I'm out of town for the next two days, so I'll be brief, but one day in we already seem to have some Spring Training storylines penciled in—
- Four members of the St. Louis media out of five think La Russa's implicit endorsement for Kyle McClellan as the fifth starter will win out, and given the way the Schumaker story blossomed from idle speculation into Damn-the-Kennedies-full-speed-ahead. I'm not sure he won't be the best pick—he hasn't had a shoulder surgery in the last year, which vaults him ahead of Rich Hill—but I'm worried still that it's a misallocation of resources, depending on how much better they're convinced he'll be than Garcia (or Hill, if he proves intact.) Even if Jason Motte has turned into a Pitcher-Not-a-Thrower—oh, sorry, that's my next bullet point.
- Jason Motte. It might just because I'm watching Plan 9 from Outer Space right now, but this is what I'd imagine a Dave Duncan zombie to say, in between gurgles: "Keep it down. Good pitches are those that are down." It's more interesting to hear that he's narrowing down his breaking pitches as we speak. Neither the cutter nor the unrelated "curve/slider" seem new, but better to work on them now than last July.
- Mark McGwire, Mark McGwire, Mark McGwire. There's so little left to say about this that I'm sorry it's all I'll hear in national coverage about the Cardinals' spring activities. Personally, I was glad he stuck to his opinions about the way steroids changed his career—he doesn't owe a deeper bow to anyone, be it talk radio callers, ESPN analysts, or the Joe Jackson say-it-ain't-so newsboy. Of course, if dinger camp does not come off as planned I might think differently.
- Finally, is third base going to become a story? I hope it isn't, for my own sake—I was brought back to do the player capsules for this year's Maple Street Press annual (as well as a long piece about the moments in Cardinals history that led up to Matt Holliday taking one in the... for the team), and now that the final text is at the printers I'd hate to have another Adam Kennedy situation. But so far it seems like every St. Louis Cardinal and Memphis Redbird invited to Major League camp has his eye on the position, up to and including Undead Nick Stavinoha, who would be interesting as an emergency third baseman-left fielder-first baseman-catcher if teams had thirty-man rosters or could resist bringing seven relievers north.
- In the end I think it's Freese's for the duration, for the same reason McClellan might have a tough time breaking camp as a starter—Joe Mather might end up the right-handed centerfielder the Cardinals need on the bench, and Tyler Greene is the only backup shortstop who should be allowed to play shortstop, but Freese is only valuable if he's starting at third base. If Mather hits well enough to win the job, the Cardinals might not be in a position to give it to him.