March 2009

Tuesday camp tidbits: Acknowledging the obvious

Hello from warm, muggy Fort Lauderdale.

* TLR finally acknowledged what we have all known for quite some time now: Adam Wainwright will start Opening Day, and the current rotation order is how they will go into the season. Wainwright-Lohse-Wellemeyer-Carpenter-Pineiro.

* Yadier Molina is batting second today and serving as the designated hitter. The plan for the final few days down here is to start LaRue and have Molina come off the bench to catch the relievers, since he hasn’t worked with them much at all this spring.

* Khalil Greene and Albert Pujols stayed back in Jupiter, getting a “half and half” day per TLR — they were to take a lot of swings this morning, then have the afternoon off. Every other healthy player is on the trip, including the starting pitchers. However, the hope was that the Cardinals could work out on the fields here, but that was scratched when Baltimore didn’t get in until very late after a night game last night. The O’s thus started late, and the Cardinals had to settle for extra time on the main field.

* Got a story coming later today on Jason Motte and the closing situation. TLR expressly refused to acknowledge Motte as even the primary guy, never mind the only guy. But he said that to some extent, the competition is ongoing, and someone could seize it during the year.

Today’s playlist:
Hum: “Stars”
Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Don’t Forget Me”
Spoon: “The Underdog”
Talking Heads: “Blind”
Pearl Jam: “Yellow Ledbetter”


Perez optioned; pitching staff set

JUPITER, Fla. — The Cardinals set their pitching
staff on Monday, optioning right-hander Chris Perez to Triple-A
Memphis. The move leaves 12 healthy pitchers in camp.

St. Louis elected to carry long reliever Brad Thompson on the Opening
Day roster, a move that was admittedly as much tactical as it was any
reflection on the overall merits of Thompson and Perez.

“I’m sure he’d rather pitch in the big leagues,” manager Tony La Russa
said, “but he knows he’s highly regarded, and he’s young.”

The Cardinals will take seven relievers north: righties Jason Motte,
Ryan Franklin, Kyle McClellan, Josh Kinney and Thompson and
left-handers Dennys Reyes and Trever Miller.

Additionally, St. Louis re-assigned catcher Matt Pagnozzi to Minor League camp. The Cardinals thus have 26 healthy players in camp, leaving them one move still to make before their full Opening Day roster is set.

Monday lineup

Intriguing lineup for several reasons vs Marlins lefty Andrew Miller:

1. Rasmus CF
2. Mather LF
3. Pujols 1B
4. K.Greene SS
5. Ludwick RF
6. Freese 3B
7. LaRue C
8. Pineiro RHP
9. Barden 2B

All righties except Rasmus. Interesting to see Greene in the 4 hole. Interesting to see Barden on the right side of the diamond.


Sunday camp tidbits: Time for a game

Hello from gray, humid Fort Myers, where it does appear we’re finally going to get a game in.

* Joe Mather was initially written in as the leadoff hitter and designated hitter today, but he and Schumaker have been flipped — Schu first and Mather 9th. TLR said before the game that wanted to make sure to get Mather some extra at-bats, and no official explanation yet as to the flip-flop. Mather’s slump is definitely an area of concern at this point.

* The Twins made a couple of last-minute scratches from their lineup, resulting from the long delay and wet field. Cards, however, made no adjustments to WHO was playing — just the order. And honestly the field does not look very bad. Overheard someone saying this is a very well-regarded grounds crew.

* The crowd here at Hammond Stadium appears to be more than half Cardinals fans.

* Believe it or not, there are only two decisions to be made on the roster. Matt Pagnozzi won’t make the team, and aside from him, there are only 27 other healthy players in camp. It’s basically down to which RH reliever gets sent out, and which utility-type gets sent out.

Today’s playlist:
Pearl Jam: “In Hiding”
Drive-By Truckers: “A Ghost to Most”
Elvis Costello: “Sulky Girl”
U2: “Numb”
Aimee Mann: “Wise Up”


Wednesday camp tidbits: Reyes, Perez good to go

T-minus eight days before breaking camp, and things are definitely coming into focus.

* Today’s lineup looks an awful lot like what we can probably expect to see against right-handed starters in the regular season. 1.Schumaker 2B — 2.Ankiel CF — 3.Pujols 1B — 4.Duncan LF — 5.Ludwick RF — 6.Greene SS — 7.Molina C — 8. Freese 3B — 9.Pineiro P

* Which brings us to the next tidbit, this weekend’s plan. The Cardinals will send a representative lineup to Fort Myers on Friday for the game against the Red Sox — basically today’s lineup plus, probably, Colby Rasmus as the DH. Those guys will stay in Fort Myers, work out on Saturday and make up the bulk of Sunday’s lineup against the Twins.

* Dennys Reyes and Chris Perez have both been cleared to pitch and both are expected to be available for today’s game. From here to the end of spring, most pitchers will be used just as they would in regular-season game situations. However, that may be a little different at first for Reyes. Because he has pitched so little this spring, they may use him for a full inning at a time at first, rather than just for a batter or two.

* The mailbag is not completely dead, though it’s going to happen less often and it has a new name: Inbox. If you’d like to submit a question for the next inbox, fire it at me by using this link. If enough questions are submitted today, I might even write one today.

