It wasn’t necessarily intentional. But I still haven’t turned my television back to FOX, meaning I have yet to watch even one pitch of the World Series. Maybe this weekend, now that the games will be in Detroit. But for Games One and Two, just the thought of seeing that ballpark, those fans, all that orange kept me away. I saw more than enough Sunday and Monday.
In addition, I didn’t read much about the Cardinals this week. (Or write anything, in case you hadn’t noticed.) That wasn’t necessarily intentional either. But I just couldn’t.
However, John Mozeliak meeting the media yesterday has me interested again. In particular, the talk about next season has me looking forward to what’s ahead. There’s plenty to look forward to — a lot came out of that conversation.
Such as who will not be returning, in all likelihood. Unlike last year, when there was plenty of Cardinals eligible for free agency (including, obviously, That One Guy Who Used To Play First Base), this year there are only two: Lance Berkman and Kyle Lohse. And it’s no surprise to any of us that neither really fits into the Cardinals future plans, right? We knew that every post-season start Lohse made was an audition for a long-term contract elsewhere. Which is fine, given all the young and very talented pitchers the Cardinals have to fill that rotation spot.
At least Mo was nice in the way he basically said “thanks but no thanks” about K-Lo returning:
“Kyle had just a brilliant year for us,” Mozeliak said. “I suspect the free-agent market would treat him very kindly. You can see the depth that we have coming. [Pursuing Lohse] is not something I’m prepared to rule out today, but I would say it’s unlikely at this time.”
Then there’s LB, and we all knew this was coming too. Remember his surprise at-bat in the final regular season game? Still, though his Cardinals career was in all likelihood short, he certainly more than charmed us last year — and he became a World Series champion. Win-win for everybody.
Mo also addressed two health issues that impacted the team in October: Rafael Furcal’s elbow and Jaime Garcia’s shoulder. Neither is expected to have surgery. Is this necessarily a good thing when it comes to Jaime, though?
The Cardinals, while pleased that Garcia should be able to avoid an invasive procedure, are aware that there is no guarantee the issue doesn’t arise again next year. The club does feel confident about the number of internal options available should Garcia not be ready to begin the season in the rotation.
“Clearly, we’re going to go into Spring Training holding our breath a little bit with regard to him,” Mozeliak said. “But he’s progressing right now in his rehab. He’s feeling good about that, which is encouraging. But until you really have to ramp it up and put yourself on the mound, it’s hard to know for sure.”
“Holding our breath a little bit” doesn’t sound like the safest route to go … but maybe that’s just me.
Of course, there’s also the sentence right before that, with the club feeling “confidence about the number of internal options available” if Jaime is not able to start next season or ultimately needs surgery.
Never, in my 40 years covering this team, have I been so entranced by the number of good arms the Cardinals have as potential starters. Most of those plus-90s spent the postseason in the bullpen, with Lance Lynn emerging for two starts, but the Cardinals never have had as many hard throwers as they have now, with righthanders Lynn, Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly, and Carlos Martinez lurking in the minors.
Then there is Trevor Rosenthal, who is the first Cardinal in my memory to hit 100 miles an hour consistently. Rosenthal also seems to have a working knowledge of a breaking ball but, for my money, I don’t want to see somebody throwing 100 mph pitching two innings out of the bullpen. He seems ready for much more and is the most exciting young pitcher to come along here since Rick Ankiel, with Alan Benes and Matt Morris before that. But none of those could throw 100 miles an hour, and you see how interested the San Francisco and Washington hitters were about facing that kind of heat.
High praise from a Hall of Fame writer.
Then there was this from Mo about two other top prospects:
The fifth-year GM referred to outfield prospect Oscar Taveras as “the most prolific hitter I’ve seen in this organization since probably Albert” Pujols and said that second base prospect Kolten Wong would compete for playing time next spring as well … Mozeliak said he believed it likely the 20-year-old Taveras would appear with the parent club at some point in 2013. Mozeliak described Taveras as “an unbelievable hitter.”
And the talk about second base was definitely interesting, as Joe Strauss reported:
An anticipated crush at second base should include Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma, Wong and potentially Matt Carpenter, who will use this winter to add a fifth position to his repertoire. The glut argues against veteran Skip Schumaker, the starter at the position for more than two seasons, receiving significant time there.
“It’s hard to imagine him getting a ton of playing time there with what we know we have and what we have coming,” Mozeliak said.
Schumaker’s role on the club would appear further pinched with Jay, Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran forming an everyday outfield. Mozeliak made clear he would seek to bolster a bench that represented a weak link in October.
Matt Carpenter at second? Hmmm. And Skip out of the mix everywhere, it seems. Hmmm again. Very interesting.
Still, overall, so much to be excited about already when it comes to next year. And I’m not the only who thinks so. Here’s the end of Rick Hummel’s piece from yesterday:
What I learned about the Cardinals this year is that, despite being outscored 20-1 in the final three games of the league championship series, they easily should be playoff contenders, if not more, next year.
With Beltran, Carpenter, Furcal, Jake Westbrook and perhaps Wainwright in their last hurrahs here, and with young fireballing arms, of which you never can have enough, the 2013 season intrigues me more than any I’ve experienced since I’ve been here.
Is it February yet?
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.