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.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.