Now that your picture's in the paper, being rhythmically admired . . . . - Chris Trotman
Today, Jake Westbrook leads the Cardinals against the Marlins. Jeff Loria is preparing, as a precaution, a full page ad for tomorrow's Miami Herald entitled, "So What? We Lost a Spring Training Game, You Ungrateful Bastards! Have You Ever Considered How Hard It Is to Be Me?!?"
Veteran starter Jake Westbrook makes his first appearance in today's game, which will make him the last of the returning starters to debut. Wainwright, Lynn, and Garcia have already appeared. Carpenter is lost to the DL, and Kyle Lohse is still looking for a contract.
Next Big Thing Trevor Rosenthal will try to bounce back from a bad outing, in which many commentators saw him overthrowing -- which, when you start from a position of throwing 98-100 MPH as your baseline, is kind of scary sounding.
The very (very, very) early buzz from camp is that the wealth of young talent really does look about as good as it could in the space of a week of spring training. And the prettiest girl at the party is Michael Wacha. Yadier Molina declared he was ready to pitch in the majors. Keith Hernandez, broadcasting for the Mets, expressed his excitement. Pretty much everybody was visibly salivating about Wacha's impressive performance [in two games, across five innings, in spring training].
Even dousing the enthusiasm with the appropriate level of cold water, Wacha's sharp performance and his management of three plus pitches is boosting his stock a lot. With sharp competition, I wouldn't bet any money that he'll fight his way into a big league role, but I think the ceiling on the cast of Wacha, Miller, Rosenthal, and Martinez is so high that you could hardly discount any possibility.
Uberprospect Oscar Taveras is being widely discussed as a candidate for best prospect in baseball, though no prominent publication has named him number one. Yet.
Kolten Wong has also garnered praise in his short spring training appearances. Of particular note, his defense - which, at the time of his drafting, was considered suspect - has come in for particular praise.
Shelby Miller missed a start in the first week with a twingy shoulder, but he appears to have pitched a side session without pain. Jaime Garcia likewise pitched competently despite last year's serious shoulder impingement.
Even stuff we have no right to expect to work out in our favor is going pretty well. No parts of Allen Craig and David Freese appear to not be attached to the places where they should be attached. Formerly injured Matt Adams has gone 5 for 9, with a walk no less. The Carpenter2second experiment has gotten the ringing endorsement of "not as bad as Skip Schumaker."
The only really ugly news on the health end (so far) has been the apparently career-ending return of peripheral neurological symptoms for Chris Carpenter, and the suspiciously serious-sounding pain in Rafael Furcal's elbow.
I find it hard to get too worked up about Furcal's injury. His projected value at shortstop (1.5 wins, by ZiPS, with comparable numbers from everybody else) barely outstrips Ryan Jackson (0.9) or Greg Garcia (1.2). Also, I've been mentally preparing myself for Furcal's unavailability all winter.
I still have faith in Pete Kozma's regression to mediocrity, but the superstitious bits of me confess to a little self-doubt after Kozma hit A HOME RUN the other day. Of course, Pete and Ronny Cedeno will probably have first dibs on playing time at shortstop if Furcal cannot return effectively from his elbow injury. Cedeno, for his part, showed that he knew how to win the reluctant hearts of VEBers everywhere by appearing in high socks! Personally, I suggest he try the hitting home runs part, but the socks are a nice touch.
In other news, Ty Wigginton has gone 0-10 so far, and all is (mostly) right with the world.