Spring Training, Unscripted

If, when the spring started, you were doing a modified version of Derrick Goold’s Survivor: Jupiter, in which instead of picking the last player to miss a spring game, you were picking the order in which people were sent to the minor league camp, I’m fairly sure there wouldn’t have been many that said Stephen Piscotty would stay in camp longer than Oscar Taveras.  Yet, after yesterday, that’s exactly the situation the Cardinals find themselves in.

It’s no surprise that Taveras was sent down.  While we’d have liked to see him more in action with the big league club, John Mozeliak had a point in that the playing time for players that aren’t likely to be on the club is going to decrease from this point forward, which was going to make it even harder (assuming that was possible, as the hill Taveras was staring at to make the club was almost sheer) for the prized prospect to make the impact on coaches and evaluators that he needed to suggest that he didn’t need more time in Memphis.

Again, this is what we expected from the get go.  Well, not the whole one-hit-all-spring, played-in-two-games bit.  We did think we’d get a good look at him down in Jupiter.  But even with a strong spring, the odds to make the club weren’t in his favor.  Hopefully he’ll get into a number of minor league games over the next two weeks, have a great month or two in AutoZone Park, get a chance to see Graceland, and be up with the club before the All-Star Break.  As we’ve seen, though, there are absolutely no guarantees on that.

As for Piscotty, he’s opened a number of eyes this spring.  In fact, if the club was less concerned about his development (and they had room on the 40-man roster, though that last hurdle is easily removed), Piscotty could make this team as a bench bat.  However, just as with Taveras, there’s not many at bats he’s going to get in the big leagues.  If they thought Piscotty was close to his ceiling, they might make that call.  I don’t think they are of that opinion, though, and even though he tore through the Arizona Fall League and has had a very impressive time in Jupiter, he still needs some regular at bats to grow and develop as a player.

Would he get the call before Taveras?  It seemed inconceivable before, but now I don’t think it would be as much of a surprise.  After all, remember that Joe Kelly got the promotion to the bigs before Shelby Miller did.  I think that’s a bit analogous to this situation.  Miller and Taveras were both the big time prospect surprised by a guy that put together better results.  Doesn’t mean they are better players, but it meant Kelly and perhaps Piscotty got the taste of the bigs first.

Now, someone like Xavier Scruggs, who is also having a good spring, the club might look at his long-term potential and figure he’s not harmed by riding the bench a little bit in the bigs.  If they thought his power would translate to a pinch-hitting/occasional playing time paradigm, then he might beat them all to St. Louis, even though his stay might not be as long.  Utility and bench guys are always an aid to a club and Scruggs might be that kind of guy.  You can read more about him in a Q&A Goold did with him recently.

If you want to talk about results, you can’t argue with what Lance Lynn did yesterday.  After a rough outing the last time, Lynn goes out and fans ten Braves, including eight in a row, over four innings.  The Braves do have some guys that strike out, but eight in a row, no matter if there are eight pitchers in the lineup, is pretty impressive stuff.  If nothing else, Lynn could make the case not to send him to the bullpen, since his troubles came in relief last time.  It’s an exciting outing to be sure and hopefully he can flash that form more consistently this season.

The fifth starter competition is still going on, but as much as I am not exactly sure about the long-term effects, there seems little question that Carlos Martinez has pulled into the lead for that spot.  Now, I believe the only team that he’s faced this spring is the Mets (I know for sure two of his starts were against them) so you could say that Martinez knows how to beat the New Yorkers but might not be able to take that to a better team.  It’s a fair point, but my contention would be that the Mets have seen him now two or three times in succession and they still aren’t able to do much with him.  That fact goes in the pro pile for me, given how teams modify and adjust.  I’m sure they don’t do quite as much of that during the spring, of course, but even just seeing him pitch that regularly should give them some ideas on him, but they still aren’t able to hit him.

Now, I say that Martinez is in the lead.  That’s if you are basing it on spring results, which will of course not be all the Cardinals look at.  Kelly has the advantage of incumbency, which means Martinez would have to do a lot to unseat him.  (It would seem Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons is no longer in the mix, since he’s not started at all this spring.  Lyons didn’t allow anything against the Braves yesterday, but I’d expect he’ll be sent out soon to start stretching out to be a starter at Memphis and be on call if necessary.)  Kelly can still take that last spot and may do so, but it’s not going to be given to him.  He’s going to need a couple of good outings, I think, to reassure the brass that he’s got this.

A couple of things to wrap up this post and, save Playing Pepper this afternoon with the A’s and maybe one more thing still in development, close down the week.

First off, the United Cardinal Bloggers are again doing The Bird’s Eye View this year.  (If you know what the BEV is and are already on our mailing list, you can move along if you want.  You don’t have to sign up again.)  Before every series, one of the talented writers of the UCB or myself will preview the Cardinals’ matchup, looking at various things of interest in the upcoming games.  If you sign up, you’ll also get our season preview email, which will be coming out next week, looking at various facets of the team and giving you a chance to get to know the writers that will be coming your way this season.

It’s easy to sign up–again, if you have before, you are still on our list–and I’ll make it easier by embedding the form below.  Fill it out and you’ll start getting emails shortly!

The other thing is a personal note that has nothing to do with baseball.  I had intended to write the last couple of mornings, but sleep has been fleeting given that Wednesday morning, our 13-year-old dog Dax passed away.  We knew it was coming for the last week, but it didn’t make it any easier to deal with.  Many of you know that from my Facebook post, but being that she was an incredible dog, I wanted to take the time to salute her here as well as let you know why there’s been a little less from me this week.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and we’ll see you back here Monday, if not before!

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