It was a little bit surprising to see Joe Mather get the short straw when it came to the final spot on the Cardinals roster.
Mather, who became the favorite to start at third base when David Freese was slowed by an ankle injury early in spring training, was victimized by a slump at the wrong time. Meanwhile, middle infielders Joe Thurston and Brian Barden made the jump from journeymen minor leaguers to the big show with hot spring bats.
The Cardinals chose to keep outfield prospect Colby Rasmus and defensively challenged flychaser Chris Duncan -- both lefties -- instead of having the versatility of Mather, who bats right and can play the outfield corners.
I wonder, with the extra middle infield gloves, if Skip Schumaker will be pressed into service as a defensive replacement in the outfield when the games start to count.
Schumaker played almost exclusively at second base in spring training. But it will be hard to imagine Duncan in left field in a one run game in the ninth inning. And Rasmus, who played all three outfield spots in the spring, seemed to have trouble adapting from his traditional position of centerfield. He took some bad routes on balls and allowed a couple that he probably should have caught to get over his head.
Looking at this roster, populated with pop guns and career minor leaguers at the bottom end, i still wonder why the Cardinals seemingly have no interest in Gary Sheffield at least as a bench player. For the major league minimum you could do a lot worse...