couple of items buried in goold's long postgame edition of Bird Land. first of all, the cardinals released several players yesterday, including quadruple A outfielder miguel negron. you might recall negron's name came up in a question for jeff luhnow about the logjam in memphis' outfield; his ouster helps further to clarify that picture, and it's yet another hint about how the organization is allocating opportunities. here's a status report:
quadruple A guys
eli marrero: converted back to catcher
ryan ludwick: memphis bound
john rodriguez: memphis bound (my opinion only --- discussion below)
skip schumaker: cards' opening-day roster (discussion below)
up from double A
reid gorecki: memphis bound
cody haerther: on the dl, then back to springfield
nick stavinoha: making a case for memphis
miguel negron: released
rick ankiel: memphis bound
amaury marti: i dunno
discussion: with encarnacion opening the season on the DL, either j-rod or schumaker will make the opening-day cut --- and it appears that schumaker has won that spot. j-rod has been nearly invisible in recent games, while schumaker is appearing daily; schumaker is hitting .400, plays better defense than any st louis outfielder except edmonds, and is liked by the manager. j-rod's only chance to stick appears tied to an unlikely, but not impossible, development: the release of so taguchi. so-so is now tied for 2d (at best) with schumaker on the centerfield depth chart, and he's no better than 3d at the corners (preston wilson and scott spiezio apparently are the main backups). on a five-man bench, i don't see what dimension he adds.
to return to the memphis outfield: assuming taguchi gets the benefit of the doubt, i reckon the AAA will start ludwick in left, gorecki in center, and ankiel in right, with rodriguez and stavinoha on the bench. that'd leave rasmus, jay, haerther, marti, and joe mather for the double A outfield; sounds about right. when encarnacion returns from the dl and an outfielder has to move . . . . . well, let's worry about that one later.
the other piece of news from yesterday's Bird Land: brian falkenborg threw 2 innings in memphis' spring training game. which means, i surmise, he has accepted his assignment to triple A. that's good news, imho; the st louis bullpen might need some innings from him at some point. the top relief options at memphis will probably be falkenborg, dove, and jimenez, with cavazos behind them and mark worrell an emergencies-only option. as long as we're projecting triple A rosters, the pitching staff down there is getting pretty crowded; keisler narveson and hawksworth seem like locks for the rotation, and chris lambert almost surely has the 4th slot. that leaves troy cate, mike parisi, matt ginter, and mike smith to battle it out for the 5th and final slot. i gotta think cate has the inside track there, but parisi also has a case; he reportedly has looked pretty strong this spring. i'd be fine with either of those options --- both players are on the 40-man and might have a future. ginter has no future, but he does not appear to be an entirely lost cause (career stats here); one can imagine him turning in a josh hancock-like season or two, if things go well. mike smith --- lost cause.
one other piece of bullpen news: the cards dodged the bullet with jorge julio, who got traded yesterday to the marlins. according to ken rosenthal, the cardinals and marlins had been the leading suitors. close call; i'm glad he wound up elsewhere.
- it's not looking good for kerry wood. all three of the most dominant nl central pitchers of this decade, arguably, turned out just to be bright flashes in the pan: rick ankiel, kerry wood, and mark prior.
- john thomson failed to make the blue jays' roster. during the winter i had thought thomson looked like an attractive low-cost option; but when the mariners withdrew their contract offer to him and he landed nothing better than a six-figure deal, it was pretty clear the guy's health was a huge question mark. the cardinals (and other teams) obviously had good dope on the guy; his shoulder's not sound. on the other hand, tomo ohka --- another low-renter in the blue jays' camp --- has pitched his way into the rotation with a strong spring. he's inked to a $1.5m base, with another $750K due if he makes 30 starts.
- blowhard pitcher, meet blowhard sportswriter.
- Baseball Reference.com is looking for bloggers; good opportunity, could be loads of fun.
- tangotiger is running a massive community projection project; i meant to link to this a few weeks ago, but it slipped through the cracks. tango's fan scouting reports of fielding have worked their way into the zeitgeist as a viable alternative to objective defensive measuring systems like UZR and dewan; likewise, his community forecasts will pit the wisdom of the crowds against the number-crunching power of PECOTA and ZIPS and so forth. here's the cardinals' page.
- i got a note from geoff young of Ducksnorts, the outstanding padres blog; he's put out the 2007 Ducksnorts Baseball Annual, which you can buy in paperback or electronic versions. sandy alderson wrote the foreword. i haven't seen the book yet, but i've gotten familiar with Ducksnorts over the last two years because the cards keep playing the padres in the nlds, and i know geoff's a great writer and analyst, a regular at Hardball Times. here's a review and an interview with the author.