March 2010

Saturday lineup; tidbits to follow

Lineups for Saturday

Cardinals:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Ryan SS
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Lopez RF
6. Freese 3B
7. Mather CF
8. LaRue C
9. Penny RHP
Marlins:
1. Coghlan LF
2. Maybin CF
3. Ramirez SS
4. Cantu 3B
5. Uggla 2B
6. Baker C
7. Stanton RF
8. Sanchez 1B
9. Hensley RHP
Minor Leaguers up as extra bodies for the Cardinals today: Cutler, Descalso, Henley, Cazana, Solano
-M.

Roster math

No tidbits for you today, since they pretty much made it all onto the site in various forms. But I wanted to expound some on something I wrote regarding the cuts today.

The roster math is shaping up quite a bit, especially on the pitching side. There is exactly one pitching decision to be made: who will be the fifth starter.
When Fernando Salas and Pete Parise, two dark-horse roster candidates, were cut, it narrowed things down a great deal. For one thing, it cemented Mitchell Boggs’ and Blake Hawksworth’s places on the roster. Six relievers are now set: Ryan Franklin, Jason Motte, Boggs, Hawksworth, Trever Miller and Dennys Reyes. That’s in addition to the four starters who are set: Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse.
That’s 10 pitchers. No. 11 will be Kyle McClellan, either as the 11th reliever or the fifth starter. And from there, you answer the other question.
If McClellan is the fifth starter, then Adam Ottavino almost certainly becomes the seventh reliever. If Jaime Garcia or Rich Hill is the fifth starter, then McClellan is the seventh reliever.
A trade is possible. Rich Hill going to the bullpen is, distantly, possible. But in all reality, it comes down to that decision: McClellan to start and Ottavino to relieve, or one of the lefties to start and McClellan to relieve.
Elsewhere on the roster, the two catchers are of course set. You knew seven infielders and outfielders were set: Pujols, Schumaker, Ryan, Lopez, Holliday, Rasmus, Ludwick. But it’s become clear that so are two others: Freese and Mather. Mather is the backup center fielder. That’s pretty much done.
So then you’re looking at two other questions. One, what they do with the middle infield. If no trade materializes for Julio Lugo, then Lugo will very likely be on and Tyler Greene off — assuming Lugo is healthy. If Lugo can’t play, Greene makes the team.
It’s very difficult to envision Jon Jay making the team, though he’s still here so he hasn’t been eliminated yet. But if Jay is out, and I believe he will be, then the other remaining question is Stavinoha versus Craig. I believe Craig has the upper hand, but I also believe it’s not set in stone.
Really, though, on March 22, we have a surprisingly clear idea of how the roster will shake down.
Today’s playlist:
The Hold Steady, “Hurricane J”
That’s it, that’s today’s playlist. I’ve listened to it about 5 times already.
-M.

Pujols scratched due to tight lower back

Albert Pujols was initially slated to play in the Cardinals’ Monday afternoon game at home against the Red Sox, but instead has been scratched due to a recurrence of tightness in his lower back. 

Manager Tony La Russa confirmed on Monday morning that Pujols has been scratched as a result of the issue. La Russa had said on Sunday that Pujols would play in Monday’s game, and Pujols came back with the team following a Sunday contest on the road against the Braves — a game that was rained out in the second inning.
Pujols reported to the park on Monday morning but was not in the lineup on a rainy day as a result of the tightness. In his absence, scheduled third-base starter Ruben Gotay moved to first base and Donovan Solano started at third base.
-M.

Updated Monday home lineup

Updated lineup for the Cardinals’ home game against Boston:

1. Schumaker 2B
2. Ryan SS
3. Holliday (no position listed — LF or DH)
4. Rasmus CF
5. LaRue C
6. Jay RF
7. Gotay 1B
8. Henly LF or DH
9. Solano 3B
-M.

Sunday Spring Training tidbits

They only played one-plus inning here at Champion Stadium before the skies opened up and forced the game to be called, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have plenty of news. A good bit of it I’ve already covered elsewhere on the blog and the site, so be sure to check it all out, but a few tidbits are still left over.

* First, more weather. The forecast calls for a lot of rain in the morning in Jupiter, then tailing off in the afternoon, so a game seems likely but far from certain. I have to think they considered the weather in setting up the assignments, with many of the stars playing in Jupiter and Brad Penny going back down there, so I thus have to think that the team is confident that the game will be played.
* Julio Lugo, who is recuperating from a groin strain, is not in either lineup for tomorrow. I hope to update his condition tomorrow morning, but this does seem to be a little further behind than they initially hoped.
* Wednesday’s game will be started by either Rich Hill or Kyle McClellan, and both will pitch that day. But as for which one will start, that’s not determined. TLR said this morning that it would likely be Hill, but Dave Duncan said it had not been settled yet.
* The staff continues to refuse to acknowledge the relatively obvious, that Chris Carpenter is on track to be the Opening Day starter. Carpenter is scheduled to pitch on Thursday, with Adam Wainwright on Friday, which would put them on track to pitch the first two games.
However, the option does exist to get a bit creative, because each of them still gets one extra day of rest between now and Opening Day. If they stay on an every-fifth-day during Spring Training, then take the extra day between their last spring starts and their first regular-season starts, they would repeatedly face the same teams, which is not ideal. So don’t be surprised if there’s a little re-jiggering in the next couple of weeks.
Today’s playlist consists entirely of gems that were played here today at Champion Stadium:
Rolling Stones, “Dance Little Sister”
The Band, “Up On Cripple Creek”
Al Green, “Tired Of Being Alone”
Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Free Bird”
Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower”
-M.

