Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Training Report: St. Louis Blues

The question of who will open the season as the St. Louis Cardinals closer just got a lot murkier (if that's possible) with the announcement that front-runner Chris Perez will be shut down with shoulder discomfort. Tony LaRussa has not named a closer as of yet and it is not that far-fetched to see him employing a closer-by-committee approach. The other names in the mix for saves include Jason Motte, Ryan Franklin, Josh Kinney and Kyle McClellan with Motte seemingly in the lead at this point. Elsewhere around major league camps:

  • Joe Torre says that Hideki Kuroda will be the Dodgers Opening Day starter. He will be followed in the rotation by Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw. Torre has yet to name his No. 5 starter.
  • Time to scratch SP Shawn Hill off your cheat sheets. The Washington Nationals released the promising but chronically injured pitcher yesterday. Someone else will probably sign him and give him a look, but the chances of him having any value this season are very slim.
  • Marlon Byrd's big spring means that Andruw Jones' chances of making the Texas Rangers out of camp are slipping away.
  • Hideki Matsui will be restricted to DH duties until June. This could be a problem for the Yankees and manager Joe Girardi. Jorge Posada is coming back from shoulder surgery and won't be able to catch everyday. LF Johnny Damon also seemed slated for DH duty at least once a week to help keep his legs fresh. So it looks that Matsui will be sitting at least once a week and with that his overall numbers will take a hit. Adjust your values accordingly.
  • Carlos Villanueva. That is a name you are likely to hear called out late in a lot of drafts after today. Closer Trevor Hoffman strained a rib cage muscle over the weekend and might miss the beginning of the season. In case you forgot, Hoffman is 41 years old. Villaneuva struggled as a starter last year but flourished once moved to the pen. Before Hoffman was signed manager Ken Macha mentioned that Villeneuva was first in line for closer duties, so likely he is the Brewers Plan B.
  • No real surprise, but the Jose Reyes will bat third experiment has likely been scrapped.
  • Not that you were likely looking to draft the Pirates 4th or 5th starter this year, but it is still worth noting that Tom Gorzelanny has been demoted and former Yankee Ross Ohlendorf has firmly grabbed the 4th spot.

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