Today’s playlist:
REM: “I Believe”
Modest Mouse: “We’ve Got Everything”
Muse: “Knights of Cydonia”
Black Crowes: “My Morning Song”
Mike Doughty: “27 Jennifers”


Latest roster projection

“This could be a lot more — uh, complex! I mean, it’s not just, it might not be such a simple… uh… you know? … I’ve got information, man! New [stuff] has come to light!”

Sometimes the Dude just says it so much better than I can. So with that intro, here’s the newest roster projection, following the cuts the last two days. Except for starting pitchers, in each case they are listed from the guy I am most sure will be on the team down to the guy I am least sure.

Starting Pitchers (5)
Adam Wainwright
Kyle Lohse
Todd Wellemeyer
Chris Carpenter
Joel Pineiro

Relief Pitchers (7)
Ryan Franklin
Dennys Reyes
Trever Miller
Kyle McClellan
Jason Motte
Josh Kinney
Brad Thompson

Catchers (2)
Yadier Molina
Jason LaRue

Infielders (6)
Albert Pujols
Khalil Greene
Skip Schumaker
Joe Thurston
Brendan Ryan
David Freese

Outfielders (5)
Rick Ankiel
Ryan Ludwick
Chris Duncan
Colby Rasmus
Joe Mather

There really aren’t many questions left at this point. One is right side of the bullpen. Looks like three guys for two spots — Perez, Kinney and Thompson. Even more specifically, I think it’s Thompson vs Perez for one spot. I still think they’re going to take Thompson, but I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

One is Mather. If he’s on, at this point I think he’s on as an outfielder and they take six infielders. Another possibility is to send him down and go with seven infielders, with the knowledge that Ryan and Thurston would play some infield. Ultimately I think that competition comes down to Mather vs Barden. But I’m also not certain that Barden is in third place versus Ryan and Thurston. More broadly, and probably more accurately, it looks like four guys for three spots: Ryan, Thurston, Barden and Mather.

I have a very difficult time right now seeing this roster without Rasmus on it.


Monday camp tidbits: Waiting for Dennys

Plenty of stuff going on in camp today…

* Dennys Reyes has arrived. He has a uniform number (36) and a locker. He was initially expected to throw a bullpen this morning, but his physical had not been completed at that point. He got up briefly in the stadium bullpen just a few minutes ago.

* Chris Perez threw a bullpen session this morning with no apparent complications. Planning to have something on the site about it later today.

* TLR said that Troy Glaus’ recovery has slowed a bit — not a setback, but a plateau — and that the idea of Glaus getting in any Grapefruit League games is now unrealistic.

* The Cardinals released five Minor League players today: Joe Rogers, Isa Garcia, Christian Rosa, Nick Vera and Miguel Flores.

* As has already appeared on the site, Luke Gregerson was announced as the PTBNL in the Khalil Greene trade.

Today’s playlist, all Metallica in honor of the return of XM Mandatory Metallica:
“Disposable Heroes”
“Harvester of Sorrow”
“Broken, Beat and Scarred”
“Turn the Page”
“Damage, Inc.”


Last-minute lineup change: Mather in, Rasmus out

Shortly before game time today, the Cardinals announced that they have made a lineup change. Joe Mather is in the lineup, and Colby Rasmus is out, and several players were shifted around to different spots in the batting order.

According to the club, it has nothing to do with any physical issues. Instead, it has to do with a rainout yesterday altering the Orioles’ plans. La Russa believed that the O’s were starting a right-hander. When he found out it was instead lefty Mark Hendrickson, he made the switch.

The new lineup:

1. Schumaker 2B — 2.Mather LF — 3.Pujols 1B — 4. Ludwick RF — 5.KGreene SS — 6.Ankiel CF — 7.Molina C — 8.Freese 3B — 9.Wellemeyer P


Sunday camp tidbits 2

The sun is back in Jupiter, thankfully. They had a 2 1/2-hour rain delay here yesterday for the Marlins and Red Sox.

* As mentioned earlier, David Freese is back in camp and starting at third base today.

* Dennys Reyes’ arrival has been delayed a bit more, but the Cardinals expect him to arrive at some point today and to be in camp tomorrow. He could pitch as early as Wednesday, but they’re not going to push him.

* The next round of cuts should come either today or tomorrow.

* TLR on Kyle McClellan: “He’s not quite in sync. … He’s got work to do and he should be fine.” McClellan will throw a bullpen tomorrow and be available to pitch in the game on Wednesday. Story coming on McClellan later today.

* Chris Perez could throw off a mound tomorrow, which would potentially make him available for a game on Wednesday.

* TLR on the possibility of carrying 13 pitchers in the season: “I hope not.”

Today’s playlist:
Replacements, “Valentine”
Chairlift, “Bruises”
Hot Hot Heat: “You Owe Me An IOU”
Papas Fritas: “Lame To Be”
Cardigans: “Carnival”


Sunday morning tidbits and lineup: Freese is back

* The Cardinals recalled David Freese from Minor League camp on Sunday. He’s starting at third base in the Sunday afternoon game against the Orioles. Freese had been sent down so that he could concentrate on recuperating from a left Achilles’ tendon injury that he sustained during the offseason.

* The pitcher is once again in the 9 spot for the Cardinals today.

* Lineup: 1.Schumaker 2B — 2.Rasmus LF — 3.Pujols 1B — 4.Ankiel CF — 5.Ludwick RF — 6.K.Greene SS — 7.Molina C — 8.Freese 3B — 9.Wellemeyer P

More extended tidbits coming later today.