-Sorry about the lack of activity recently. A busy stretch for me personally has coincided with a real lack of activity with the Cards.
-As you all know, pitchers and catchers reported this week, and the Cardinal camp is filled with some intriguing questions besides how the new hitting coach is doing:
-Will Brendan Ryan, who finally had his bum wrist operated on,be ready by opening day?
-Who will take hold of the 5th starter spot?
-Will John Mozeliak use his remaining “bullet” this spring, and if so, on whom?
Time will tell on the Brendan Ryan situation, as he is expected to report to Jupiter for rehab this next week. His medical prognosis seems good for now, but untill he starts swinging a bat it will be hard to guage the situation. If Ryan were to be down for an extended period of time, Tyler Greene figures to make the 25 man roster. Most projection systems call for an OPS of around .700 for Greene, who has shown promising tools but is also plagued by high strikeout totals offensively. On defense, Greene is projected to be average, which doesn’t seem right after seeing him make several outstanding plays a year ago. It’s hard to say without seeing him consistently, but perhaps Greene also struggles with consistency on his defense. In any event, if Ryan is down for a significant amount of time Greene should be the top option to fill in, as Julio Lugo’s balky knees no longer make him a passable option at short for any extended period of time.
-A lot is being made about whether Jaime Garcia, Kyle McClellan, or Rich Hill will take hold of the opening in the starting rotation, and all have positives and negatives to enter into the equation. Garcia probably has the brightest future of the three, but is entering his first full year back from TJ surgery and could probably benefit from spending at least the first half of the year down in Memphis. Kyle McClellan is probably the favorite as things stand today, but he too has had his share of injuries in the past and his entering into the rotation creates a vacancy in the bullpen. Hill is the most intriguing out of the three, as he is just two years removed from an impressive 183 strikeout campaign as a member of the Cubs. If Hill shows that he has regained his command after shoulder surgery a year ago, which is admittedly a big if, he could surprise.
-As of right now John Mozeliak is taking a “wait and see” approach before making any additional additions to the roster. He’s very “bullish” on David Freese at third base, and notes that players who want to sign quickly such as Felipe Lopez may not fit with his desire to evaluate what they Cardinals have in camp before making any moves. There could potentially be a fit for another ex-Cardinal in Russ Springer or Kiko Calero, who is coming off a solid season for the Marlins, if Kyle McClellan wins the 5th starter job and Josh Kinney fails to replace him in the bullpen.
-That’s what is going on in Cardinal Nation at the moment, and hopefully by next week we will have a sense of where Brendan Ryan and his injured wrist stands. I don’t expect any moves to be made until the games begin in Spring Training, but Mozeliak has also stated that he will be “opportunistic,” so if the right player came along at the right price he could jump. Finally, I don’t expect any headway in the 5th starter competition to made until the games begin either, so it appears it will stay a three horce race for now.