It’s amazing that some folks are already fretting about the state of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Their concerns are based on the team’s uneven performance in less than a handful of early spring training games including a game against a squad from a small college.
Some have already even complained about manager Mike Matheny, griping that he’s using bush leaguers and playing MLB contributors outside of their regular roles, contributing to the ineffectiveness of both players and the team as a whole.
Let’s get a grip people. Although this is the way spring training typically works, maybe some aren’t familiar with it because in the past we were lucky to see many spring games on television, much less games during the first week.
The beginning of the Grapefruit League season is typically filled with younger prospects who get a chance to show what they can do before the more serious business of getting MLB players up to game speed happens in the second half of camp.
Matheny isn’t taking at-bats and innings away from big boys. He’s being careful not to get them hurt before their bodies are acclimated to the stress of playing every day.
Throw out the erratic performance of Trevor Rosenthal Sunday. It’s no surprise to see a pitcher be wild at the beginning of March as he tried to re-establish his mechanics after a long winter.
Many times, in spring training, pitchers try out new grips and experimental pitches. They’ll work on them in games, regardless of circumstances. If a pitcher is trying out a new change up, he might throw it five times in a row to get a feel for it. He wouldn’t do that if his main goal was getting out of a two-on, two-out situation in July. But he would in a exhibition game. It might get pounded. So what?
One thing is certain. Rosenthal was not wild because he pitched in the third inning instead of the ninth. If you caught his post-game interview, Rosey said that he was glad to pitch in the third -- when the opposition still had some of its big league hitters in the game -- as opposed to later when the other team would have a lineup populated by Class AA players.
Early spring training baseball bears little resemblance to what this team is going to look like two or three weeks from now. Frankly, I don’t care if the Cardinals lose every game as long as they’re getting their work in.
Play in early March is going to be sloppy. The big stars are going to make brief appearances and -- perhaps most frustrating to some -- the manager isn’t going to do a thing in regard to actually trying to win games.
This isn’t about wins and losses. It’s about reps and timing.
So enjoy that fact that baseball is being played -- just for the love of the game. Besides the rebirth of spring and looking forward to a new summer of America’s pastime, on of the great things about March baseball is that the games don’t count. No one needs to go home from the ballpark upset that the manager should have done this and didn’t do that.
I’ll be as upset as anyone else if the Cardinals are losing lopsided games and using their closer in the first third of the game in April, May and June.
But, right now, I am just happy to hear the pop of the glove and the crack of the bat. Because I know that it’s now only a matter of less than a month before baseball will be back in business at Busch Stadium.