Even as the rain dumps down over my house and the St. Louis area this weekend dealt with ice, the pictures and articles from sunny Jupiter, Florida give us that jolt we need to realize that baseball will be here very soon. (Pictures from Jupiter the planet are also cool, but the big red spot is less exciting than the big red Paul.) Along with the players, the media has started to arrive at spring training, no doubt excited not only to start another season of work but also to escape the winter in the Midwest.
Which means we have some stories and interviews coming at us soon and Derrick Goold has already started filing some things with that Florida dateline. One of the more notable ones on the Post-Dispatch website lists out 10 questions that hang over this camp, from Dexter Fowler‘s bounce back to Alex Reyes‘s role. The one that stands out to me is whether Jose Martinez and Jedd Gyorko can co-exist on this roster. As you know, I’ve continued to point out that there’s only a couple of bench spots and the musical chairs with those two, Tyler O’Neill, Yairo Munoz, and Drew Robinson is going to leave a couple of folks without a seat.
I still have trouble believing that it does any good to send O’Neill or Munoz down to Memphis, given what they contributed at the major league level last year. O’Neill, for sure, proved that he didn’t have anything else to learn as he destroyed Memphis while he was there. The club traded for Robinson to get that left-handed bat (though he’s not particularly hit right-handers that well in his career) and you’d think they’d want him on the roster, but he does have an option yet and I could see them sending him to Memphis to start and wait for the best opportunity to bring him up. That still means someone isn’t making it on the 25 unless they go with 12 pitchers, which creates roster problems on the other side of the ledger and it doesn’t seem likely that would happen.
The club obviously didn’t get what they wanted for Martinez, which if a really good hitter making basically the league minimum isn’t in demand, especially from an AL team, either baseball has gotten completely out of whack or you are expecting too much return. Maybe another team gets to camp and doesn’t see what they expect from those that might DH, opening up an opportunity. I would think if Martinez can’t move at his salary it’d be even tougher to move Gyorko, who at least can play the field but, even with the Padres’ money underwriting him, makes $8 million this year. As I’ve said before, he’s probably too pricey for teams that could use him as a starter and you can’t get anything for him for teams that would use him as a reserve.
Given this team has standing reservations at the hotel next to the Path of Least Resistance, it feels like probably O’Neill or Munoz will wind up playing at least some of their season at AAA, assuming that an injury in spring doesn’t clear some of this up. It’s a shame but, like John Brebbia last year and possibly John Brebbia this year, baseball’s not always about performance–sometimes it’s about control and if you’ve got an option when others don’t, odds are they are going to exercise it.
There are a lot of folks already in camp–I think I saw Jeff Jones, our guest on the most recent Meet Me at Musial, tweet this morning that Jose Martinez had joined the fray, meaning over half of the hitters are already there, I believe–and it’s going to be fun to see how this camp differs now that Mike Shildt is completely in charge. I am still efforting to talk to Jamie Pogue before the season starts (as we always do} and he should be able to give us a first-hand account of how things are going. There’s also some non-roster folks there, including Official Prospect of the Blog (as assigned by Kyle Reis, who is getting into his Dirty Thirty-Five rankings again over at Birds on the Black) Dylan Carlson. Carlson is still a good ways from the majors–he’s not even seen Springfield yet–but he’s an intriguing player all the same. I continue to think of him as a first baseman because, with the glut of outfielders and less of a glut of first basemen, it would seem to be a natural move. It’s not one the Cards have made yet, however, and no matter where he plays, he has been able to hit at every level. It gets you dreaming about him and Nolan Gorman hitting three-four in a 2022 or 2023 Cardinal lineup.
Long way to go before we get there, of course. It feels like a long way until we start to see baseball on our screens but that’s just 12 days from now. A week from Saturday we’ll see the Cards and Marlins match up on FOX Sports Midwest and we’ll start feeling whole again. It’s good to have much of the winter behind us and have more things to talk about than where some free agents are going and why the Cardinals aren’t chasing them. We need a little variety!