As this series proves daily, it’s been a long time since we last saw the Cardinals doing baseball things. (If you’ve read this series regularly, it probably feels even longer to you.) As my co-host Tara Wellman said as we were getting ready for this week’s Gateway to Baseball Heaven, “What were we even talking about in spring training?” Thank goodness for blogs, right? Let’s go figure the answer to that question out.
Of course, right around the time baseball shut down, we were talking about all the other teams in the Playing Pepper series. That series didn’t age well, did it? The issues surrounding a 60 game season are much different than a 162 game one. I don’t know that I want to revisit it, but it might be something to kick around over the next three weeks.
We were also concerned a bit about the pitching depth after Miles Mikolas came up lame. Thankfully, it seems that Mikolas will be fine to start the season and the specter of Tommy John surgery that we thought might be a problem has come and gone (and landed, apparently, on John Brebbia). Kwang Hyun Kim looked to be the beneficiary of a little more playing time if the season had started as normal, but the extra time off means that he’ll likely spend more time in the bullpen with the occasional spot start. However, Kim already had probably logged more Busch Stadium time than anyone is going to get besides his throwing partner, Adam Wainwright.
There were positives and negatives when you looked at the team. There was some hope (though not overwhelming) that Matt Carpenter would be better than he was in 2019. There was a lot of excitement about watching Jack Flaherty, though with the knowledge he wasn’t going to be quite as good as he was in the second half of the prior season because he’s human and nobody could duplicate that, not even Bob Gibson. There were a lot of questions that needed to be answered and that, at least, hasn’t changed. The problem is now the answers have a lot more weight attached to them.
Brett Cecil got hurt right before things shut down, though most saw that as a way to avoid him being put on the roster in the last year of his contract. Cecil’s name is on the list of 44 for Busch, but we still don’t really know if he’s recovered. It seemed the updates around his injury were more vague than around others such as Andrew Miller, who was also dealing with things at the end of spring but now seems fully ready to go after his stint as player rep.
Also, do you remember that amazing play Kolten Wong turned in during one of the spring training games?
That was definitely worth watching again.
A lot of the concerns that we had in spring–will Jeff Albert be able to get more out of the hitters this year? Can Wainwright continue to defy Father Time? Will Paul Goldschmidt be more MVP-like?–are still there now. We’ll start getting the answers soon!