Cards Roster Leaves Room For Questions and Little Optimism.

(Webster Groves, Mo. 3/29/11) The Cardinals revealed their expected 25-man roster today. At first glance you see what you expect. Pujols, Molina, Holliday and the other big names are there. But what that roster doesn’t show you is great offense or much defense either.

Lance Berkman batting .182 this spring. (Photo via stlcardinals.com)

The Cardinals spent the offseason making moves to improve their offense. Lance Berkman had the bat that was missing down the stretch last year. New shortstop Ryan Theriot was going to provide the offense that our middle infield lacked last season.

I guess that means batting a whopping .182 with two extra base hits and 3 RBI if your name is Lance Berkman. Talk about mind blowing offense. What about Theriot? Well look no further for your offensive increase for this ballclub. Theriot batte a staggering .175 with two doubles and 2 RBI. Wow…it looks like the Cardinals offensive woes are over…or just beginning.

There have been a few bright spots this spring. It looks like Matt Holliday’s bat might not take until August to get going after he had a decent spring batting .345 with 2 HR. Allen Craig had a solid spring as well to the tune of a .389 average with 3 HR and 11RBI.

As if the offense wasn’t troubling enough, the Cards haven’t exactly looked great defensively either. They traded the glove of Brendan Ryan away for a bat in Theriot. Which already weakens our middle infield. Face facts, Skip Schumaker isn’t a great defensive second basemen. So the middle infield combination of Theriot-Schumaker could be troublesome.

I would be less inclined to worry about the infield defense if our outfield was stacked. If only that was the case. Sadly we have an outfield that leaves a lot to be desired defensively. We all know how inconsistent Colby Rasmus can be fielding. He has speed and range, but that arm is wild. If he can’t learn to control his arm he is utterly useless in the field. If you look in the corners you’ll see Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. I still can not believe they are really giving Berkman a shot in the outfield. It’s been six season since he’s played more than 35 games in the outfield. Take that and add it to the inconsistency of Colby Rasmus and the average defense you’re going to get out of Matt Holliday and you’ll see that the defensive problems go well beyond the middle infield.

Ryan Theriot committed 2 errors this spring. (Photo via stlcardinals.com)

We’ve covered offense and defense which leaves us to pitching.

By now you know that Adam Wainwright had Tommy John Surgery and will miss the season. You probably guessed that Kyle McClellan would be the 5th starter. But what you probably wouldn’t have guessed is that Jake Westbrook would be our #2. That’s right, Carpenter and Westbrook will be our 1-2 punch. The guy who pitched his way to a 4-4 record in 12 games with the redbirds last year and to a 1-2 record with an ERA of 4.44 is 24 innings this spring. He’s the guy we’ll depend on to give us what Wainwright has for the past few seasons.

As if the rotation wasn’t troubling enough, putting McClellan in the rotation weakens the bullpen. One of the better relief pitchers of the spring was Fernando Salas. He allowed just one run in 12 innings of work but wasn’t included on the 25-man roster because we need guys who can go multiple innings in the ‘pen to replace what McClellan would give in relief. So instead of Salas we’re bringing 40-year old Miguel Batista to Busch on opening day on Thursday.

Then there’s the closer spot. The inconsistency of Ryan Franklin has gotten old but for now he’s still “the man” with Jason Motte back in his set up role and expected to be the successor to Franklin when he hangs up his spikes. I’m not confident with either of them. Franklin, who I used to feel confident about just makes me nervous every time he comes into a game. Much like Jason Isringhausen did a few years ago. And Motte? I still think he needs to develop. He needs more than just a fastball. I know he wants to be a “fireballer” but that heat is only effective when you have other pitches to counterbalance it.

The bottom line is that this 25-man roster has holes and presents multiple questions. So many that I am concerned that we could struggle to finish 2nd in the division, but only time will tell.

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3 responses to “Cards Roster Leaves Room For Questions and Little Optimism.

  1. How about some optimism? Maybe state McClellan’s 0.78 ERA this spring, Lohse’s 1.88 ERA, as well as Augenstein and Batista pitching well. It’s sad that all you want to do is sit around and find the negatives in this team. I guess if you were the manager you’d just give up on the season today on opening day, huh?

    We’re lucky this city has a lot of LOYAL fans and not a bunch of debbie downers like yourself. If every Cardinals fan was so negative like you then the Franchise would not be where it is today. Can you imagine if all fans just sat around moping and writing about how negative the outlook on the season is? There’d probably be 7,000 fans at Busch for the games and the rest of the metro area sitting on their couches watching Seinfeld. Thankfully, we have fans that will come out to the ballpark and support the Cardinals whether they win 100 games or lose 100 games. It is people like these that have made this city “Baseball Heaven” and one of the most respected fan bases in all of sports.

    • John,
      Thanks for reading.

      I looked at the spring numbers for Lohse and McClellan. While they are very good and in McClellan’s case, outstanding. The fact is that they mean nothing. Just because you were good against guys in Florida, doesn’t mean those numbers would carry over to the regular season.

      Now, I’m not giving up on the team. I am just stating the fact that if you look at some of the names on the roster we do have some big questions that we have to answer. Can this club compete? Of course it can. Anything can happen. But it won’t be easy.

      Don’t talk about a “loyal” fan base though. Because I was there on Opening Day and by the seventh inning people were leaving “Baseball Heaven”. I can understand leaving a blowout early, but we’re talking about a one run ballgame on Opening Day. I love the fans, they are knowledgeable. But they might not be the best in baseball.

      Call me a pessimist if you want, I just try to take my “rah-rah lets go Cards” bias out of my writing and look at things from a realistic perspective.

  2. John,
    Thanks for reading.

    I looked at the spring numbers for Lohse and McClellan. While they are very good and in McClellan’s case, outstanding. The fact is that they mean nothing. Just because you were good against guys in Florida, doesn’t mean those numbers would carry over to the regular season.

    Now, I’m not giving up on the team. I am just stating the fact that if you look at some of the names on the roster we do have some big questions that we have to answer. Can this club compete? Of course it can. Anything can happen. But it won’t be easy.

    Don’t talk about a “loyal” fan base though. Because I was there on Opening Day and by the seventh inning people were leaving “Baseball Heaven”. I can understand leaving a blowout early, but we’re talking about a one run ballgame on Opening Day. I love the fans, they are knowledgeable. But they might not be the best in baseball.

    Call me a pessimist if you want, I just try to take my “rah-rah lets go Cards” bias out of my writing and look at things from a realistic perspective.

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