I’d been swingin’ and missin’ and lovin, and kissin, My average was point double-o eight ~ Lurlene Lumpkin – Finally Bagged Me a Homer (Simpsons)
Today the sweetest words in the English language are uttered: ‘Pitchers and Catchers Report.’ Yadi and the boys will look to make the NLCS and beyond yet again. Let’s take a look at how the Birds addressed their needs over the long cold winter (which is still in full effect, by the way).
First of all, I think the Cardinals definitely overachieved last year, even more so than 2013. The expectations for Birds were extremely high and equally unrealistic. The other-worldly performances had to come back down to Earth. And they did…and still managed to make the NLCS. That’s pretty impressive and the team should be proud of that, but there are still some wounds left pretty fresh from the series. Namely, Michael Wacha, who gave up the series winning bomb and never should have been in the game in the first place. How will Wacha, Matheny and the rest of the boys come back in 2015? Well, GM John Mozeliak has provided some reinforcement.
To fill the heavy-hearted hole left by the unfortunate passing of Right-fielder Oscar Tavares, Mozeliak traded for Jason Heyward. Heyward came over from the Braves with flame-throwing reliever Jordan Walden. So, the Cards shored up right field and added to an iffy bullpen. In order to do this, the Cardinals traded from strength, dealing starter Shelby Miller and stud prospect Tyrell Jenkins. I was never sold on Shelby Miller becoming an elite pitcher. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t think he would have helped the team – he definitely would have. What it does mean, is that it is perfectly ok with me that Johnny Mo used him in a trade. If the Cardinals sign Heyward to an extention, so much the better, but I still like the trade even if he walks.
Other additions include reliever Matt Belisle and strikeout machine Mark Reynolds. I don’t know much about Belisle, but Viva El Birdos does, here’s their take. I have never been a fan of all or nothing hitters like Reynolds, but you can’t deny his power, and that was something the team sorely lacked last year. If they can get Matt Adams a majority of starts at first base and leave Reynolds to do what he does best: be a power hitter off the bench, I think the team can make it work. The main departures from the team (outside of the trade) were Pat Neshek, whom the team could no longer afford and Jason Motte and Daniel Descalso, who’s best years are probably behind them.
Competition starts now for the Cardinals fifth starter. Most people in the organization would like to see Carlos Martinez earn the spot and prove his potential, pushing Marco Gonzales to be a stud in he bullpen for another year. One thing is for sure: ‘Spring’ could not have gotten here quicker.