Worse. Game. Ever. (that I’ve seen in person)

angryLast night’s Cards-Reds game was the most horrible game I have ever seen in person. The Cards lost to the Reds 15-2.  In my last blog post, I compared the bad Cardinals to a beer league softball team, and sure enough, that’s the team that showed up to play last night.  When I played co-ed softball, there was a 10 run mercy rule (the game ends after a team scores 10 runs), but unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to baseball.  If it did, the game would have been over after the fourth inning.

My last blog post pleaded for Good Jaime to show up last night. Bad Jaime showed up instead.  He only lasted one inning. The experiment to move Jaime back into the starting rotation failed miserably. I’m pretty sure that last night was the last time we’ll ever see Jaime pitching in a Cardinals uniform.

Michael Wacha relieved Jaime in the second inning, but he wasn’t much better.  The next relief pitcher was Luke Weaver.  After Luke, Dean Kiekhefer came in to pitch. Hazelbaker, a position player, was the last pitcher of the game. We left the game after the sixth inning.  We just couldn’t take any more misery.

Yadi had a bad night too; he couldn’t throw out anyone trying to steal.  The Cards did score a couple of runs, so at least it wasn’t a shutout.  The highlight of the game was a Stephen Piscotty triple.

I always buy a scorecard and keep score when I go to a game, but last night, I stopped keeping score after the fourth inning.  The Reds’ lineup batted 1 ½ times in the fourth inning, and there’s no room on a scorecard to score a second run through the lineup (if there is a way, someone please let me know how), so I just gave up keeping score all together.

My friend noticed how empty the stadium was last night even before the game.  There was less than 40,000 attendees for the first time since 2013.  The left upper deck was completely empty.  In fact, the fans booed several times last night, and I’m ashamed to say I was one of them.  I never thought that I would ever boo my beloved Cardinals, but last night I did.  It appears the fans are getting tired of crappy baseball.  I’m glad that I didn’t pay for my tickets to last night’s game; I would have been really angry if I had paid good money for that lousy outcome. It’s a shame that the last game I got to see at Busch Stadium this season was such a debacle.  I missed going to Bible study for this?  I would have gotten more out of Bible study that that game.

After last night’s loss, the Cards are 1 game back of the Giants for the second wild card spot.  It’s still possible for the Cards to get to the wild card game, but even if by some stroke of luck they did, I really don’t think they’d win the game.  I think the guys have finally run out of steam, and Yadi especially.  Carson Kelly should have been called up earlier to give Yadi some days off, and Mike Matheny should have insisted that Yadi take more time off.  Brayan Pena was supposed to be Yadi’s backup, but he got injured.  Either the guys are totally exhausted, or there are some issues going on in the clubhouse that we are not yet privy to.  It appears they have checked out for the season.

I think it’s time for us Cards fans to start mentally checking out of this season too.  I predicted back in May that this wasn’t our year, and I was right. After the season is over, there will be some housecleaning occurring.  I think there will be some players gone next season, and maybe some coaches and perhaps a manager too.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!

Diane

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The perfect lineup (with 1 subtraction)

My fellow Cardinals bloggers and I complain on Twitter night after night Scan0004about manager Mike Matheny’s constant lineup changes.  The lineup is never the same from one night to the next.  Even the casual fan can see the lack of results that this constant changing produces.  But last night, it appeared that Mike spun the wheels on the lineup machine and finally hit the right jackpot.  Here was the lineup for last night’s game:

Carpenter 1B

Gyorko 2B

Moss LF

Piscotty RF

Molina C

Peralta 3B

Grichuk CF

G. Garcia SS

Martinez P

And lo and behold, Mike is using this same lineup in tonight’s game as well, with Waino pitching.  See how easy that was?   Carpenter celebrated being back in the leadoff spot last night by hitting a home run.  Stephen Piscotty and Randall Grichuk hit home runs too, and the Cardinals beat the Mets 8-1.  It was a fun game and even though I was at Bible study, I stealthily looked at my AtBat app to see how the game was going.  Yadi getting caught trying to steal third, however – no, Yadi, don’t do that anymore, or I will have to tweet at your brother Bengie to get on you about that.

