A week from now, we'll look back on all this and still find it a terrifically dull week. For what it's worth, I belong to that pseudo-traditionalist club that would like MLB to pick a day, already—April 1?—and stick to it, thus turning opening day into Opening Day, a cultural holiday for which I am not just justified but obligated to wake up late and watch TV all day, preferably with the windows open.
Meanwhile, Spring Training grinds on. Your notes:
Chris Carpenter Watch: Thus ends Carpenter's Grapefruit League season, not with a bang, thank goodness. I'm not putting too much stock into how well he pitched, because there are already too many ways to be disappointed by Carp's start to invite more of them, but—and here is where we must creep superstitiously around what we want to say—so far, at this very moment, barring future updates to the contrary, knocking on wood, his arm is intact, capable of throwing upwards of 100 baseballs every few days.
So as to distract the baseball gods from that bit of bridled optimism, I should note that he also looked excellent in Spring, 2007. . .
The very end of the roster is the subject at the P-D this morning. When it comes down to Thurston or Barden or Ryan I'm sure La Russa et al will be able to give you perfectly rational explanations for the choices they end up making, but the three are so evenly handicapped—Ryan presumably making up in de facto incumbence what he lacks in, well, ability to hit—that subjective impressions will probably end up as important as anything else when it comes down to the final cut. Honestly, I'd be surprised if Barden made the team out of Spring Training, but I'd also be surprised if whichever utility infielder(s) break camp with the club remain in the role all year.
Discarded lefty Tyler Johnson is apparently the only LOOGY for which the Mariners have eyes. Dumping Johnson was one of those moves that just can't be understood in a strictly baseball context; his stuff was distinctly overqualified for specialist work, he had already spent an entire year on the roster without even picking up a baseball, and as the Cardinals' subsequent flirtation with every free agent left-hander proved there was simply no other internal plan in place to replace him.
Which brings me to a possible discussion topic for today. We know what's happening a week from now: much rejoicing, much shirking of duty, much gnashing of teeth if they drop the opener. But what's going to be happening a month from now? My pick, be it ever so humble, is this: Trever Miller has early issues, leading to a reconsideration of that gaggle of lefties currently fighting for spots in Memphis.
Finally, I have no idea what to make of this. Rick Ankiel prepares to make his most difficult transition yet—from pitching super-prospect to slugging outfielder to pipe-smoking fifties father figure:
About to turn 30 this year, planning to start a family, and on the brink of free agency's windfall, Ankiel sees contentment where others see quiet. There is only one thing he's thinking about changing.
Ankiel has been preoccupied recently about when it is age appropriate for him to shorten his given name, Richard, to "Dick" instead of "Rick." Some friends and clubhouse denizens have already taken to calling him "Dick" this spring. He calls it an instant "ice-breaker."
That Dick Ankiel, always redefining himself.
Call him Rick. Call him Dick.
Call him a Cardinal.
I've always been sad to see the name of one of my favorite Nick at Nite sitcoms—when I was eight I wanted to be Morey Amsterdam—so besmirched, so I admire his tenacity in going after a name that, well, currently warrants a blurb in a newspaper article. But I'm not sure becoming an outfielder is adequate preparation when one is trying to reclaim Dick for non-phalluses.