Tag: Brandon Dickson

Jaime Garcia

Jaime Garcia just pitched like a guy with a sore elbow


The Cardinals had Jaime Garcia skip his turn last week due to elbow discomfort, but it appears it wasn’t enough. Dealing with reduced velocity, he was pounded for six runs in two innings before being pulled from Tuesday’s game against the Astros.

Garcia, who was typically working in the 88-90 mph range earlier this season, was throwing 85-87 mph tonight and was also ineffective with his curve. He allowed just his second homer of the year, that coming off the bat of Justin Maxwell. The six runs he gave up took his ERA from 3.78 to 4.48.

There’s a good chance Garcia will join Chris Carpenter on the DL after this one, potentially putting Brandon Dickson into the St. Louis rotation. It’d be another big blow to a team that would fall to .500 on the season with a loss tonight.

Cardinals demote top prospects Shelby Miller, Zack Cox

Shelby Miller

Any speculation that Shelby Miller might be the choice to replace Chris Carpenter in early April ended Wednesday with the Cardinals’ decision to reassign him to minor league camp.

Among the others also demoted today were fellow starter Brandon Dickson and third baseman Zack Cox.

Miller, one of baseball’s top prospects, went 11-6 with a 2.77 ERA between high-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield last season. He disappointed a bit with his velocity while allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings this spring, but given that he’s just getting warmed up, it probably isn’t something to worry about.

Dickson, 27, made his major league debut with the Cardinals last summer, allowing three runs over 8 2/3 innings in one start and three relief appearances. He’s another one of the team’s fallback rotation options this season, though a far less exciting one than Miller.

Cox, a 2010 first-round pick, was 2-for-9 with five strikeouts this spring. He and Miller were teammates for most of last season, with both moving up from the FSL to the Texas League partway through. They’ll likely both return to Springfield to start this season.

Cardinals won’t stretch out Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan

Lance Lynn

OK, yeah, boring headline; this one probably won’t get a lot of clicks. But it rates as a pretty curious decision to me.

New Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Monday that he doesn’t plan to stretch out any of his relievers, a group that includes former starters Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs. In means that in the event of a late injury to one of his five starters, he’ll probably be forced to turn to Brandon Dickson at the back of the rotation.

“When you have a younger ‘pen, you don’t want to confuse the issue,” Matheny said. “When you have guys who are still trying to find their role … right now we have everybody exactly where we want to be.”

Right now, yes. And I strongly believe that major league teams typically go overboard in worrying about the worst-case scenario. But the Cardinals’ sixth, seventh and eighth best starters are all in their bullpen. That could come back to bite them later on.

Of course, if Chris Carpenter or someone else were to suffer an oblique strain tomorrow, there would be plenty of time for the Cardinals to adjust. Lynn would be the obvious choice to move back to the rotation in that case. But if Lynn finishes the spring never having thrown more than two innings in an outing and a starter goes down at the beginning of April, it’s going to take a few outings in stretch him out.

As for Matheny’s reasoning, I think he’s worrying about it a bit too much. Lynn didn’t work as a reliever in the minors before the Cards shifted him to the pen last year, and all he did was post a 2.22 ERA and fan 32 in 24 1/3 innings out of the pen. I think the smart play would be to have him start games this spring, just in case.

Running down the rosters: St. Louis Cardinals

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

The World Series champion Cardinals will go it without Albert Pujols, but the additions of Adam Wainwright (back from Tommy John surgery) and Carlos Beltran should sufficiently make up for that. On paper this year’s team looks just as good as the one that won it all. Of course, last year’s winners wouldn’t have sniffed the postseason playing in any division besides the NL Central, so there is room for improvement.

Adam Wainwright – R
Chris Carpenter – R
Jaime Garcia – L
Kyle Lohse – R
Jake Westbrook – R

Jason Motte – R
Fernando Salas – R
Mark Rzepczynski – L
Kyle McClellan – R
Mitchell Boggs – R
J.C. Romero – L
Eduardo Sanchez – R

SP next in line: Lance Lynn (R), McClellan, Shelby Miller (R), Brandon Dickson (R)
RP next in line: Scott Linebrink (R), Lynn, Jess Todd (R), Maikel Cleto (R), Adam Reifer (R), Samuel Freeman (L)

I didn’t leave a spot for Lynn here, even though I project him as the Cardinals’ fourth best starter. He’s quite a luxury for the team at the moment. The Cardinals could try to dump Westbrook’s salary and slide him into the rotation or move McClellan and use him as a long man. The best option, though, is probably to stand pat and see what happens this spring. I doubt Carpenter and Garcia are going to combine to make 66 starts again. The Cards are sure to need at least six starters, and as great as Miller will be someday, they’re not going to want to have to call on him in the first half.

The bullpen should be strong, even if neither Motte nor Salas can quite duplicate their 2.2x ERAs from last season. The closer’s gig is Motte’s to lose after a fine postseason that included five saves.

SS Rafael Furcal – S
RF Carlos Beltran – S
LF Matt Holliday – R
1B Lance Berkman – S
3B David Freese – R
CF Jon Jay – L
C Yadier Molina – R
2B Daniel Descalso – L

C Tony Cruz – R
INF Tyler Greene – R
INF Alex Cora – L
2B/OF Skip Schumaker – L
OF Shane Robinson – R

Disabled list: Allen Craig (R)
Next in line: C Bryan Anderson (L), C Koyie Hill (S), 1B/OF Mark Hamilton (L), 1B Matt Adams (L), 3B Matt Carpenter (L), INF Pete Kozma (R), INF-OF Eugenio Velez (S), OF Adron Chambers (L), OF Erik Komatsu (L)(Rule 5)

The offense doesn’t lack for big names even with Pujols gone, but I do have my concerns. Berkman and Molina are due for at least mild declines, and Berkman, Furcal, Beltran and Freese all rank among the biggest injury risks at their positions. Given those issues, one would think the Cardinals would have invested more in their bench this winter.

Of course, the bench situation would look a lot better if Craig makes a quick return from knee surgery. He’s the team’s third best outfielder, and he’ll be great insurance for Beltran and Berkman if healthy.

As is, the bench spots are largely up for grabs, with only Schumaker completely assured of his place (though Greene is probably safe). Cruz will battle Anderson to become Molina’s backup, with Hill possibly sneaking in if neither youngster impresses. Cora, Hamilton and Carpenter are the candidates for the sixth infield spot. Robinson, Chambers and Komatsu will compete for one gig in the outfield. I don’t have much faith in anyone from that group, but that’ll be Craig’s spot eventually.

My guess is that the Cardinals start strong, but that injuries take a toll as the year goes on. There may be enough pitching depth to get them back to 90 wins anyway, but the NL Central crown could come down to whether Furcal, Beltran and others are close to 100 percent come September.