Watching The Cardinals and Spring Training
Exhibition baseball is underway.
Here’s what I tend to keep an eye on during spring training.
I don’t put a lot of stock in exhibition wins and losses. Getting ready for the season and evaluating talent is what matters in Florida and Arizona.
I do pay a lot of attention to how starting pitchers perform. Note that Jaime Garcia is an exception. When healthy, Garcia has outstanding stuff. When he is on, he is borderline unhittable. It is in the Cardinals best interests to give Garcia every chance possible.
In general during spring training, one or two rough outings for a starter isn’t a big deal in my book. Seeing a starter get batted around every time he goes to the mound is a red flag. High walk totals are something to worry about. Not worried about Wainwright or Lynn and their recent injury dings. Yet.
Take note of how young guys do later in the spring against the other team’s pitchers—especially if they are certain members of the pitching staff.
With the Cardinals, I’m most interested in seeing what they really have with Jason Heyward. I’m not worried about his defense. Best defender for the Cardinals in right field since Larry Walker in 2005. In an ideal world, Heyward turns in a season along the lines of his 2012 season in Atlanta. That would mean a batting average around .270 with 25 to 30 homers and 20 or so stolen bases.
I’m also not that worried about the pitching. The staff should be solid in comparison to everyone else in baseball.
My biggest concern is center field.
Jon Jay has been an average defender to date. Jay won’t ever be mistaken for Terry Moore, Curt Flood, Bake McBride, Willie McGee or Jim Edmonds on defense. Jay hit .300 with poor power numbers and a respectable on base percentage. His 2014 effort is probably as good as it gets with Jay. Peter Bourjos was a huge disappointment in ’14. Way too many strikeouts for someone who is not a home run threat. Bourjos is also off to a slow start this spring, but at this point there is time to recover.