Diving into the depths: St. Louis Cardinals

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Adam Wainwright
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Jake Westbrook
4. Jaime Garcia
5. Kyle Lohse
6. P.J. Walters
7. Brian Tallet
8. Ian Snell
9. Lance Lynn
10. Bryan Augenstein
11. Adam Ottavino
12. Miguel Batista
13. Brandon Dickson
14. David Kopp
15. Shelby Miller

The Cardinals don’t lack for rotation options. Lynn is probably the best bet of the alternatives, though new Busch Stadium could probably make Tallet resemble a decent fifth starter if needed. Miller, one of baseball’s top prospects, will start off in the Florida State League. He’s capable, but he’d have to turn in a truly remarkable season to have much chance of jumping to the majors before 2012.

Bullpen
1. Ryan Franklin
2. Kyle McClellan
3. Jason Motte
4. Mitchell Boggs
5. Trever Miller
6. Brian Tallet
7. Fernando Salas
8. P.J. Walters
9. Ian Snell
10. Miguel Batista
11. Raul Valdes
12. Eduardo Sanchez
13. Blake King
14. Adam Reifer
15. Kevin Thomas

It looks like the Cardinals will enter spring training with just one spot on the pitching staff up for grabs. Salas is the best bet from the group that also includes Walters, Snell and Batista, but since he has options remaining, the Cards could choose to look at one of the veterans first.

Catcher
1. Yadier Molina
2. Gerald Laird
3. Bryan Anderson
4. Tony Cruz

First base
1. Albert Pujols
2. Lance Berkman
3. Mark Hamilton

Second base
1. Skip Schumaker
2. Nick Punto
3. Daniel Descalso
4. Tyler Greene

Third base
1. David Freese
2. Tyler Greene
3. Nick Punto
4. Daniel Descalso
5. Allen Craig

Shortstop
1. Ryan Theriot
2. Nick Punto
3. Tyler Greene
4. Peter Kozma

Descalso may well be the team’s best option at second base right now, but that’s not saying a whole lot. He’s due to return to Triple-A as a result of the Punto signing. Maybe he’ll get a chance if Schumaker turns in another first half like last year’s (.255/.318/.324 with his continued subpar defense at second base).

Left field
1. Matt Holliday
2. Jon Jay
3. Allen Craig
4. Skip Schumaker
5. Nick Stavinoha
6. Adron Chambers

Center field
1. Colby Rasmus
2. Jon Jay
3. Skip Schumaker
4. Adron Chambers
5. Daryl Jones

Right field
1. Lance Berkman
2. Jon Jay
3. Allen Craig
4. Nick Stavinoha
5. Amaury Cazana

The Cardinals are taking a big chance on going with Berkman in right field. I think he’ll bounce back offensively, but he’ll give up runs with the glove and he’ll probably struggle to stay healthy in the outfield. Jay was a bust over the final two months of last season and Craig is a fringe player, so the Cards may need help here sooner or later.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.

Donald Trump may throw out the first pitch at the Nationals opener

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It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.