It’s been a while, but it looks like the server troubles are finally cleared up. So, I have a lot of catching up to do, and I’ll start with the signing of Ty Wigginton. The first thing that came to mind was the collision he had with Yadier Molina back in 2005 that made the cover of SI. I guess time heals all wounds. I would think that John Mozeliak would have asked Molina’s opinion of the signing before it happened as well. I have a feeling Wigginton is one of those guys you can’t stand until he’s on your team.
This was a great signing for what the Cards are trying to do. Wigginton brings a power bat from the right side. He can play the corner infield spots, as well as some LF and 2B. Along with Matt Carpenter, the Cards now have a steady power threat from both sides of the plate late in games on the bench, as well as the another power bat to make sure Carlos Beltran receives an appropriate amount of time off. Wigginton probably won’t play RF, but it gives the Cards the option of keeping a power bat on the bench on days when Carpenter starts for Beltran.
Skip Schumaker was traded, and I’m sure that one was tough for some of the fans as well as Skip. Skip did everything the Cardinals ever asked and was the ultimate team player. The fact that Matt Holliday and others talked about what a great loss he was says that Skip’s contributions went further than the numbers. The fact that Mark McGwire, as the new hitting coach of the Dodgers realized that even with big names on the team, a guy like Skip would be needed says something. Again, it goes beyond the numbers. Maybe Hanley Ramirez and Josh Beckett will benefit from having a guy like Skip around leading by example and putting the work in every single day. I may be overstating the importance of a player like Skip and I know some don’t believe anything beyond the numbers, but I’ll go ahead and stand by it.
Numbers can’t measure team chemistry and the importance of the players like Skip that do the little things necessary for a team to compete and win over a 162 game schedule. In return for Skip, the Cards got Jake Lemmerman, a career .285/.377/.448 hitter over 4 years in the minors. Lemmerman was the Dodgers 14th best prospect. Those stats look a little promising, except for the fact that Lemmerman has spent the last 2 years in AA hitting .234 in 2011 and .233 in 2012.
Lemmerman is organizational filler with hopes of turning into something better. His defense is above average according to fangraphs. Hopefully he’s a late bloomer with the bat. This move was to make room on the roster for the Wigginton signing. I want to wish Skip good luck wearing Dodger blue, and hopefully his presence will keep Beckett from eating too much fried chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse. I’d also like to be a fly on the wall to hear what Skip says to Ramirez if he ever jogs after a ball he kicks into the outfield again, I’m sure it would be better than the lollygagger speech from Bull Durham.
The next move flew under the radar a bit, but I think it’s the best of them all. Bengie Molina accepted the Cardinals offer to become the assistant hitting coach, the spot filled by John Mabry who was promoted to hitting coach. This is a bold move by the Cards. With Yadier spending most of his time with the pitching staff, Bengie will be able to pass on to the Cardinal hitters what the opposing pitchers are trying to do to them from a perspective they most likely haven’t heard. I like how the Cardinals went about this one. Bengie wasn’t a great hitter, but he’s going to be able to relay information to the hitters in a completely different way. I think his best move will be for in game adjustments, and I hope he’s here a while. It will be interesting to hear how the hitters talk about what they’re picking up from Bengie.
The Cardinals picking up Randy Choate for a second LOOGY to go along with Scrabble was another necessary move. I didn’t like what I saw out of Sam Freeman last year, as well as Scrabble, and this move solidifies what was already a deep bullpen. It also frees Mike Matheny from leaving Scrabble or Choate in to face a RHB at all if the game is on the line. How deep the BP will be will be determined by some huge question marks in the starting rotation.
With Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte for innings 7-9, the real question will be if Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal will be available or if they will be needed in the starting rotation. Jaime Garcia decided to try and rest his shoulder instead of opting for surgery. Chris Carpenter will turn 38 in April. Adam Wainwright’s return to form is questionable in his second year back from TJS, but I do expect great things from AW. Lance Lynn had a heavy workload and may suffer from a dead arm at some point.
If Fernando Salas bounces back to 2011 form in the BP and Eduardo Sanchez does the same after shoulder stiffness and control problems, they can certainly help bridge the gap to others in the minors like Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez if Rosenthal and/or Miller have to replace anyone in the rotation. I keep hearing about the pitching surplus the Cards have, but again I will say there’s no such thing.
Another move the Cards made was for Justin Christian to a minor league deal. Christian is 32, has had a cup of coffee in MLB but hasn’t produced. I believe this move is to give Adron Chambers and Shane Robinson competition in ST for the 5th OF’er, but it may not amount to much. In 9 years in the minors, Christian has a line of .291/.356/.431 but only a total of 143 AB’s in MLB. Christian played his final year of college ball at SEMO after being transferring from Auburn.
On a final note, the Cardinals made a big splash in the international market by signing by signing RHP Alex Reyes out of the Dominican Republic to $950,000 last week. The funny thing about the signing of Reyes if that he lived in New Jersey most of his life and only moved to the D.R. about a year ago, which freed him from the MLB draft, and allowed him to sign with whoever he wanted. He lived with other family members there. The one thing the Cards are impressed with in Reyes is that because he did play ball in the states for most of his life, he’s a little more polished than the average international player. This is the Cards biggest signing in the Latin market since Carlos Martinez.