Even as I sat working on tax returns from my kitchen table yesterday, staring out over a white (though rapidly melting–those March snowstorms really don’t last) backyard, the Cardinals ushered in the greatest time of the year. From now until hopefully late October, we’ll have baseball games to talk about. This, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
I think it shows how much we miss the game that we spend so much time talking about what is technically a less-meaningful exhibition than the All-Star Game. Spring training games, especially early ones, don’t tell us a whole lot. Starters don’t play much. The last few innings are filled with guys you didn’t even know existed (unless you are CardinalsFarm) and won’t be seeing the big leagues for years, if ever. Throw in the fact that you can’t get a smaller sample than one game and drawing any broad conclusions from yesterday’s 4-1 win over the Marlins is pretty pointless.
However, it’s spring training for us bloggers as well and we’ve got to get into shape talking about games, so let’s talk about a few things. First off, it was a good first step for Carlos Martinez, though I’m still not as sold as most about him being a starter. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t or can’t, mind you, I just want to see if he can be that dominant force that everyone seems to be predicting for him. The control seems to be the biggest thing holding him back, so it was good to see that he didn’t walk anyone in his two innings. He didn’t allow a hit and struck out three, so it was about as good as you could hope for. That said, his stuff isn’t in question. It’s whether that will translate fully to being a starter. Two innings means he could still treat this like a relief appearance. I want to see him be effective over six, seven innings. I believe he can do that, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk like many others.
I was also disappointed to see that Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons wasn’t actually in this game after being announced as following Martinez earlier in the week. There doesn’t seem to be any noted reason for it, so hopefully Mike Matheny just changed his mind and not that this means Lyons has any sort of nagging injury. Obviously, we want to see Lyons out there and earning a spot on this team and if this is an early setback, that makes it much harder. Maybe we’ll see him in today’s game against the Astros.
The offense wasn’t explosive, but it did what needed to be done. Jason Heyward got his first hit as a member of the Redbirds and came around to score on an opposite-field single by Matt Adams. Heyward batted in the second spot, which many folks over the winter have speculated would be a good spot for him. Obviously the lineup isn’t written in even slowly-drying concrete at this time, especially with Jhonny Peralta and Yadier Molina not playing yesterday, but it was a good early look for the Cards. I imagine Matheny will drop Heyward into the middle of the lineup at least a couple of times this spring, so watching those results should be fun as well.
Adam Wainwright is continuing to progress, throwing pitches in the bullpen yesterday and being scheduled to throw batting practice on Sunday. The club isn’t rushing him, which is a good, if expected, thing. It sounds like he’s still able to be ready for that Opening Night assignment for the Redbirds, now just 30 days away. While it’s not vital that Waino goes that evening against the Cubs, any wins against teams like that are going to come in handy later on and, while Wainwright on Opening Day is no guarantee of a win, I’d like the Cardinals’ odds just a bit better. That said, if he can’t go and Lance Lynn takes the ball, I don’t think the Redbirds are at a disadvantage at all.
Looks like the Matts are leading Homers for Health and Waino and Trevor Rosenthal are heading up Ks for Kids. This has been a dicey proposition in the past. David Freese was part of that and then he was traded. Allen Craig was part of that, then slumped and was traded. Jason Motte was part of it last year and then left for free agency. Matt Holliday has been the constant, though, and hopefully we won’t have to be talking about the Cardinal Glennon curse at all this season. If we do, I bet next year they get retired legends to lend their names to it so as not to impact the on-field talent!
Marco Gonzales goes for the Redbirds today against the Astros. I don’t believe this one is on KMOX, but the Houston radio guys apparently are covering it, as it’ll be available on MLB’s Gameday Audio. Gonzales will have his work cut out for him. Martinez was already the established leader for the fifth spot in the rotation and he did nothing to open the door yesterday for anyone else. Gonzales will need to be on the top of his game to make sure he doesn’t fall farther behind. Should be fun to listen to–then again, at this time of year, any baseball is good baseball!