5 St. Louis Cardinals Who Won’t Make It Through 2014 Spring Training
5 St. Louis Cardinals Who Will Not Head North
The St. Louis Cardinals appear to be primed for another great season in 2014, and leading the charge will be third-year manager Mike Matheny. Thus far, Matheny has most certainly not disappointed in filling the shoes of the legendary Tony La Russa.
The Cardinals, as all MLB fans should know, are coming off of a World Series appearance. Moreover, the Cardinals also appeared in the NLCS in 2012 and won the World Series in 2011 during La Russa’s final year as manager. To put it as simply as possible, the Cardinals have been very good in recent years. The team did not experience any difficulty surviving the departure of Albert Pujols after the 2011 season, and 2014 should be their third consecutive successful "Pujols-less season."
The Cardinals did, however, lose a rather potent bat this winter in veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran. But the team signed one of the game’s best hitting shortstops in Jhonny Peralta, and the fact that they still have players such as Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Matt “Big City” Adams and Yadier Molina should be more than enough to cushion the blow of losing Beltran.
The Cardinals' rotation is superb as well. It is fronted by Adam Wainwright who went 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA last season and finished second in the NL Cy Young voting. The rotation also features the 22-year-old phenom Michael Wacha as well as Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller who are very good pitchers in their own right. Joe Kelly and Jaime Garcia, two other very solid pitchers, will ostensibly be competing for a spot in the rotation as well.
However, as with any team, there are more than a few players who will be in the Cardinals' camp in the coming weeks but will not be fortunate enough to head north with this very good club. Without further ado, here are five Cardinals who will almost certainly not make it through Spring Training of 2014.
5. Audry Perez
Audry Perez was up very briefly with the Cardinals in 2013 and struck out in his one and only at-bat. He is on the 40-man roster, but the Cardinals already have the best catcher in baseball in Molina as well as a pretty solid backup in Tony Cruz. Perez would most likely have to catch fire this spring in order to take the backup job from Cruz.
4. Mike O'Neill
Mike O'Neill was selected by the Cardinals in the 31st round of the 2010 draft and has been stuck in their farm system ever since. He doesn't hit for much power, but he has a little speed and hits for a high average. He split time between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis in 2013 and combined for a .314 batting average. He also has an eye-popping .328 career batting average in the minor leagues. However, with the Cardinals' crowded outfield that features Craig, Holliday, Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay and Shane Robinson, it is hard to imagine O'Neill getting a job with the big league club.
3. Jorge Rondon
The soon to be 26-year-old Jorge Rondon will be in camp with the Cardinals this spring, but the Chicago Cubs may have a better chance of winning the World Series than Rondon does of heading north with the Cardinals. Rondon does, however, throw rather hard, and he is coming off of one of his better seasons in the minor leagues as he was 3-5 with a 3.06 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 67.2 innings pitched for Triple-A Memphis. However, walks continue to be a problem for him as he averaged 4.9BB per nine innings last season. Therefore, there is most likely not a place for him in the Cardinals' bullpen.
2. Oscar Taveras
Oscar Taveras is the Cardinals' top outfield prospect, and he will apparently be given a chance to compete for a starting job this spring. But don't expect the 21-year-old to be on the 2014 opening day roster. Taveras is a .320 hitter in the minor leagues, has hit as many as 23 home runs in a season down there and clearly has a very bright future ahead of him. However, as a result of his injury-shortened 2013 season, the Cardinals are most likely not going to want to thrust their future star right into the big leagues.
1. Tyler Lyons
Tyler Lyons has more big-league experience than any other player on this list, but he is not a strong candidate to make the Cardinals' opening day roster in 2014. The soon to be 26-year-old Lyons made eight starts with the Cardinals last year and was rather mediocre as he posted a 2-4 record with a 4.75 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched. Lyons simply did not pitch well enough to be a permanent member of the staff -- especially with the arms the Cardinals' rotation features. Garcia and Kelly appear to be much stronger candidates to round out the back end of the Cardinals' rotation, so look for Lyons to begin the 2014 season in the minor leagues.