We said yesterday that, more likely than not, Aledmys Diaz will be plying his trade in Memphis to start the year. Diaz, however, would like to start a different conversation.
Diaz raked four hits, including two doubles, in yesterday’s 5-3 win over the Minnesota Twins in Grapefruit League action. It impressed the manager, as Mike Matheny said it should be treated as more than a spring training game given the situation, and got some people chomping at the bit for Diaz to replace Jhonny Peralta while the latter is out with his thumb injury.
Most people, though, realize that it was one game and a game in less than ideal circumstances for estimating whether Diaz can play in the big leagues. It’s enough to get some attention, though, and that may be all that Diaz needs. He obviously responded last year when he was removed from the 40-man roster, finally hitting to the level that the club had thought they’d get when they originally signed him at the beginning of 2014. Was that things finally clicking? There’s reason to hope so. There’s also plenty of reason to keep watching and waiting.
Which is fine. Peralta’s replacement doesn’t need to be named right this moment. If Diaz can have a stellar spring, with many more games like this than the 0-9 he was in before yesterday’s contest, then maybe he can get into the conversation. I still think that, unless he can win the starting job, he’s going to Memphis for some regular work. I imagine that the infield backups will play more this year than they have in the past, especially while Peralta’s out, but it still seems like Diaz needs to be out there every day. There’s still a lot of spring, though, so we’ll have to wait and see how things develop.
Michael Wacha apparently developed a cutter over the winter, which is not a bad thing at all. A little more unpredictability can only help a pitcher, especially one that scuffled in the second half last year. Wacha hopes they’ll hit the cutter early in the at bat (and on the ground at someone) so that he can be a little more efficient in his outings. It was fairly effective yesterday and hopefully he’ll be able to refine it to be a real option, even if it’s probably not going to supplant his fastball and changeup as his primary weapons. More options, better innings.
Yadier Molina could make his Grapefruit League debut today, which only reinforces the idea that he’ll be the starting catcher for the Cardinals when they open in Pittsburgh on April 3. Molina wouldn’t be hitting if he did play, just getting a couple of innings of catching behind the plate, but it seems more and more likely that hitting isn’t terribly far down the pike now that he’s hitting off a tee. The Cardinals don’t need Molina to be perfect or being ready enough to shoulder a bulk of the offense when he returns. They just need the pitcher whisperer back there and it looks like they are on pace for that.
Approval ratings time. Today’s player is Trevor Rosenthal. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people have opinions on the closer. However, when you put up a team record in saves, those opinions get a lot nicer. Rosenthal was one of the few who saw his score increase in 2016, putting up a 81.8% mark. On the media side, we’re looking at Bernie Miklasz, who last year left the Post-Dispatch and moved over to KMOX. Perhaps people in St. Louis still listen to him on the radio a lot, but I’ve not read as much of his writing after he made the swap. He also dropped to 77.4%, so it’s hard to know if that’s just who made up the sample or part of that’s due to the move.
Finally, we look at the manager. Mike Matheny infuriates people at times, there’s no doubt. We still have trouble with his tactics and some of his decisions. That said, he’s also been in the playoffs five straight years and last year led a club that could have been taken to the glue factory after so many injuries to 100 wins. For his trouble, he wound up with his lowest rating ever, 63.7%. Even with a more negative group of voters, that seems a little extreme.
Cardinals play the Marlins today and it’s on FOX Sports Midwest. If I’m remembering right, it’s Jim Edmonds‘s debut as a color man, so that should be another good reason to tune in!