We’re live from the media room at Winter Warm Up 2013. Stay tuned here, as we will be live blogging with stories, quotes, and hopefully audio throughout the day, as fast as we can type after the players leave the podium.
9:31 am – Matt Holliday
Bouncing Back for 2013
Matt Holliday finished the 2012 season in a painful way. Holliday was hampered by a bad back that compromised him, and subsequently the Cardinals offense. However, Holliday remains confident for 2013.
“I feel pretty good about (2013),” said Holliday, “we’ve got a ton of talent.”
The talent alone isn’t what Holliday feels good about for the 2013 Cardinals, but the coaching staff, also. Holliday has worked closely with former hitting coach Mark McGwire since 2008, even pre-dating his time with the Cardinals, but he feels replacement John Mabry is “prepared,” and “going to do a great job.”
Holliday was forced to miss playoff games (back injury) in each of the Cardinals’ playoff runs over the past two seasons, which has led to some thought that he needs more time off over the course of the regular season in 2013. The less is more approach, if you will. Holliday rebuffed any notion that he needed more time off, despite a second-half decline in performance during 2011 and 2012.
“If I can play, I’m going to tell (Matheny) I can play,” said Holliday.
Even if Holliday is only “close to one-hundred percent,” as he said, he wants to play. Time will tell if the club agrees to his bullish approach.
9:45 am – Jaime Garcia
Health and the WBC
Last month, it was announced that Jaime Garcia had agreed to participate in the World Baseball Classic for Mexico this March. Garcia confirmed today that his agent had agreed, but when they contacted the left-hander last week, he declined.
“It’s not the time,” said Garcia, who is focussed on preparing for his 2013 season in St. Louis.
After leaving his NLDS Game 2 start early due to nagging shoulder sprain, how much of a season Garcia has remains to be seen. Speaking with reporters Saturday morning, Garcia declined multiple times to say he felt, or will feel, “normal.”
Click here to listen to Garcia’s full media session.
11:00 am – John Mozeliak
All that Pitching
The Cardinals have had a quiet offseason. General Manager John Mozeliak referenced depth as the reason for the silence. The focus has been on answering roster questions internally, rather than spend resources to resolve them externally.
“That’s really our model,” said Mozeliak.
The greatest source of the Cardinals’ depth comes from its pitching. Widely considered the deepest pocket of right-handed pitching talent in the industry, the firm of Rosenthal, Kelly & Miller have become the answer to any potential injuries in 2013. In fact, perhaps its too much depth.
“If everybody broke healthy, we’d have a hard time getting everybody on this roster,” said Mozeliak.
With a stable of Wainwright, Carpenter, Westbrook, and hopefully Garcia, that leaves all but one spot left to be one via competition. Mozeliak penned Lance Lynn as the front-runner to win the fifth spot. Saying as much as “its (Lynn)’s to lose.”
St. Louis’ surplus of power arms isn’t just an internal insurance policy, it’s a valued asset around the league. Mozeliak toyed with the idea of moving some of their surplus to fill a need, or an area of lesser depth, perhaps middle infield.
“We kicked the tires on a few things,” said Mozeliak, but the general manager conceded it was “never anything serious,” and it was more of an effort to “feel for how (team’s) value them.”
The hesitancy to move even one of their pitching prospects proves a sentiment that every front office shares: there’s no such thing as too much pitching.
On the position player side, prospect’s Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong highlight the Cardinals heralded farm-system. The organization is excited to see them up close and personal this spring.
Taveras and Wong
“Every level (Taveras) has been at he’s basically been named the player of the year,” Mozeliak said speaking of Taveras, noting that “he’s probably going to get a lot of opportunities.”
Mozeliak noted he would prefer to keep both prospects in the minors playing everyday. For position players, its vital that players who have started everyday at every level they have ever played at continue to see consisting playing time. Different from pitchers who can follow “the Wainwright model,” as Mozeliak referenced.
On the chance of both Taveras and Wong making the big league roster in April, Mozeliak deemed it “not likely.”
“There would have to be a lot of bad things happen,” he said. Read: injuries.
Injuries are what kept the 2012 Cardinals from performing up to their talent level during the regular season. Injuries will remain the most paramount determinant of fulfilling expectations in 2013. Again.
11:30 am – Chris Carpenter
Returning from Injury
Chris Carpenter’s improbable 2012 comeback from what was thought to be season-ending surgery surprised everyone. Except for Chris Carpenter. However, Carpenter’s wasn’t even satisfied with just coming back and participating. After understandably average results in his injury-shortened 2012, he “isn’t making any excuses,” as he told reporters late Saturday morning.
So eager to make up for time lost in the previous year, Carpenter started his throwing program a month early this offseason.
Cardinal fans, along with the ace, are eager to see if ‘Vintage Carp’ will return.
The Young Arms
As one of the few remaining pieces from the Cardinals 2006 World Series Championship team, Carpenter accepts a major leadership role amongst the Cardinal clubhouse. His experience in the league doesn’t just help him as he faces team’s and hitter’s he’s faced before, it aides the next crop of Cardinal starters going forward, also. With the likes of Rosenthal, Kelly, Miller all coming to a Cardinal team near you soon, Carpenter has taking ownership of helping develop the youngsters as they look to him for advice.
“These guys have great attitudes, great work ethics,” said Carpenter, and “to be able to know you had an impact, and seeing some of these kids develop into what a St. Louis Cardinal is supposed to be, its exciting.”