Entertaining National Championship game. Texas is making a comeback. I feel so badly for Colt McCoy - what a tough way for a great career to end. Roll Tide!
Matt Holliday was formally reintroduced to the Cardinal's media and fans today. Nothing too spectacular to touch on, pretty normal press conference. Matt will change his number from 15 to 7. Holliday also said that the Cardinals commitment to winning and Albert Pujols were two factors that influenced him to stay.
Tony La Russa said today that he expects Mark McGwire to break his silence soon, possibly by the end of the month. No date has been set for his introduction as the Cardinal's Hitting Coach. According to the New York Daily News, (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/2010/01/07/2010-01-07_mark_mcgwire_pinchhitting.html) La Russa also said that he would consider putting McGwire on the expanded roster come August 31, 2010. This could get interesting.
As far as the bench goes, there are still more questions than answers. Our farm system is depleted, ranking 29th out of 30 teams by Baseball America.
Infield - As of right now, we are counting on David Freese to be our everyday third baseman. The two other young infielders on the 40-Man Roster, Tyler Greene (108 MLB AB's, .222, 2 HR, 7 RBI ) and Mark Hamilton (0 MLB AB's), are virtually untested at the Major League level. Greene will be given the opportunity to make the club as a utility infielder. He is very good defensively and hit .277 in his two years in Memphis. I expect him to be on the opening day roster. Hamilton, however, is a first baseman. Unless something unexpected happens to Pujols, we won't be needing a first baseman for quite a while in St. Louis. The Cardinals will also carry Julio Lugo as a utility infielder to start the year who can spell Schmaker, Ryan, and Freese.
Outfield - I assume the Cardinals will carry 12 pitchers, 2 Catchers, and 6 Infielders...which leaves room for 5 outfielders. Holliday, Rasmus, and Ludwick will have three of the spots, so there are two positions up for grabs.
On the 40-Man right now, the Cardinals have Allen Craig, Daryl Jones, and Jon Jay, all of whom have no MLB experience, as well as Joe Mather, Shane Robinson, and Nick Stavinoha, who have a combined 302 Major League At-Bats among them. Because of this, I expect the Cardinals to go out into free agency and sign another outfielder. I do, however, expect St. Louis to break camp with one of these six outfielders on the active roster, probably Stavinoha or Jon Jay. Allen Craig has a promising bat but no position, Daryl Jones is still too young, Mather was hurt for most of '09, and Shane Robinson struggled in Memphis last season.
The case for Stavinoha is that he has played more than 300 games at the AAA level hitting .293 in that time with above average power. The knock on Stavinoha is that he won't take walks. The case for Jay is that he can play all three outfield positions, hit .288 in 152 games in Memphis, and stole 20 bases last season. His on-base percentage is also higher than Stavinoha's.
In looking to free agency to fill the last outfield spot, I imagine the Cardinals will look for a player who has played or can play all three outfield spots, especially considering the questions surrounding Colby Rasmus's durability.
Three players come to mind: Randy Winn, Ryan Church, and Reed Johnson. Upside - Winn would seem to be the Cardinals first choice - another veteran in the clubhouse and a switch hitter off the bench. Downside - Winn only hit .158 against left-handed pitching last year and might not sign somewhere he knows he will be the fourth outfielder. Ryan Church, I believe, is the most likely option. He is a career .272 hitter and has enough speed to get by anywhere in the outfield. He also seems to be the most comfortable of the three options as the fourth outfielder. The last option is Reed Johnson who hit .255 with the Cubs in limited action in '09. Johnson is a career .282 hitter who is an excellent defensive outfielder. The final plus for Johnson is that he is a former Cub, and don't we all enjoy seeing former Cubs come to St. Louis and play well? I would love to see Randy Winn in Cardinal red, but I think Ryan Church is the most likely option. Your thoughts?
Sorry for the Stat overload today guys...I dislike next level statistics as much as anyone. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells is the anthem of this evening...in honor of the Alabama National Championship. That's all for tonight.
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