I think this lineup should be on the field every night for the rest of the season, and even into the playoffs, if these Cards should get that far.  The only subtraction that I would make is when Aledmys Diaz returns from the disabled list, he would go in Garcia’s spot, and of course, the pitcher varies every game.

Garcia, Matt Adams, and Kolten Wong could come off the bench to pinch hit or spell one of the regular infielders if they need a night off or get hurt (God forbid – the disabled list has been overcrowded this season).  Matt Holliday and Jeremy Hazelbaker could do the same for the outfielders.  Tommy Pham – the jury’s still out on him.

A couple of random thoughts: Could Jaime Garcia just be released now instead of the end of the season when his option is up?  It’s bad enough that you don’t know whether you’re going to get Good Jaime or Bad Jaime when it’s his turn in the rotation.  Lately, however, only Bad Jaime has shown up to pitch.  Alex Reyes has shown that he’s more than ready to be a starter in the show.  Maybe I’m being selfish, but since my son and I will be going to the game on Sunday (which is Jaime’s next start), it would be really great to see Alex’s debut as a starter.

And why, with the exception of Martinez, are our pitchers not ready to pitch in the first inning?  It never fails that the other team starts scoring in the first inning.  The Cards have to start playing catch up already in the bottom of the first.  Are the pitchers not getting enough throwing time before the games?  Or are they getting too much throwing time?  Could the pitchers not be mentally ready to go in the first inning? That appears to be something that Derek Lilliquist needs to work on with them. This problem needs to be solved ASAP.

On Saturday, August 27,  Chris Carpenter, Joe Torre, Sam Breadon and Terry Moore will be inducted in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  The ceremony starts at 2 PM at Fox Sports Midwest Live in Ballpark Village.  The doors open at 11 AM, so get there early to wait in line. Last year, my son and I didn’t get there until 12 noon and we had to share a table with some other folks. I told him we needed to get there earlier.  One of these days, he’ll learn to listen to me.  However, if you can’t make it, Fox Sports Midwest will show the ceremony on Sunday, August 28 at 11:30 a.m.  If you’re at the ceremony, find me and say hi – I always love to meet folks who read my blog.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Diane

Trade deadline thoughts

DeadlineSorry I haven’t posted more.  It’s really discouraging watching the Cards play.  I’m a glass-half-filled kind of gal, so it’s hard to find something to write about when your team is playing badly.  One can only complain so much before it gets tiresome, and I love my loyal readers too much to subject them to too much negativity.

As you probably know, the trade deadline is August 1 (since July 31st is a Sunday), which is exciting yet scary at the same time. So are the Cards are sellers or buyers at the trade deadline?  Despite playing badly, the Cards are currently in line for the second wild card slot and are also in second place in the N.L. Central.  A Cubs collapse/Cards surge could mean another division title.  A key acquisition or two could make all the difference to get to the playoffs.

So if the Cards are buyers, what do they have to offer in a trade?  The Cards have an option on Jaime Garcia.  When Jaime starts, you never know if you’re going to get Good Jaime or Bad Jaime.  When Jaime is good, he’s very, very good, but when Jaime is bad, he’s awful.  Jaime should be some other team’s problem.

Kolten Wong is another player who may be better off with a change of venue.  There is a lot of pressure here for him to succeed, and Kolten appears to not handle pressure well.  The only negative about trading Kolten is the 5 year contract he signed earlier this year. It was meant to give Kolten a vote of confidence, but it doesn’t appear to have worked out that way. If Kolten is traded, the Cards may have to eat some of Kolten’s contract for the deal to work. Jedd Gyorko and/or Greg Garcia can take Kolten’s place at second, or there is another alternative, which I’ll discuss below.

Matt Adams’ shortcoming is that he only plays one position.  He would be a great DH for an American League team.  If the Cards could trade Adams to an AL team for a good player, I would be all over that trade.  Brandon Moss could move to left field and Matt Holliday could play first, which could possibly extend his career beyond this season.

The Cards do not need two center fielders.  If you melded Randall Grichuk and Tommy Pham into one person, you’d likely have a great center fielder.  However, since we can’t, one of these guys needs to leave, and I think it should be Tommy Pham.  Tommy is older and is injury prone.  If you need a second outfielder in case of injury, Stephen Piscotty can play center and Jeremy Hazelbaker can play right field.  There are a lot of fans who would like to see Carlos Gonzales patrol right field (and Piscotty would then become the CF), but he would probably bring a very high price tag.

