I looked at the calendar today and was amazed to discover that the regular season starts in less than two weeks! I’ve been really busy at work the last few weeks, so the time has flown. I’ve had a little time to reflect on what has happened to the Cardinals during spring training this year. Here are my thoughts:
Seung Hwan Oh. This has been one of Mo’s better off-season pickups. Not only does Oh have a surname worthy of many catchy tweets, but he is a wicked pitcher as well. He has only given up 1 hit and 1 run in spring training. He is well deserving of the nickname The Final Boss. Oh has asked Cards fans to think up a new nickname for him. I can only think of one – O-o-o-o-o-h Baby! I am looking forward to seeing him pitch in the regular season.
Brayan Peña. Peña is another one of Mo’s great off-season pickups. He will be a better than average back up for Yadi when he needs a day off, or if Yadi can’t start the regular season. Peña’s lively personality is contagious and will be a great addition to the team. He’s a fan favorite no matter what team he’s playing for, as you can see if you follow Peña on Twitter. If you haven’t yet read Peña’s story about how he defected from Cuba, check it out here.
Jedd Gyorko. The Cards needed a good backup infield player after Pete Kozma was released. Jon Jay was traded to the Padres for Gyorko, and this was a really good deal. The Cards had an overload of outfielders, so Jay was expendable. Gyorko can play a variety of infield positions, which came in handy after Jhonny Peralta got hurt (see below).
Matt Holliday at first base. I admit to being skeptical about this at first (pun intended). Holliday has been patrolling left field for years now. But it’s not like it hasn’t been done before. As Mark Tomasik wrote about last week on his Retrosimba blog, none other than Stan the Man himself was converted from an outfielder to a first baseman. And don’t forget about Albert Pujols’ conversion from left field to first base. Brandon Moss and Matt Adams are still battling for the first base position, so any time that Holliday would be playing at first would probably be minimal. However, playing first would be a great way for Holliday to extend his career – that is, unless and until the DH finally comes to the National League.
The spring training standings. The Cards have lost the last 8 spring training games in a row. There are three ways to look at spring training standings: 1. These games don’t count anyway, so I’m not worried about it; 2. The team is not playing well during spring training, and that will carry over to the regular season; or 3. The team is playing really well and that bodes well for the regular season. I am starting to get a little concerned about the spring training standings. It’s pretty sad that a bracket-type contest to determine the best Cardinals blogger Twitter account is getting more attention than the Cards’ spring training season itself.
The offense. Second verse, same as the first. The Cards appear to be in the same offensive funk that ended their playoff run last season. One wonders how long it will take before someone figures out that John Mabry is the reason for the team’s offense problems. This is Baseball 101 – you can’t win games unless you score runs. Mike Matheny has stated that he wants to see more stolen bases this year and more aggressiveness on the base paths. Gee, that sounds familiar – oh wait, that’s Whiteyball. Home runs are nice, but I enjoy watching small ball as well.
Jhonny Peralta. It always seems like the Cards have at least one player get injured during spring training, and this year is no exception. On March 5 in a game against the Marlins, Peralta injured his thumb while fielding a ball. It’s the same injury that Yadi had with his thumb. Hopefully, Jhonny won’t have to have 2 surgeries like Yadi had. Jhonny’s injury led to Mo signing Ruben Tejada, recently released by the Mets, to compete for the shortstop position.
The Cards didn’t have a game scheduled for today, and they have no more days off for the rest of spring training. Hopefully, the team will start winning and get the momentum they need to start the regular season on a good note.
Thanks for reading! See you next time!