I don’t know about you, but it now really feels like the spring schedule has gotten underway. The opening weekend, even in the no-stakes arena that is Florida, always seems a little more about fanfare, at least to those watching. It’s the first time we’ve seen the team since last October, there’s so much to see and discuss, things like that.
When you get into the weekdays, it’s now part of the routine. You don’t likely get to watch every inning like you did on Saturday and Sunday. (Though that, for most people, was more because it wasn’t televised than because they were working, given the snow day many had yesterday.) The rhythm of baseball, while still a little erratic, still a little unfamiliar, is starting to take hold.
We know that you aren’t supposed to take spring results seriously, at least not this early, but it was definitely heartening to see Jhonny Peralta crack two home runs yesterday in a loss to the Tigers. While the wind didn’t hurt matters at all, the fact is that two home runs is more than the Cards got out of the shortstop position all last year. (Most frustrating about Pete Kozma‘s lone longball? It came in the first series of the year. Long time to go without a big fly after that.) It was also nice to see that the Detroit fan base still supported him even after he moved on, which tends to emphasize the character/clubhouse side of him.
Someone that didn’t have that kind of success was Kolten Wong, who was hitless again yesterday. However, I think there’s even optimism to be found there, as he didn’t strike out in his three trips to the plate. I think the hits will start falling as long as he’s making contact and not being fooled. The problem I saw this weekend was that he just seemed a little lost at the plate. Even with a double play, I’d imagine those at bats looked better.
Mike Matheny said he should feel better about those at bats, but he added, “I hope so, but he won’t.” It sounds like one of the things Wong is going to have to learn this spring, besides the hitting side of things, is how to let things go and to build on what you have. At this rate, Wong may wind up on the disabled list with a bleeding ulcer.
We’ve been talking a lot about the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. While it seems to be focused on Carlos Martinez and Joe Kelly, after the first pass through things Tyler Lyons should be in that mix as well. All three threw two innings, Lyons in relief of Martinez, and only Lyons came through unscathed. Kelly pitched yesterday and didn’t complete the second inning before his pitch limit was up, having allowed a couple of runs in the first. Granted, it sounds like Kelly was focusing on his curveball a lot, trying to work on that, so you take the results with a grain of salt. Nothing is going to be decided based on this limited body of work, but it will be interesting to see if Lyons can stay in this competition going forward.
Bernie Miklasz writes a nice piece about the fact that, while the Cards have a ton of young pitching on staff, there are a lot more in reserve. It’s amazing how deep this system runs, which will also give John Mozeliak the upper hand when it comes to salary negotiations. Not all of these guys are going to be life-long Cardinals. Mo gets the chance to pick the best and leave the rest, as it were. Which was a similar method a former Cardinal GM, a guy by the name of Branch Rickey, employed many moons ago.
Let’s wrap up the approval ratings. Today’s player is Adam Wainwright, who has never gotten less than 88% in this experiment. People love Waino and with good reason, because he brings excellence both on and off the field. This year was no different. Between 17 perfect marks and a low of 65, Wainwright averaged out with a 94.3% mark, which as remarkable as it is, is only his third-highest tally in five years.
We goofed on the media members and finished them yesterday, so the only thing left is the approval rating of the United Cardinal Bloggers. I like to see how our intrepid band of bloggers is thought of among the readership. While there were a lot of people that had no opinion or hadn’t heard of the group, the ones that did gave us a nice 85.4% grade, our highest ever. There are so many great bloggers in this group that it’s nice to see people are starting to realize what we are and who we are.
We talk about the other team from Missouri in the Pepper series this afternoon, so come on back after lunch!