigate and find the day’s stories.

There will be stories posted throughout the day, beginning with a news/notes item after our morning access and then following with additional stories — news, issues, features — throughout the day. There will likely still be daily blog entries, but again, the majority of the content will be found in other forums.

Coverage won’t only come in the form of the written word, either. I am armed with a video recorder so that we can provide daily video packages on cardinals.com. The weekly podcasts I do with MLB.com columnist Phil Rogers will also continue (you can subscribe here). I’ll be shooting photos, which will be dropped onto my Twitter account (@LangoschMLB), Instagram account (LangoschMLB) and Facebook page (Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com).

The Twitter and Facebook pages will be what I use most frequently to disseminate information, so if you want to ensure that you’re up to date with the latest news, those are must-follows. And for the tablet readers among you, I will continue to run the Flipboard page (St. Louis Cardinals for MLB.com) that I started last spring.

I hope you find the coverage thorough and enjoyable throughout the spring. If you have any suggestions or story ideas, feel free to submit those in the comments section below.

Jay, Cardinals agree to two-year deal

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Jon Jay, the Cardinals’ lone remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player, has avoided a hearing by agreeing to a two-year deal worth $10.975 million. This marks the first multiyear contract of Jay’s career and will allow him to avoid the arbitration process next offseason as well.

The breakdown of the contract, according to a source, includes a $1.25 million signing bonus, $3.5 million salary for 2015 and $6.225 million salary for 2016. Jay will be free-agent eligible at the end of the deal.

Had an agreement not been reached between the two parties, Jay would have been the focus of an arbitration hearing next week. As it is, he’s the third arbitration-eligible to be awarded a multiyear deal by the Cardinals this winter. Reliever Jordan Walden and starter Lance Lynn also received more than a year-to-year guarantee.

Jay’s status within the organization changed fairly dramatically over the past year. After debuting in 2010 and becoming an everyday player in 2011, Jay opened 2014 unsure how much playing time he’d be given after the Cardinals acquired Peter Bourjos.

But Bourjos struggled in the early going, and Jay seized the opening to reassert himself as the club’s starting center fielder. He went on to lead the team with a .303 batting average while posting a .372 on-base percentage and .378 slugging percentage. He was hit 20 times, most in the Majors, and batted .483 during the postseason.

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Winter Warm-Up Wrap-Up

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Thanks to the many of you who stopped me in the halls of the Hyatt Regency this weekend to say hello. I hope those of you who attended the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up had an enjoyable time. For others who might have been unplugged over the holiday weekend, here is a rundown of links to the news that came out of the event:

  • New outfielder Jason Heyward meets Cardinal nation for the first time and officially receives his uniform no. 22 (link here).
  • Cardinals announce the eight modern ballot candidates up for selection to the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Voting to begin in early March (link here).
  • Matt Belisle and Mark Reynolds discuss their decisions to bypass other offers and sign with St. Louis (link here).
  • Nearly three months after hip surgery, Peter Bourjos is cleared to begin swinging (link here).
  • General manager John Mozeliak reiterates that the Cardinals are not actively shopping for a front-line starter (link here).
  • The Cardinals begin courting Heyward, who is open to talking about a long-term deal during the season (link here).
  • Kevin Siegrist has resumed throwing and feels much improved after an injury-plagued 2014 (link here).
  • The lineup may not yet be set, but the Cardinals are already expecting a more complete 2015 offense (link here).
  • Cardinals announce the organization’s plans to honor Oscar Taveras this season (link here).
  • Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha are both bullish about their good health heading into Spring Training (link here).
  • Kolten Wong looks to ride the coattails of his breakout postseason (link here).
  • As Trevor Rosenthal prepares for his second year as Cardinals closer, he’s seeking improved efficiency (link here).
  • Carlos Martinez is ready to compete for a rotation job and honor his lost friend (link here).

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Arbitration agreements for Lynn, Cruz

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

This is annually a busy week for transactions, as arbitration-eligible players and teams often prefer to settle negotiations before the two sides exchange figures (coming on Friday) and it becomes publicly known what each party is seeking. So it’s no surprise that the Cardinals cut their arbitration cases in half on Thursday by reaching agreements with Lance Lynn and Tony Cruz.

Both were first-time arbitration-eligible players, but that’s about the end of the similarities in their cases. Lynn, who was poised to become the highest paid first-time arbitration-eligible starting pitcher in history had he signed a one-year contract, instead inked a three-year deal guaranteeing him at least $22 million through 2017. After that, he’ll become a free agent.

Click here for more details on the deal and to read what general manager John Mozeliak said when asked about Lynn’s arbitration case and whether the organization sought to extend the contract to also cover Lynn’s first year(s) of free agency.

