The Cardinals sent six more players to their minor league camp, bringing the Opening Day roster just a little bit more into focus. There really remains only a couple of spots to be settled over the next 13 days, one on the pitching staff and likely one among the position players.
By all accounts, the following players are definitely in:
Starting Pitchers - Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Brad Penny, Kyle Lohse
Bullpen - Ryan Franklin, Trever Miller, Dennys Reyes, Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Blake Hawksworth
Kyle McClellan is also in, either as a starter or a reliever.
Catchers - Yadier Molina & Jason LaRue
Infield - Albert Pujols, Skip Schumaker, Brendan Ryan, David Freese, Felipe Lopez and Julio Lugo
Outfield - Matt Holliday, Ryan Ludwick, Colby Rasmus, Joe Mather
That is 23 players all but confirmed for the final roster. The remaining positions shake out like this:
The final pitching spot is likely to be either Jaime Garcia or Adam Ottavino. If the Cards decide on Garcia as the 5th starter, then Kyle McClellan will go to the 'pen. If McClellan is named the 5th starter, then the final bullpen spot will likely go to Ottavino. Rich Hill is still in camp and has an outside shot at the 5th starter position as well. It's highly unlikely that Hill will be in the bullpen, although that remains a possibility. There is no way Garcia will come out of the bullpen. He'll either be a starter or will go back to Memphis.
It'd be nice to see the Cards first round pick from 2006, Ottavino, make it onto the final roster. Personally though, I'd rather see Garcia as the 5th starter and McClellan in the bullpen. Shaky performances this Spring by Franklin, Motte and Boggs leave me very worried about the right side of the 'pen. McClellan could only help strengthen that, and at this point he has the experience advantage over Ottavino.
For the final position player, it looks to be a battle between Allen Craig and Nick Stavinoha, both of whom have had very nice Springs with the bat. For a while, it looked like a three man battle with these two and Joe Mather for two spots, but Mather's ability to play centerfield probably sets him apart.
I really like the possibilities that Craig's bat could add to the lineup. He probably represents a greater upside than Stavinoha. I'd like to see Craig make the team so the Cards can see what they have at the major league level with him. If he proves to be a legitimate every day major leaguer, it could definitely change what the Cards may do down the road with players like Ludwick or Freese.
These scenarios leave Jon Jay, Shane Robinson and Tyler Greene on the outside looking in. Of course there is always the possibility of a late-spring trade that could change the bench picture or the pitching staff, but time will tell on that.