Projections and Paces – Cardinals

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The article below is meant to provide a quick look at how my
preseason projections match up with the paces of select major league
hitters.

Albert Pujols
2008: .357/.462/.653, 37 HR, 100 R, 116 RBI, 7 SB in 524 AB
Proj..: .328/.440/.624, 40 HR, 108 R, 118 RBI, 6 SB in 543 AB
Pace: .320/.444/.689, 56 HR, 126 R, 140 RBI, 22 SB in 544 AB

On the off chance that the current paces hold up, Pujols will lead the
Cardinals in homers by 34, in runs by 46, in RBI by 63 and in steals by
seven.

Skip Schumaker
2008: .302/.359/.406, 8 HR, 87 R, 46 RBI, 8 SB in 540 AB
Proj..: .287/.343/.396, 7 HR, 80 R, 44 RBI, 8 SB in 508 AB
Pace: .284/.333/.387, 7 HR, 80 R, 46 RBI, 2 SB in 537 AB

The transition to second base has gone about as well as hoped, but
Schumaker is back hitting like the fifth outfielder it was assumed he’d
be prior to last year.

Chris Duncan
2008: .248/.346/.365, 6 HR, 26 R, 27 RBI, 2 SB in 222 AB
Proj..: .256/.337/.473, 18 HR, 48 R, 53 RBI, 2 SB in 336 AB
Pace: .255/.345/.417, 12 HR, 51 R, 73 RBI, 0 SB in 493 AB

Duncan is hitting .230 since his strong April, and he’s due to start
losing more playing time to Colby Rasmus once the Cardinals are
finished in AL parks.

Yadier Molina
2008: .304/.349/.392, 7 HR, 37 R, 56 RBI, 0 SB in 444 AB
Proj..: .274/.332/.381, 9 HR, 42 R, 60 RBI, 1 SB in 457 AB
Pace: .284/.358/.397, 12 HR, 58 R, 53 RBI, 10 SB in 493 AB

Molina did hit an empty .300 last year, but most of his success came
against lefties. He’s currently at .292/.355/.390 against righties,
which would top his previous best OPS by 55 points.

Colby Rasmus
2008: N/A
Proj..: .245/.329/.416, 12 HR, 55 R, 44 RBI, 14 SB in 368 AB
Pace: .272/.322/.467, 17 HR, 68 R, 63 RBI, 2 SB in 471 AB

Rasmus has been all over the place as a hitter during his young
career. He finished April at .254/.357/.305 with no homers in 59
at-bats. In May, he hit five homers on his way to a .212/.256/.447 in
month. In June, he’s been a singles and doubles machine, but he’s yet
to walk in 51 at-bats, giving him a .392/.392/.686 line.

Ryan Ludwick
2008: .299/.375/.591, 37 HR, 104 R, 113 RBI, 4 SB in 538 AB
Proj..: .264/.337/.484, 27 HR, 87 R, 100 RBI, 3 SB in 541 AB
Pace: .233/.306/.423, 22 HR, 48 R, 77 RBI, 7 SB in 394 AB

Ludwick was hitting .274/.339/.538 before suffering a hamstring
injury of May 12. He’s been awful since returning at the end of the
month, but he still might find his way to 25 homers and 90 RBI.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.