One player whose name has been bandied about as trade bait is prospect Alex Reyes. I really don’t think the team should give him up.  A team should not give up an exciting prospect pitcher  The Cards should, however, call Reyes up in September when rosters expand to gear up for the playoffs, and get him some major league experience.

So what do the Cardinals need in order to get to the playoffs?  They need a good set-up pitcher.  Jerome Williams, who the Cards recently brought up from Memphis, is not the answer.

I have heard that Aledmys Diaz’ natural position is second base, so if Wong is traded, Diaz could move to second. Not all of Diaz’ errant throws can be blamed on rookie mistakes, perhaps. Peralta could then go back to shortstop, or a good shortstop could be acquired.  This could also help with the defense problems in the Cards’ infield.

The Cards could also use Mother Nature to cooperate and not force rain outs. Today’s doubleheader is the second in two weeks. Last week’s doubleheader was a day-night double, which gives the players a break between games; however, today’s doubleheader is a true doubleheader. The doubleheaders and game delays wreak havoc with a pitching rotation.  Calling Mike Mayers up from the minors as a fill-in ended up as a major humiliation in front of a national audience.  I sure hope he can recover from it.

That’s all for now! Thanks as always for reading and I’ll see you next time!

Diane

Not our year

Sad baseballI have watched the Cardinals play this season, and I have come to the conclusion that this year is not our year.  I know what you’re thinking.  Diane, the 2011 Cardinals were 11 ½ games out and they managed to get into the playoffs and win the World Series.  But that was a different manager and a different team.  There are only 6 players from that 2011 team on the 2016 team – Adams, Holliday, Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and Molina. Molina is playing well.  Wainwright is starting to return to form, but Adams is only now starting to hit better and Holliday is showing his age.  It’s hard to tell what Jaime Garcia you’re going to get when he starts – Good Jaime or Bad Jaime.  And Lance Lynn is on the DL for the year after Tommy John surgery.  Also, the only coaches left from that 2011 team are Derek Liliquist and Jose Oquendo.

The Cards are playing this year like teams who never make the playoffs; for example, the Phillies.  The Cubs are in first in the NL Central and they’re playing like a team who wants to win. As a Cards fan, I hate to admit it, but this could finally be the Cubs’ year.

Let’s look at an overview of the Cards’ performance this season.  Lowlights – there are many.  Ruben Tejada pitching in relief may have been when the season jumped the shark. Rosenthal is experimenting with pitches while he’s trying to save a game, like at the game I was at last Saturday.  Matt Holliday’s batting average has been sinking like a rock (although he did hit a home run today), and Mike Matheny refuses to move him from the third spot in the batting order.  Jhonny Peralta’s thumb injury put a major monkey wrench in the season, but hopefully, he will be back soon.  Jose Oquendo  has really been missed in the third base box and his absence has contributed to some terrible baserunning errors.  Michael Wacha’s mechanics are seriously messed up.  He should be sent to the minor leagues for some work. Carlos Martinez started the season strong, but he has not pitched well at all in his last few starts.  And how is it that Kolten Wong can make spectacular plays seem routine but mess up routine plays?

Highlights – there are a few.  Aledmys Diaz has impressed with his bat, but he is still making rookie mistakes with his glove.  Molina’s batting average is much better this year. Stephen Piscotty has been a shining star, making us forget Jason Heyward.   Seung Hwan Oh was John Mozeliak’s best off-season pick up.  He has been lights out in relief. Unfortunately, Oh showed he really was human in today’s game when he gave up three runs and a home run. Perhaps Oh should be the closer instead of Rosenthal?

This has not been my year either.  The presidential candidate I backed dropped out of the race, and I was passed over for a job I really wanted and was recommended for, along with some other personal things going on in my life that it’s not necessary to talk about here.  Cardinals baseball is a great distraction when things go south in my personal life, but this year, the Cards are not playing well so I don’t even have that.  Can we just turn back the calendar to January 1, 2016 and have a do-over?