As for Cruz, he signs a one-year contract that, according to CBSSports.com, is worth $775,000. It’s nevertheless a nice raise for the backup catcher, who started more games in 2014 (35) than he had in any previous Major League season. For a full story on Cruz’s deal, click here.

This leaves Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos as the team’s two unsigned arbitration-eligible players. Mozeliak, speaking early this afternoon, said he did not anticipate the club reaching an agreement with either player before the end of the day. But conversations with the representatives of both players continue.

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Only six more weeks…

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

As St. Louis continues to deal with (sub) freezing temperatures, I hope it comes as a comfort to you that six weeks from today, the Cardinals will be holding their first official workout of 2015. I know that will do little to adjust the thermometer here, but consider it the first sign of a coming spring.

It has been a relatively quiet offseason for the Cardinals since mid-November, when the club made its biggest move (to date, at least) in dealing for outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden. Publically, the organization said that the move addressed the club’s biggest deficiencies. But could there be another big move ahead? That was something I explored yesterday in this story on cardinals.com.

As you debate whether the cost (dollars and talent) is worth the gain (top-end starting pitching), here is reminder of some other key dates ahead between now and Spring Training:

  • January 16: Unsigned arbitration-eligible players will exchange salary figures with the Cardinals. As of this moment, the Cardinals have four such players — Lance Lynn, Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos and Tony Cruz
  • January 16: Cardinals to host Hot Stove LIVE! (featuring Kolten Wong, Heyward, Mike Matheny and others) at Ballpark Village (6 pm CT) — more info here
  • January 16-19: Cardinals Caravan travels to six states — more info here
  • January 17-19: Cardinals Winter Warm-Up at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch hotel — more info here
  • January 18: St. Louis Baseball Writers dinner at the Renaissance hotel — more info here
  • February 1-21: Arbitration hearings for still unsigned players
  • February 19: Final date for pitchers/catchers to report to Spring Training

Also, if you’re interested in following winter ball activity that is still ongoing, all those statistics are just one click away at this page.

Another reminder, too, that this blog will be used to bring you daily news once Spring Training kicks off. In the meantime, for news, visit cardinals.com, where there are new stories posted daily.You can also find regular updates on Facebook (here) and Twitter (here).

Cards ink reliever Matt Belisle

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Right-handed reliever Matt Belisle, an 11-year Major League veteran, has agreed to a one-year contract with the Cardinals, the organization announced on Tuesday. The addition further fortifies the Cardinals’ bullpen, which is expected to lose 2014 contributors Pat Neshek and Jason Motte to free agency.

Belisle is the second reliever added to the Cardinals’ Major League roster this offseason. Right-hander Jordan Walden came over to the organization in the team’s four-player November trade with Atlanta. FOXSports.com reported that Belisle’s deal includes $3.5 million in guaranteed money with the ability to increase that salary to $4 million through appearance incentives.

Belisle, 34, was most recently with Colorado, where he made at least 66 appearances in five of his six seasons. That included 66 in 2014, a season in which Belisle posted a 4.87 ERA and 1.438 WHIP in 64 2/3 innings. He struck out 43 and walked 19. Since transitioning to a relief role after the 2008 season, Belisle has never walked more than 20 batters in a season.

In 2012, Belisle made a National League-most 80 appearances. Over the last five years, he ranks second in the Majors with 367 appearances and 10th with 91 Holds. Belisle’s career splits against left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters are nearly the same.

Prior to signing with the Rockies, Belisle pitched five seasons for the Reds. He was a second-round pick by the Braves in the 1998 First-Year Player Draft and made his Major League debut against the Cardinals in 2003.

With Belisle now in the mix, the Cardinals have given themselves sufficient coverage in the bullpen as they look ahead to 2015. Before adding Walden and Belisle, the club already had Trevor Rosenthal, Randy Choate, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist and Sam Freeman among those returning. Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales would also slide into bullpen roles if not in the Opening Day rotation.

The addition of Belisle brings the Cardinals’ 40-man roster count to 38.

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Cardinals programming on FSM

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

For those craving some Cardinals programming, FOX Sports Midwest has plans for weekly Cardinals-related shows throughout the month of December. Here is the information:

  • December 3: Cardinals Legends: 1996 Roundtable (6:30 pm, 9 pm)
  • December 10: Cardinals Hot Stove (7 pm, 9:30 pm)
  • December 10: Replay of Pirates at Cardinals game from Sept. 1, 2014 (7:30 pm)
  • December 17: Cardinals Confidential: Winter Meetings (6:30 pm)
  • December 25: Marathon of best games from 2014
  • December 31: Cardinals Hot Stove Year in Review (6:30 pm, 9 pm)

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

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