Spring Training statistics are not meaningless. They are very close to meaningless, but they are not completely without meaning. If the manager or front office pays attention to them, then they have meaning. While they do not seem to be very predictive in terms of determining actual talent level or how a player will do in the coming year, players need to accumulate plate appearances and innings to get ready for the season. In any event, this post is not going to tell you how players have done with stats and tell you it means something because I have no idea.
This post is about some larger issues at play and how they affect the Cardinals moving forward
1. The Cardinals injury woes have carried over from last season
Jhonny Peralta being out until roughly the All-Star break is far from ideal. Shortstop talent in the Cardinals' organization and in Major League Baseball in general is not high once you get away from the elite talent. Peralta is probably one of the ten best MLB shortstops and to be without him for a while is a big blow to the Cardinals. While Yadier Molina appears to be progressing from his own thumb injury, he still cannot take plate appearances in major league games. While things look to be on the upward trend, it is a little too early to tell.
The Peralta injury leads to number two.
2. There is a bonifide battle for starter at multiple positions
With Peralta going down, and John Mozeliak not eager to pursue a trade, the shortstop position is up in the air. Since the Peralta injury, Jedd Gyorko and Aledmys Diaz have alternated starts at shortstop, indicating early on that both players have a decent shot at the starting job. Diaz and Gyorko each have something to prove, although what depends on the player. Diaz needs to show some consistency both at the plate and in the field. This is one of those situations where statistics actually matter because the team is likely to rely on them in making a determination. As for Gyorko, he has very limited time at shortstop, and needs to prove he can handle the position adequately. He was never viewed as a great glove at second base, and despite playing in more than 30 games last season, it would seem to be a bit of a stretch to think he could handle shortstop on an everyday basis. Those same questions have followed Diaz, although to a slightly lesser degree.
It was thought in the offseason, that if the Cardinals signed a big-name outfielder, Stephen Piscotty, might find himself in a battle for playing time at first base. The Cardinals have since abandoned those plans entirely, although a stealth threat has emerged in the form of Matt Holliday. There are a lot of dominoes falling every which way and first base still seems to be a battle between Brandon Moss and Matt Adams, but both hit left-handed, and if Holliday does complete the transition to first, he could allow a better defensive outfield of Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, and Stephen Piscotty to play at least against lefties. Against lefties, the offense and defense would likely be improved.
3. Pitching is moving forward
While results might have varied, every pitcher has made it through at least one appearance, save Carlos Martinez, who has "dazzled" pitching to hitters in practice. Jordan Walden has pitched and not been injured. Newcomer Seung Hwan Oh is beginning what looks to be a solid transition. At this point, statistics are not going to tell us much of anything, but the fact that, outside of Tim Cooney, no pitcher who was thought to contribute has been shut down, and even Cooney was not expected to make the roster out of camp and he is back throwing again.
We are still a little over three weeks from Opening Day and the Cardinals have suffered the biggest injury to date for any team, but overall, the team is still in pretty good shape. There will be a lot to watch in the coming weeks as health and position battles shake out.