The Cards just announced that Jason Motte will be shut down with a tear in his right elbow, and Mitchell Boggs will be the Cards closer to start the year. As I always say, you never have a pitching surplus. What looked to be a strength heading into 2013 in the Cards BP will now be tested early. This move immediately means that both Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller will head north with the Cards, but it also takes what I thought to be the Cards greatest strength in the BP in Trevor Rosenthal and puts him in a designated role.
Instead of having Rosenthal to be that guy to come in when tough situations come up with men on base to put out a fire, he’ll probably be the designated to the 7th or 8th inning. I understand the Cards going with Boggs as the closer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in the early season if Rosenthal is moved into that role. I think Rosenthal has the stuff to be the next Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel. Speaking of Chapman, the Reds have revised their plan and instead of moving him to the rotation, he will continue to close games.
The Cards say Motte will be evaluated again soon, but I’m not sure you can ever be optimistic when you hear the word tear with a pitcher’s throwing elbow. It will be even more important for Fernando Salas to return to 2011 form now (which I think he will since his kidney stones are gone), and hopefully Eduardo Sanchez gets off to a fast start as the closer in AAA and can be counted on again if another injury occurs. Michael Wacha, who has all of 21 professional IP, might just make it to STL in 2013 as well. Yadier Molina says Wacha is ready now.
With our annual UCB predictions coming up that I’m working on, it was a toss-up between the Cards and Reds in the NLC. Now, I have to give the edge to the Reds, who once again have remained injury free with their pitchers so far this year. I’m not sure the Reds can count on never missing a start from a SP like they did in 2012, but only time will tell. Those predictions will be posted before the season begins.
It took Motte a while, but he finally had it all working in 2012. After getting hit hard early with his fastball, he was able to pitch effectively with his cutter the final 4 months of the season and was very dominant. The Cards recently signed him to a 2 year contract because of the dominance he showed once he could locate the cutter.
The good news is the Cards have prepared for this by hanging onto their young arms. GM John Mozeliak has resisted trading away the future for needs that aren’t really there. Many fans are not happy with Pete Kozma as the starting SS, but those fans fail to understand what the Cards are trying to do not just in 2013, but through 2020. Now, we’ll get a chance to see that plan in action. It’s probably a little sooner than Mo would have liked, but the depth in 2013 doesn’t hang on the likes of Victor Marte, Barret Browning and Sam Freeman.
For those who may suggest the Cards need to trade for a proven closer, go ahead and zip it up, it’s not going to happen.