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.

Report: Rangers’ deal with Seung-hwan Oh is off

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The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.

Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.

While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.