(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.
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.
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.