Cards fans have seen their team go to the playoffs for the last few years and we are spoiled.  We’ve forgotten how to handle it when our team is bad.  So if you have the opportunity to attend a Cards game this season, go to have fun hanging out with your friends and/or family.  Just don’t expect to see winning baseball.  If the Cards do win, that’s a plus.

I realize that it’s almost the end of May and there still may be time to rescue the sinking S.S. Cardinals ship.  If the Cards can resurrect this season and make the playoffs, I’ll be happy to eat my words.  Just write them in icing on a large chocolate chip cookie, please.

That’s all for now!  Hopefully, I will have a more upbeat blog post next time.  See you then!

Diane

Decisions, decisions

Some decisions are hard.  What do I want to do for a living?  What college should I attend?  Who should I marry?  Should we have kids?  Those are life-changing decisions.

Mike Matheny’s decision as to which Cardinals pitcher will be fifth in the rotation this season, while not as hard as the above-listed decisions, is still a difficult one to make.  There are three pitchers who are equally deserving of the fifth slot, and all three have pitched well in spring training.  Let’s take a look at each pitcher.

Jaime Garcia has been a Cardinal for a few seasons now, although he was on the disabled list last year and the year before. When he was able to pitch in seasons past, during one start, he would be lights out, and in his next start, he would just be goofy. Inconsistency, thy name is Jaime Garcia.  However, Jaime came to camp this year with a gutsy determination to earn the fifth spot in the rotation.  He said he could pitch and so far, he’s proven that he was right. In today’s game, he struck out 7 over 4 innings.  In his last 2 starts, he struck out 12 batters.  He has a 3.86 ERA.

Carlos Martinez pitched for the Cardinals in a variety of roles last season – starter, short relief and long relief.  He desperately wants to be a starting pitcher.  The death of Oscar Martinez, Carlos’ best friend, has given Carlos a determination to pitch well to honor his friend’s memory.  Carlos will just have to look at his uniform number to find the inspiration he needs.  So far this spring, Carlos has a 1-0 record with a .6.75 ERA.  Like Jaime, Carlos has experience pitching at the major league level.

Marco Gonzales is the hot-shot rookie who wants to prove he belongs with the big club.  Last year in the minors, Marco had a 9-5 record with a 2.43 ERA. Gonzalez has a 3-0 record in spring training, with a miniscule .084 ERA..  During Tuesday’s game, Gonzales went 4 innings and threw 41 strikes. He is the only Cardinals pitcher to go 4 innings in a start so far this spring.

I don’t envy Mike the decision he has to make.  However, if it were me, this is what I would do.  I would tell Garcia that the rotation spot is his to lose.  The Cards have too much money tied up in him to release him without giving him a shot at the fifth spot.  However, I would tell him that should he get injured or falter, there are two other pitchers waiting in the wings (pardon the pun) to take the spot.  I would keep Martinez on the roster to use as a reliever and for a spot start if necessary.  I would send Gonzales back down to AAA for one more season.   He would be the first pitcher that I would call up if there were injuries to any pitchers. This is just my opinion, however, and it will probably not coincide with what Mike decides.

Spring training will be over in 2 weeks and regular season baseball  will be back in a little over two weeks! I can’t wait – can you?  That’s all for now – thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!

Diane

UCB Roundtable Question #1

UCB_11The United Cardinal Bloggers’ project for February is the preseason roundtable.  There will be 10 questions for this month’s roundtable.  As you may recall from past roundtable posts, a blogger asks a question and the other bloggers who want to participate answer the question.  The answers will be compiled by the person who asked the question into a blog post.   Dan Buffa was originally supposed to ask the question yesterday, but he decided he just wanted to answer questions instead.  So being the nice person that I am, I offered to fill in for him.  Sometimes I don’t mind going first!

So here was my question:
Happy Presidents’ Day! And more importantly, it’s Roundtable Opening Day, which is a sure sign that baseball is right around the corner!  Here’s the first roundtable question for 2015:

This is a 4 part question regarding the riddle that is Jaime Garcia:

1.  Will Jaime be healthy at the start of spring training?
2.  If Jaime shows up healthy at the start of spring training, will he stay healthy during spring training?
3.  If your answer to #2 is “yes,” will Jamie make the starting rotation, and if so, at which position?
4.  If your answer to either question is “no,” what do you think the Cards will do with Jaime?  Do they release him?  If so, who gets his rotation spot?

