September 18, 2021

Subtle Shifts

March 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

While no major news came out of Jupiter yesterday, there were a couple of things that could have an impact on the season to come.

First, the Cards returned Ben Jukich to the Reds.  For a Rule V guy, he didn’t get a lot of looks in camp, only getting two innings in one game.  I’m slightly surprised that the Reds didn’t work a trade for him, since to take him back they have to spend $25,000, and right now the Reds are pinching every penny they can.  Still, while it would have been nice to have him in Memphis as a potential backup, the Cards didn’t look at him as a LOOGY type anyway, so there are probably other options.  Be interesting to see how Jukich does this year, though, especially if he makes it to Cincinnati.
Secondly and more importantly, there seemed to be an organizational shift in regards to Jaime Garcia.  Going into the spring, some of us wanted to see him as the fifth starter in St. Louis, but the injury issue seemed to be influencing those that make the decisions, inspiring the signing of Rich Hill.  Garcia was seen as an afterthought to Hill and Kyle McClellan going at it for that last slot.
As your bracket will likely attest to this morning, afterthoughts have their way of making their way to the foreground.  On Twitter yesterday, Derrick Goold reported that Tony La Russa had declared that Garcia would be a starter somewhere, or at least that the organization wasn’t looking at him as a reliever.  As I said earlier this week, I expected him to take that long relief role that Adam Wainwright had a few years back.  That’s not the case anymore.
Then, Rich Hill pitched yesterday and it was another ineffective outing.  Hill walked five in three innings and, for a guy that needed to work on his command to be successful, that’s a step back.  So we wake up this morning to see in the paper a story that Garcia will be given a start Monday against the Astros.  As Darth Vader said, “The circle is now complete.”  (Well, almost, but when you get a chance to toss Vader into a blog post, you have to take it.)
Tom from CardinalsGM mentioned on Twitter yesterday that it was the point where he started to take results seriously.  There is just over two weeks left.  A lot of the guys that never were going to make it have been weeded out and sent to minor league camp.  Starters are starting to go five, six, seven innings.  The regulars will be playing.  Things that happen from now on are going to have a huge impact on the decisions that are left to be made.
So if Garcia goes out and throws on Monday like he’s been throwing the rest of the spring, that very well may put him in the lead in the fifth starter derby after being on the outside looking in for so long.  That’s what spring is all about, right?  The unexpected making a run.  A young third baseman making it so that you can’t leave him off the roster.  The hometown pitcher fighting his way onto the roster.  There is a reason spring training lasts this long!
Approval rating time!  Even though I didn’t plan it this way, so far every day has been one new person and one person we rated last year, and today is no different.
If we’d have rated Mark McGwire last year, it would have been as the disgraced and retired icon.  You’d have to have factored in the uncertainty (well, at least proven uncertainty) of his steroid usage and how you felt about all of that.  It’s a new year, however, and we aren’t rating just the icon, but the hitting coach who has made his confession.  It was possibly the most interesting name on the approval ballot.
McGwire wound up higher than I thought, with 64 people giving him an average score of 73.2%.  There was an outlier of 5, but the next-lowest was 20, while his high was one 100.  A lot in the 70-80 range, it looks like.
On the other hand, we have Yadier Molina.  A lot of Molina love last year, as he piled up the second-highest rating at 93.4%.  Not a lot has changed with Yadi, and this year he drops just a bit to 92.0%.  That’ll put him behind Carp this year as well (likely) behind Albert.
Cards play a split-squad schedule today.  The noon game features St. Louis playing against their complex partners, the Marlins.  Not sure who is going in that game, though it should be Chris Carpenter, I’d expect.  The game is also supposed to be on FSN, so if you are in the viewing area, you get a lunchtime treat.
Most of us would have probably rather they televised the other game, however.  This evening, 5 PM start, the Cards go over to Washington and face Stephen Strasburg again.  Not only that, but McClellan tries to hold off Garcia for that fifth slot with a strong start.  Should be a lot of interesting things out of that one!

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