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.

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.