I’m looking forward to reading your answers.  If you’re where it’s snowing, stay safe!

Diane

And here are the answers:

Mark Tomasik, www.retrosimba.com

Jaime Garcia’s track record indicates it is unlikely he has the ability to be a dependable member of the Cardinals’ staff.

I believe the Cardinals will try to showcase him during spring training, hyping every successful workout and appearance as evidence he has recovered, then trade him to a team desperate for pitching. The Cardinals will agree to pay most of his salary and will seek in a return a prospect. The Astros or Rangers could be landing spots for Jaime.
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Tom, CardinalsGM:

I look for Garcia to begin the season in the rotation or at least he stays in extended Spring Training. However, he envision him not making it through the season without significant injury.

Honestly, I believe he has little in the tank but hope to be wrong.

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Bill Ivie, I-70 Baseball:

Ah, Jaime…

 Yes, he will be “healthy” when camp opens and likely throughout, giving everyone hope that he will join the rotation and be the Jaime we all know he could have been.
But the team won’t rely on that.
A healthy spring will lead to extended spring training. From there, a rehab assignment in the minors. If someone at the big club goes down, he may get a call up. Ultimately, he’ll see as much action as his arm can handle without being on the big league club to try and entice some other team to give a bag of balls and maybe a few bobble heads in exchange for his service.
I’m not sure they release him before the trade deadline. Once the deadline passes, he may find himself on the open market. I fully believe he gets traded…if he actually stays healthy.

Thanks,
Bill Ivie

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Eugene Tierney, 85% Sports:
1.  Possibly; based on the reports, Jaime is ready to pitch. We’ve seen in the past that reports on members of the Cardinals health are sometimes inaccurate. It’ll be one of those things where we’ll have to wait a week to truly see.
2.  It’s possible that he could make it through spring training healthy. He’ll be watched very closely and have limitations early on, which will allow him to last a little longer than in the season.
3.  With all of the injury issues he’s had, I see him competing for a rotation spot but ending up in extended spring training. They’ll try to trade him off, but many teams won’t be interested in an expensive question mark. They probably end up releasing him. He’s not better than what they already have and is not fun watching a guy and wondering when his arm will fall off.

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Daniel Shoptaw, Cardinals Conclave:

Tara and I talked a bit about this last night on Gateway To Baseball Heaven.

What struck me was a Tweet from Jim Hayes (I believe) about how the club has recently gone from surprised at Garcia’s progress to really believing he can contribute.  Now, that could be build up for trade talk (something that I’ll admit didn’t come to mind last night), but I think save that there’s little reason to promote a healthy Garcia.  It’s not like they don’t have many other valuable options.  It’s not that they don’t have a preferred solution in Carlos Martinez.  There’s no reason to even bring up Garcia in people’s minds.

If he is healthy and if he is still with the club at the end of the spring, he will be in the rotation.  $9.5 million reasons for that.  And having a quality lefty in the rotation would be an advantage for the Cards.  Like Bill said, though, you can’t rely on that and Martinez and Marco Gonzales will be right there ready to step in if necessary.

A trade does seem likely, though I don’t know that the Cards will want to give him away.  The Garcia situation might be the most interesting thing in camp this spring.

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Doug Vollet, Baseball Geek in Galveston:

Color me skeptical. I realize we’re on the hook for 9.5 Million, but that doesn’t mean he should be an automatic starter if he’s healthy. I’d make him a swing man this season, then if he stays healthy, move him full time into the rotation next year.

 Yes, 9.5 million is expensive for a swing man, but I believe in taking precautions. If you rush him back and he gets injured again, he’s useless. build him up this season, and if he’s still healthy at the end of it, exercise the option and put him into the rotation next year. If he’s injured by the end of the season, buy him out and say sayonara.

Daniel replied:

I could see that, but I’m not sure Garcia works well as a swing man.  It would seem (again, this is all supposition) that the best chance of keeping him healthy is keeping him on that regular work schedule of days off, days to throw, etc.  If you are warming him up at irregular times and putting him in the life of a swing man, my gut feeling is he’s more likely to get hurt that way.  I don’t know that–if not, I could see the advantage of him in that position, though we have a lot of lefties in the pen already (and a guy like Tyler Lyons who can do the swing thing as well).

