With Spring Training halfway over, and the Cardinals playing to an 11-4 record (with a few ties), I thought now would be a perfect time to look at where the 25 man roster sits. The Cardinals typically will take a few extra players with them when they go through Memphis and Springfield, MO after spring training but before the regular season. However once the Cubs come to town, they will need to pare down their roster to 25 guys. Yesterday they reassigned 11 players to different minor league levels, so this process has already begun.
Here is my take on the Opening Day 25!
Catchers(2): Yadier Molina, Eric Fryer — No real surprises here. Carson Kelly may or may not need more time in the minors, however the Cardinals aren’t going to have Kelly sit on the bench in St. Louis when he could play everyday in Memphis.
Infielders(7): Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Aledmys Diaz, Jhonny Peralta, Matt Adams, Greg Garcia, Jedd Gyorko — Barring injuries this will be the infield group. The first 4 guys are starters while the last 3 will fill off of the bench or in pinch hit roles.
Outfielders(4): Stephen Piscotty, Dexter Fowler, Randal Grichuk, Jose Martinez — The 3 starters are no surprise but the 4th outfielder/1B Martinez has emerged as the last position player to make the team. Jose Martinez leads or is tied for the lead in the following areas for spring — Hits, Runs, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SLG, OPS.
Starting Pitchers(5): Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Mike Leake, Michael Wacha — While this may be a surprise to some, I’m not surprised by Wacha being the 5th starter. The second Alex Reyes went down, Wacha became the favorite to be the 5th and final starter. Over 4 spring starts he has pitched 13 innings while striking out 11 to an ERA of 1.38. It remains to be seen if Wacha’s shoulder will hold up over the long season, but right now he looks as good as anyone.
Bullpen(7): Seung Hwan Oh, Kevin Siegrist, Brett Cecil, Jonathan Broxton, Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Bowman, Miguel Socolovich — What about John Gant??? The best best Gant since Ron – who is the second best #5 (Stan Royer anyone) in Cardinal’s history has been outstanding this spring. He has thrown 8 innings over 4 appearances (2 starts) to a 1.13 ERA and an incredible WHIP(Walks + Hits per Innings Pitched) of .38. The reason he doesn’t start in St. Louis is because the Cardinals need a guy to be ready in Memphis as the 5th starter. Tyler Lyons, Marco Gonzales, and Luke Weaver are either injured or haven’t shown much this spring. If Trevor Rosenthal can show he’s able to get over his lat muscle, his spot on the team isn’t in jeopardy. The Cardinals intended to stretch Rosenthal out as a starter but his injury has hindered their ability to do this. In the next two weeks if he shows he can get his pitch count up to a number where he could go 2 innings – he’ll be their “semi longman”. Miguel Socolovich makes the roster based off of a strong spring of 6 innings with a 1.50 ERA and a WHIP of just .33. He also is out of options, so he can’t be sent down to Memphis without all the other teams having a chance at claiming him. Someone would surely claim Socolovich. Matt Bowman should also make the team. While Bowman has options after being a Rule V player last year, he has pitched in 5 games this spring without allowing a run. Bowman was invaluable last year as the “New Seth Maness”, and should be part of the bullpen to start the season.
While it seems the roster is basically locked up, there is no predicting an injury or trade that General Manager John Mozeliak could make. I know Adams was valuable as a pinch hitter last year going 12 for 37 (.324 BA) along with 3 bombs. I could see Mo making him available in a trade, however his market isn’t very high and the upside of Adams outweighs his trade market. The last spot(s) in the bullpen seems to be something that could change – however I’m more sure on Socolovich making the team (no options) over Bowman or Gant (options). It will be interesting to see how playing time gets shared once Carpenter is fully healthy, and the players from the WBC are back. Can Mr. March Jose Martinez do enough to make the team? Will Peralta be officially given the 3B starter role over super sub Gyorko? Will anyone’s health drastically change the outlook of the team? All this remains to be seen over the next 2 weeks in Jupiter.