The Cardinals are looking to build on their 100-win 2015 campaign that was ended in the NLDS by the Chicago Cubs. St. Louis knew they had to upgrade their bench in the offseason, which was a glaring weakness in 2015. In early December, the team acquired infielder Jedd Gyorko (pronounced Jerk-O) from the San Diego Padres in exchange for outfielder Jon Jay. Gyorko will be a backup infielder and provide some of the much needed “thump” on the bench along with Brandon Moss and/or Matt Adams.
When Jhonny Peralta went down with a ligament tear in his thumb a couple of weeks ago, and is excepted to miss 10-12 weeks, the organization picked up shortstop Ruben Tejada, who was released by the Mets a day or two prior to Peralta’s injury. However, Tejada was placed on the DL after today’s game with a left quad strain so Gyorko will probably get the nod at shortstop until he (Tejada) comes back.
Along with the injuries of Tejada and Peralta, Lance Lynn will be on the shelf for the entire 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery in November of 2015, which ultimately led to the signing of Mike Leake, reliever Mitch Harris is out for at least two (2) weeks with right arm compression syndrome according to MLB.com and lastly there’s Jordan Walden who only pitched in 12 games last season before being shut down with right shoulder discomfort, is once again experiencing shoulder discomfort (tightness) and is not even on the Opening Day roster.
The Bright Side
Following the injuries of Tejada and Walden, the Cardinals informed outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker (.304 average in Spring) and pitcher Matt Bowman (Rule 5 pick, 7.00 ERA in 9 innings) that they had made the roster. It will be interesting to see what they bring to the team during the season.
With the departures of Jason Heyward and John Lackey, both signing with the Cubs in the offseason, St. Louis knew improvements needed to happen and money needed to be spent if they were going to compete in 2016. After sending Jon Jay to San Diego and parting ways with Peter Bourjos, the Cardinals outfield is relatively young especially since Matt Holliday has converted to first base in an effort to extend his career. Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Tommy Pham and Brandon Moss will share the outfield duties in 2016. Mike Leake signed for 5 years and 80 million to take Lance Lynn’s spot in the rotation. Brayan Pena takes over as Yadier Molina’s backup after Tony Cruz was traded to Kansas City and Seung Hwan Oh coming from South Korea will bolster the bullpen.
The team looks good on paper but can they repeat as Division Champions? Well, honestly probably not because the Cubs will be extremely tough and as much as it hurts me to say this, they will probably win the Central with St. Louis not far behind.
Chicago : 98-64
St. Louis: 94-68
Reliever Jonathan Broxton signed a 2 year deal in the offseason to remain with the club.