Matt Whitener replied:

The rigors of being a reliever, and the unstable nature of preparing for that role physically, do not fit the goals the team seems to have laid out for Garcia. Frankly, Mozeliak does not speak of that as an option that he is interested in and Matheny does not mention him as a part of the left-handed options ini the bullpen. It is either start or sit for Garcia this year. But the team is pleasantly surprised by his progress, so it is very likely that they will give him a chance to prove what he can do in the rotation at some point in the year after off days become more scarce.

Doug replied:

Well it’s just my opinion. I tend to think outside of the box, and try to find the best fit, regardless of the players’ past. For example, Jon Jay had a good year last year, but I still think Bourjos should be starting, due to the amount of fly balls he and Heyward would suck up.

Matt replied:

Same here. I just tend to think that when its a margin between a health history (and a restrictive one at that) and performance preference, the rules and options have to be different.

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Matt Whitener, Cheap Seats Please:

1.  Will Jaime be healthy at the start of spring training?
Last month at the Winter Warm-Up Mo expressed that he did not anticipate Jaime being ready to go by opening day, but rather to be a mid-season addition in the May/June range. With that said, I believe Jaime’s health will be under evaluation at the start of the spring. I do not expect to see much off of the mound from him, and especially not in the exhibition games. Caution is by and far the top priority for the club regarding him, and I think his training will be under evaluation until after the 25-man is set.

2.  If Jaime shows up healthy at the start of spring training, will he stay healthy during spring training?
That is the biggest question mark for Jaime; remaining healthy. He has proven before he can rehab, but he has not proven that he can maintain it. With the information presented right now, I don’t think that anybody can make a truly accurate assessment of it, but the history is not on his side.

3.  If your answer to #2 is “yes,” will Jamie make the starting rotation, and if so, at which position?

I do not believe that his health will factor into the Opening Day picture, but I also do not think he will be utilized in any other capacity except for as a starter when he is deemed healthy.

4.  If your answer to either question is “no,” what do you think the Cards will do with Jaime?  Do they release him?  If so, who gets his rotation spot?

The team will not release him, if for any other reason he provides depth for the rotation. And proven depth at that. If the expectation is for him to be a bonus or surplus throughout the year, there is no need to release him because the expectation is not for 30 starts, but probably whatever they can get from him.

The rotation spot scenario out of the gate is between Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales, and I do not anticipate that changing. However, the team does intend to be careful with both of those options innings over the full course of the year and considering the fact that everyone with the exception of Lance Lynn and John Lackey are already entering the season with injury flags, having Jaime in the fold as one of the 8 or 9 options to start a game at some point in the season keeps him with value to the team.

Also, he is in the last guaranteed year of his contract, so getting some final usage out of him (considering the fact they have to pay him regardless) is the prudent way to go about it.

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Dan Buffa, Cardinals Farm:

Greetings from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Here, if it drops a half inch of ice, the whole town shuts down so here I am. All I can do now is drink coffee and talk baseball. (There’s a lot worse things we could be doing. – DMS)

1.  Will Jaime be healthy at the start of spring training?
Yes. Garcia had extensive nerve procedures done on his shoulder. There isn’t a real guarantee a pitcher comes back from that the same. However,  he has reported zero ill effects to his superiors but they and we all know what to expect when that news hits our ears. Skepticism.  Mo is probably pushing back the timetable to the media in order to paint a realistic gauge for his troublesome lefthander and also to maintain skeptical about the man’s future. My belief is that Jaime is entering spring training as healthy as possible and will be treated like a rotation spot is within his reach.

2.  If Jaime shows up healthy at the start of spring training, will he stay healthy during spring training?
Yes. At this point, 45 shoulder injuries(I kid) and counting, the Cards must keep in mind, as they do with other starters, that a certain care and protection is needed. Pop the hood, check the plugs and oil, and let them roll in April. Now, Garcia is coming back from something more serious than an offseason cleanup, so maybe he gets treated a little differently. However, in keeping with the framework of the question, if Garcia shows up healthy(yes), he leaves spring training healthy.

