Feb. 14: Q of the Day
I’d like to hear about your thoughts about who you think will be on the 25-man roster, as well as who the starting rotation might be. I know the latter will be a real wait-and-see situation since a couple of the young guys have to take advantage of an opportunity to step into that role.
— Layton J., Springfield, Mo.
Aside from the starting rotation, there aren’t many position battles to sort out this spring. That certainly boosts my chances of correctly picking the Cardinals’ Opening Day 25-man roster. Still, as the team stands now — and remember, injuries could derail any projection — I see four spots up for grabs: one in the rotation, two in the bullpen and one on the bench. With that in mind, here is an early guess at how things might shake out:
POSITION PLAYERS (13)
- Catchers: Yadier Molina, Tony Cruz
- Infielders: Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso, Rafael Furcal, Ronny Cedeno, David Freese, Ty Wigginton
- Outfielders: Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran, Shane Robinson
* Robinson is the one in that still very much has to earn his spot. While the Cardinals filled out their bench with the free-agent signings of Wigginton and Cedeno this winter, the club is likely to want to carry someone who can play center field. Robinson or Adron Chambers would be able to fill this need.
- Starters: Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller
- Relievers: Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica, Marc Rzepczynski, Randy Choate, Fernando Salas, Joe Kelly
* Predicting who the Cardinals will name their fifth starter was really, really challenging. It’s hard not to see an argument for the inclusion of any of the three young pitchers — Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal — in the rotation. Kelly has the most Major League experience and gave the Cardinals quality starts with regularity last season. Rosenthal dazzled out of the bullpen and clearly has a special arm. He can maintain a velocity in the high-90s as a starter, too. And then there’s Miller, who, of the three, had the most attention in the Minors. There’s no question he has a high ceiling, and he appeared to right himself during the second half of last season.
Having overcome his first true taste of adversity in 2012, I could see Miller taking a huge step forward this year, which is why I gave him the edge for the rotation spot. He clearly has the pitches to be effective in the Majors, and he now looks much closer to having the mental game to complement that. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly or Rosenthal get the nod.
** I’d give Salas an edge on a bullpen spot because of his experience and the way he rebounded after a slow start to his 2012 season.
*** Filling that last bullpen spot was also difficult. I sense there is a strong chance it will be filled by one of the three young pitchers who doesn’t crack the rotation. Since I put Miller in the rotation, I went with Kelly in the bullpen. This is no criticism of Rosenthal, who could well end up being the best of the three. As you watched him dominate during last postseason, it was hard not to imagine Rosenthal pitching as a closer in a few years. But I think the Cardinals remain intrigued with Rosenthal’s long-term potential in a starting role, and that’s why he could benefit from getting some more experience in Triple-A. He would then be in position to help in St. Louis should a rotation opening arise during the season.
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