Feldman: Cardinals have some very tough decisions ahead of them

Feldman: Cardinals have some very tough decisions ahead of them

Credit: Getty Images

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Shelby Miller #40 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 19, 2013 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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by Brian Feldman, BaseballSTL

BaseballSTL

Posted on March 10, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 5:02 PM

JUPITER Fla. (BaseballSTL) -- They say these are good problems to have.  And, sure, when you look at it from that perspective it is.
 
But, man, they are still problems.
 
Having several guys in camp who have proven themselves as more than capable of making the major league team, yet only having room for a couple of them?  Telling someone who's been absolutely filthy that they have to go to the minors?
 
I don't think that's anyone's idea of fun.  Unless, that is, if you're a terrible person who takes pride in other people's misery.  Manager Mike Matheny says no conversation is fun, regardless if it's a veteran or if it's someone in his first big league camp.  But he also says they're not close to doing anything just yet.
 
"We've got a lot of spring left. That's not to say guys having really really good springs aren't going to make this club," said Matheny.  "We've got a lot of things left to do."
 
The Cardinals have some outrageously hard decisions to make here.  On the pitching side, with 10 guys slated for spots either in the rotation or bullpen that leaves only two left.  One to start, one to relieve.  So between Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez, a couple of them will be in a pretty uncomfortable meeting with Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak at the end of the month.
 
Why uncomfortable?  Well, Kelly filled in last year in the starting rotation and compiled an impressive 3.53 ERA in 107 innings during the regular season before bearing down for a 2.35 ERA in 7 and two-thirds innings in the playoffs.  Matheny is on record as saying that carries a ton of weight.
 
Miller?  He's only the organization's most hyped pitching prospect who came on strong last year in the second half last year to blank the Reds on the regular season's final day for six innings.  He's looked really good this spring, too, despite ordinary looking numbers (five innings, three runs allowed in two appearances).  The ball has a lot more life to it compared to last spring.  Miller's drawn high praise from the organization for his maturity.
 
Salas is a proven big league guy (3.23 ERA in 164 and a third innings) who's coming off a down 2012.  Needing to come in and reestablish himself this spring, the 27-year old has done just that.  He threw three terrific innings (surrendering just one hit and one run while striking out two) before leaving for the World Baseball Classic.  By all accounts, Salas has been excellent overall this spring.
 
Then there's Sanchez, the 24-year old flamethrower who was actually the Cards closer for a portion of the 2011 season.  He really lost his way last year (13 walks in 15 innings before getting banished to AAA-Memphis) but has bounced back big time this spring.  Sanchez has arguably been as impressive in Jupiter as any pitcher on the roster.  He has thrown five and a third innings, giving up just three hits (one run) while striking out seven.  Most importantly, Sanchez is yet to walk a single batter.  Not one.  Don't forget, too, he's got one of the best arms in camp.
 
And that's just the pitching side of things.
 
So, you see, it's better to be in this situation where you're cutting major league talent from your roster than on the other end of the spectrum where you're forced to keep guys who have no business being in the big leagues.
 
It's a good problem to have, I admit.
 
But, man, it's still a problem.

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