3.  If your answer to #2 is “yes,” will Jamie make the starting rotation, and if so, at which position?
This is a sad but true topic. If he makes it through spring training ready to go, why would he start in extended spring training?

If he is not deemed hurt yet needs a few extra starts to ensure the shoulder is ready, he takes a short trip to Memphis.  If Jaime is healthy, he is in the rotation. I’ve been an advocate for Carlos Martinez since Thanksgiving, but the fact is Garcia is making 9.5 million this season and has proven in the past to be quite an asset when healthy. To borrow a terribly overused cliche, he could be the poor man’s Cole Hamels. The Cards would be stupid to not use him if he is ready to go because:

a. Let him pitch, and see what he can do. How long can he stay healthy?
b. Let him drive up his trade value so other teams will be reaching for his services come July because the Cards, media and fans know there is no future for him in The Lou.
c. Jaime in the bullpen isn’t something I want to see unless Derek Liliquist invented a mood detector device for certain “mentally fragile” players.

If healthy, Jaime needs to pitch on the St. Louis Cardinals in the rotation in the 5th spot. Plain and simple.

4.  If your answer to either question is “no,” what do you think the Cards will do with Jaime?  Do they release him?  If so, who gets his rotation spot?
While neither of my answers were no, I will play the devil’s advocate hypothetical game and answer this.

If Jaime doesn’t leave spring training healthy, they will not release him. They simply can’t afford to, with the fragility of the staff. Waino and Wacha have warning labels on their arms and Lackey’s arm is stout yet old so he deserves an eye. Jaime won’t be released. The Cards must keep him in extended spring to get healthy or send him to Memphis to regroup. They can’t cut the chord in March. If he can’t start the season in the rotation, Carlos Martinez takes that spot.

I agree with Daniel Shoptaw. Jaime is going to be the most interesting player in camp this spring.

Thanks for asking,

Dan Buffa

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Ben Chambers, The View From Here:

I think Jaime will be healthy, although I think once the team heads north, he’ll be kept at extended spring, sent to a rehab assignment, or both. The main reason that I think there’s no way that he makes the starting day rotation is all the talk about Carlos Martinez. They have been saying all winter that Martinez is pretty much the guy. If he takes the last spot, then there’s no room for Garcia.

That said, once he proves he’s healthy, you have to either trade him or give him a spot in the rotation. He’s not going to do well in a swing role and that may be harder on him. You can’t keep him in AAA because when he is healthy and right, he’s pretty good. There is a chance that someone goes down with an injury and that prompts him to move into the rotation, like when Kelly got hurt early last year.

I still think that the most likely option is that he gets traded early, or at least by July.

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Tara Wellman, Bird Tales

This is the kind of question that will likely see very similar answers, meaning we’ll all seem brilliant or foolish by the end of Jaime Garcia’s 2015 season (whenever that may be…)! But, let me grab my Mozeliak-inspired GM specs and scarf (hey, it’s cold and I don’t look good in a bowtie.) and give it a go.

1.  Will Jaime be healthy at the start of spring training?
Here’s the thing with that — everyone is “healthy” when camp starts. Everyone “feels good” and is “ready to go.” The organizational outlook is eternally optimistic this time of year, as proven by the recent uptick in positivity concerning Jaime Garcia’s preparedness. But, let’s be real — he has a track record that doesn’t lend itself to an easy buy-in on what he’ll bring to the table.  Now, I’m not questioning the reliability of reports that say he is, in fact, healthy. I fully believe that he feels as strong as he thinks he should at the moment. But, I also remember how great Chris Carpenter felt the spring after his own bout with similar nerve issues, and how strong Garcia felt between surgeries in the past. Until Jaime ramps up his baseball activity levels enough to really test the multitude of recurring arm issues, the definition of “healthy” is relative.

2.  If Jaime shows up healthy at the start of spring training, will he stay healthy during spring training?
How the Cardinals attempt to bring Garcia along this spring will impact the answer to this question. Based on Jaime’s history, they will likely try to move him along slowly in order to get a clearer picture of how the nerve issue (among other things) will react to normal training. An easier pace and lessened strain should get him through the spring. If they push it, though, to see how “healthy” he really is, there’s a good chance he ends up missing a spring start or two, and possibly even shutting it down all together, a la Carpenter. My best guess, though? Yes. He makes it through Spring Training, much to the chagrin of Carlos Martinez.

