JUPITER, Fla. (KMOV) – The Cardinals made more roster cuts yesterday afternoon, optioning catcher Matt Pagnozzi to triple-A Memphis, and reassigning pitchers Pete Parise, Fernando Salas, Oneli Perez, and Eduardo Sanchez to minor league camp. Ruben Gotay, who was signed to a minor league contract in the off-season, will also join minor league camp today.
With the roster cuts, the Cardinals now have only 31 players remaining at the Major League camp (including Rich Hill, who is a non-roster invitee), meaning the club has to cut six more players to reach their Opening Day 25-man roster.
Here are the 22 players I have etched in stone to make that final 25:
Position players: Albert Pujols, Skip Schumaker, Felipe Lopez, Julio Lugo, Brendan Ryan, David Freese, Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, Ryan Ludwick, Yadier Molina, and Jason LaRue.
Pitchers: Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Brad Penny, Kyle Lohse, Kyle McClellan, Ryan Franklin, Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Blake Hawksworth, Trever Miller, and Dennys Reyes.
That leaves the eight remaining players: Rich Hill, Allen Craig, Nick Stavinoha, Joe Mather, Adam Ottavino, Jon Jay, Tyler Greene, Jaime Garcia, P.J. Walters
In my opinion, and this is totally my opinion, Joe Mather is going to make the final 25-man roster because of his ability to play both the corner infield positions and the outfield. I can safely assume that P.J. Walters and Jon Jay are not going to make the team, so we can get them out of the competition. That leaves Allen Craig, Nick Stavinoha, and pitchers Rich Hill, Jaime Garcia, and Adam Ottavino fighting for those final two spots.
If Rich Hill or Jaime Garcia wins the competition for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Kyle McClellan will move back into the bullpen, which would leave Ottavino the odd man out. If McClellan remains the victor for the fifth spot, Ottavino would most likely be moved into the bullpen, and Hill and Garcia would probably be reassigned to triple-A Memphis.
Manager Tony La Russa said he would prefer to have the fifth starter spot decided by Sunday, if not earlier, so stay tuned.
As for the position players, Tyler Greene is viewed as a plus defender with not much to offer offensively, but he has made several defensive mishaps this spring. However, if Lugo starts the season on the DL or is traded (always a possibility), Greene enters the conversation again. For this article, though, I’m assuming Lugo is on the 25 man roster.
With only one bench position to fill, it all comes down to Allen Craig and Nick Stavinoha. Both guys have had great springs at the plate. In Grapefruit League play, Craig has hit .289 (11 for 38) with two home runs, while Stavinoha has hit .375 (15 for 40) with one home run. Craig is regarded to have the higher ceiling - meaning he has more potential – but Stavinoha has shown consistency and has played in the major leagues before. It will be interesting to see how this position battle clarifies itself over the coming days.