Holliday to return Monday

Manager Tony La Russa announced on Sunday afternoon that Matt Holliday is expected to return to the Cardinals starting lineup for the team’s game on Monday afternoon against the Red Sox.

Holliday will be part of a star-laden lineup for the Redbirds at home against Boston. A team consisting of many fewer regulars will play against the Astros in Kissimmee as part of a split-squad day.
Holliday, 30, has not played for almost two weeks due to a strained right intercostal muscle. He last played on March 9 against the Twins in Fort Myers.
In three games thus far this spring, Holliday is 2-for-5 with two doubles and four walks.
Brad Penny will pitch for the Cardinals in the home game against Boston, while Kyle Lohse will start in Kissimmee.
-M.

Penny scratched due to weather and Cards make cuts

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Cardinals have scratched Brad Penny as their scheduled starting pitcher for Sunday’s game against the Braves.

According to club representatives, the move is a response to the threat of rain during the game. When the move was announced at approximately 12:40 p.m. ET, light rain was falling at Champion Stadium.
The worry is that even if the game starts on time, repeated delays could threaten the game and keep Penny from being able to turn in a full, uninterrupted outing. He might still pitch later in the game, if the rain passes through and it becomes clear that the remainder of the game could be played without a delay.
Walters, 25, will be making his first start of Spring Training. He reported to camp late after staying at home in Alabama to be with his wife and newborn, prematurely-arriving daughter.
Additionally, the Cardinals announced four roster moves. Josh Kinney was optioned to Triple-A Memphis, while Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn and Evan MacLane were re-assigned to Minor League camp.
-M. 

Sunday lineups; tidbits to follow

Lineups for today’s Cardinals-Heywards, I mean Braves, game at Champion Stadium:

Cardinals
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Ryan SS
3. Pujols 1B
4. Rasmus CF
5. Lopez 3B
6. Molina C
7. Stavinoha RF
8. Mather LF
9. Penny RHP
Braves
1. Cabrera LF
2. Prado 2B
3. Jones 3B
4. McCann C
5. Glaus 1B
6. Escobar SS
7. Heyward RF
8. Blanco CF
9. Jurrjens RHP
-M.

Opening Day roster projection, first guess

It’s time for an annual game that I usually start playing earlier in the spring. But I’m gone for the next couple of days (old friend’s wedding), so this seems like a good discussion piece to leave in the interim. This is an informed guess. I may be right, I may be wrong, but it’s my best guess as of right now.

Starting Pitchers (5)
Chris Carpenter
Adam Wainwright
Brad Penny
Kyle Lohse
Kyle McClellan
Relief Pitchers (7)
Ryan Franklin
Jason Motte
Mitchell Boggs
Blake Hawksworth
Dennys Reyes
Trever Miller
Fernando Salas (this spot will go to SOMEBODY who made the team in camp, IMO — unless, of course, Hill or Garcia starts and the last RH reliever is McClellan. But as of now I have McClellan in the rotation and Salas beating out a group that includes Josh Kinney and Pete Parise. VERY subject to change)
Catchers (2)
Yadier Molina
Jason LaRue
Infielders (6)
Albert Pujols
Skip Schumaker
Brendan Ryan
David Freese
Felipe Lopez
Julio Lugo
Outfielders (5)
Matt Holliday
Colby Rasmus
Ryan Ludwick
Allen Craig
Joe Mather
-M.

Salas forces his way into the picture

It’s unwise to put too much stock into Spring Training stats, with one notable exception. In Cardinals camp, appearances, innings and at-bats can tell you an awful lot.

Salas2.jpg
Fernando Salas made his fifth appearance of the Grapefruit League season on Thursday, and once again he pitched well. It may have been his best showing to date, as the right-hander struck out three in two shutout innings.
He’s caught the attention of pitching coach Dave Duncan.
“You know why guys get a chance to pitch?” Duncan asked when Salas’ name was brought up. “Because they get people out. When they get people out, if the opportunity is there and there’s a choice to be made, the guy that’s going to be chosen is the guy that’s getting the results.”
So Salas keeps getting to pitch.
He’s still something of a long shot. Several spots in the Cardinals bullpen look relatively settled: closer Ryan Franklin, right-handers Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs and lefties Trever Miller and Dennys Reyes. Blake Hawksworth’s spot as the long man appears relatively secure.
That still leaves one spot, though, and it’s likely a spot for a right-hander who pitches in short stints. Salas could be that pitcher.
“He’s got a chance,” manager Tony La Russa said. 
Said Duncan: “He’s got a two-seam fastball. He’s got a four-seam fastball. He’s got a nice little changeup. He’s got an inconsistent breaking ball. I’d like to see his breaking ball improve. He throws 90, 91 miles an hour. He’s not somebody who’s just out there. He’s got some weapons. I like him.”
(Photo by Danny Wild/MLB.com)
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