3.  If your answer to #2 is “yes,” will Jamie make the starting rotation, and if so, at which position?
The truth of the matter is, everything hinges on how quickly he can be game-ready without pushing so hard that he breaks again. (And that is my fundamental problem with Garcia … but that’s a conversation for another day!) Just because he makes it through spring training without a relapse doesn’t mean he’ll have shaken off all the rust. It’s been a long time since he pitched in a big league game. There’s a chance he has to be so careful in how he trains that he won’t be ready when the Birds break camp. Then, there’s Martinez. Without a doubt, he’s been groomed as the guy to beat for anyone dreaming of joining Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn and John Lackey in the rotation. In fact, Martinez and Garcia haven’t been spoken of in the same breath all winter. If Jaime is still rusty (or simply a couple weeks behind the others) and Martinez is ready to rock and roll, I’d prefer to see Carlos get the 5th spot. I don’t think Mo wants to let Garcia go, but I also don’t believe he’s anxious to jump back on that horse without full confidence that his $9.5 million man is up for the challenge. So, while a 100% Garcia is undoubtedly an asset to the Cardinals’ 2015 rotation, I am not yet convinced that a 100% Garcia is a realistic option right out of Jupiter.

4.  If your answer to either question is “no,” what do you think the Cards will do with Jaime?  Do they release him?  If so, who gets his rotation spot?
This is the (nine) million dollar question, isn’t it? What do you do with an injury-prone, potential superstar if you don’t have confidence in his ability to contribute for more than a handful of starts? He’s not a AAA guy. He’s not a bullpen guy. He needs a perfectly bubble-wrapped scenario in order to succeed. Martinez, again, is the guy who will get the spot. Marco Gonzales provides a solid backup option as a #5 guy, and there are others in Memphis who could fill in here and there. If he’s healthy enough to draw interest from potential suitors, I’d say it’s worth hearing them out. But, with 2-3 current starters facing their own sets of question marks, it would be hard to let him go in case he became a necessary asset. So, what do they do?

*takes off GM dress-up clothes*

Sorry, Mo. This one’s all yours.
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Daniel Solzman, RedbirdRants.com

1.  Will Jaime be healthy at the start of spring training?

I would like to think that Jaime Garcia will be healthy at the start of spring training.  But to be honest, after what happened with Rafael Furcal during the 2012-13 offseason, you can understand my pessimism on the matter.

2.  If Jaime shows up healthy at the start of spring training, will he stay healthy during spring training?
We can only hope that he stays healthy.

3.  If your answer to #2 is “yes,” will Jamie make the starting rotation, and if so, at which position?
This is the hard part.  The way things look now, there are four locks for the rotation: Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, John Lackey, and Michael Wacha–that is assuming Wacha is completely healthy entering this year.  The final spot, in my mind, is between Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales.  I’m not fully convinced on Carlos as a starter quite yet.  Yes, he has a high
ceiling but his Minor League numbers just haven’t translated at the Major League level.  Will Yadier Molina’s locker being next to his during Spring Training lead to a change in this?  I hope so.

The Cardinals are paying Garcia nearly $10 million this season.  He may be a long reliever out of the bullpen but I just don’t envision him making another start for St. Louis unless it’s a spot start.

4.  If your answer to either question is “no,” what do you think the Cards will do with Jaime?  Do they release him?  If so, who gets his rotation spot?

(Daniel didn’t give me an answer to #4, although I suspect the answer is contained in his answer to #3).

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Thanks to my fellow United Cardinals Bloggers for answering my question!  You can go to their blogs by clicking the links after their names. Who knows – you might find some more Cardinals blogs to enjoy!  If you want to see the other roundtable questions after those posts are completed, bookmark United Cardinal Bloggers.

Only 2 days until pitchers and catchers report, which means baseball is right around the corner!  I do feel sorry for those poor folks on the East Coast.  I’m sure they were ready for baseball three weeks ago.

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!

Diane