With most of the winter weather hopefully in the rear-view, it is officially time to start the baseball countdown. Pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter in less than a month with workouts in full gear before the WBC makes things interesting for the Cardinals more than most teams. Before jumping into what might occur the next three weeks, read this Winter Warmup review for the latest happenings plus some chuckles.
St. Louis clearly has improved overall with returning healthy players in the pitching staff as well as the new Redbirds. That doesn’t mean the additions are finished, as Mo has already called for at least a lefty-hitting spare outfielder among other pieces. Bullpen arms are always a last-minute addition but those moves rarely move the needle unless you are talking a big trade which is unlikely. The biggest remaining pieces on the market closely resemble what everyone hopes Matt Adams could be, and that is one player who figures to get plenty of at-bats this March.
For anyone searching the clearance bin to find a Kyle Lohse Special, keep digging as the Cardinals still have a full 40-man roster. That does limit the possibilities unless a deal comes together quickly for the just the right piece but bargains have become harder to find. The pillow-contract angle actually would make sense if a first baseman was needed, so that can be scratched off the list as well. With all that being said, just what may be on the St. Louis shopping list t-minus 30 days and counting before the 2017 campaign begins.
The biggest priority has to be figuring who fits the outfield puzzle, and that is where the most attention will be down in Florida. It isn’t out of the question to say the only true roster spot up for grabs is who becomes the spare outfielder who hits from the left side. Adams even slimmed down will not be the answer, so that means another new Redbird should be joining Opening Day given the need. One intriguing name has to be Jordan Schafer if you look at the roster just the right way. Schafer could become Matheny’s swiss-army tool able to pitch or hit but how ready is the southpaw at the Major League level.
Schafer is a familiar name from his time with the Braves as an outfield prospect who was in the Texas League last year as a LOOGY. He has the inside track currently just because it doesn’t cost anything to see if he can make the club. How he is actually deployed around the beginning of March will be even more important because that will let everyone know if another move might be needed. Sam Fuld and a few of the other names out there have question marks as do nearly all the players still looking for teams. Personal favorite Brandon Moss won’t be back, but that was clearly part of the plan to get more athletic.
The 2017 season is right around the corner and honestly, I find myself looking forward to April more than any other season in recent memory. Enjoy the rest of Winter as we thaw out and get ready for Spring.