We're still in February, so there's little nourishment to pull out of the final score, but everything that we hoped would go right in the St. Louis Cardinals' Tuesday win against the Red Sox did go right. Specifically: Jaime Garcia pitched two scoreless innings without his elbow catching fire, and Matt Adams hit a long pinch-hit home run after sitting out with knee soreness and ceding the first-base gig to Ryan Jackson.
Garcia, whose problems pitching on the road didn't crop up at Fort Myers's JetBlue Park, received solid Twitter reviews from Cardinals.com alum Matthew Leach—ranging from sharp to not-quite-as-sharp—and more importantly felt fine afterward; after the chewing-out he got for making his abortive last postseason start while his arm hurt I'm willing to trust him on that one, at least for the moment.
For me, at least, Garcia remains on a truly bizarre path to fanbase-redemption: So many casual fans I talk to have written him off entirely that anything he contributes in 2013 will look like a renaissance. Since he managed a strikeout-to-walk ratio over three while dealing with shoulder problems in 2012, I think there's a fair chance he contributes quite a bit.
Meanwhile, Adams continued doing what he's done for the last three years: Hit long home runs. But his injury-shortened Memphis debut and punchless St. Louis stint have led to some 2013 projections that match up with the low-OBP-slugger profile that worries Adams pessimists—.253/.299/.443 from Steamer, .261/.311/.459 from Oliver, .265/.309/.433 from ZiPS. (See also: FanGraphs, where you can compare with a characteristically sunny Bill James projection; this great comment yesterday from mattybobo re: projection systems.)
The bigger problem for Adams, though, is either his lack of positional versatility or the versatility of all the players he would replace. Because the Cardinals' starting first baseman is an outfielder, and their other MLB-ready hitting prospect is Oscar Taveras, the depth chart is more crowded than it would usually be for a guy coming off a .624 slugging percentage in AAA.
So: With all that in mind, where do you see Jaime Garcia and Matt Adams in November? Will they still be Cardinals? Will one or both be a key part of the 2014 roster?