As we near the last two weeks of spring training, there is still a healthy competion for at least three spots on the Cardianls' roster.
That's pretty good news. There have been no major spring busts, meanwhile several on the bubble players have stepped up -- Joe Mather, Nick Stavinoha, Adam Ottavino, Jaime Garcia to name a few.
Kyle McClellan has done well in the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation. While Rich Hill has been OK, the job would probably be in the bag for McClellan had rookie Jaime Garcia shot the lights out with his performance this spring.
Here is what I would do with the roster if it was my decision.
1. Carpenter, 2. Wainwright, 3. Lohse, 4. Penny, 5. Garcia
Garcia pitched well enough to make this team. Is there enought benefit in him going to Class AAA to justify sending him away from working with Dave Duncan, the best pitching coach in the game? By giving him the benefit of the doubt, McClellan can pitch where he is most needed, at the back end of the bullpen, most likely in the eighth inning.
6. McClellan, 7. Reyes, 8. Boggs, 9 Miller, 10. Motte 11. Franklin 12. Hawksworth
Although he has been shaky this spring, Hawksworth gets the benefit of the doubt after his performance in 2009. Of course, teams a starting to cut players about now, so that missing bullpen righty might not be in camp yet... Heck, he could be a free agent like Russ Springer. Ottavino is the biggest threat for the last bullpen job and could win it because of a his nice spring... or else it could be Josh Kinney. But Kinney has been having shoulder trouble.
Boggs hasn't been great this spring. But the Cardinals seem high on him and he would have to really stink it up to not make the opening day roster. He could be a future closer. But, for now, he would probably be that power righty you lean on to get you out of a jam.
13. Schumaker, 14. Rasmus, 15. Pujols, 16. Holliday, 17. Ludwick, 18. Freese, 19. Molina, 20. Ryan
21. Lopez, 22. LaRue, 23. Craig, 24. Lugo, 25. Mather
How can Craig be denied? He's done everything and more the club asked of him in the spring. If Lopez starts most of the time, Craig is your best power option off the bench. He's not much of a defender. But he could provide at least Troy Glaus quality defense on the infield and would be better than Chris Duncan in the outfield... In other words, he's certainly passable. Mather gets the nod for the last bench spot based on versatility. He's the only guy on the roster besides Skip Schumaker who could back up in centerfield. And the Cardinals are unlikely to move Schu around too much because he is still trying to settle in at second base.