The Cards fall to the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium today 6-3, which drops their Grapefruit League record to 13-7-2.
Here are the highlights from the day:
Jake Westbrook was tremendous again. His final line doesn’t look all that special (6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, BB, 2 K) but all of those runs came in the 7th, and he didn’t even allow them to score himself. It was Mark Rzepczynski who let the runners score. For Westbrook, on an official level, it pushes his spring ERA to 1.47 for March. He’s done such a tremendous job of keeping the ball down and showing that he’s a different pitcher than last year. The one thing that he did to help himself this offseason was lose weight. Westbrook clearly looks slimmer in his midsection and he says it drastically changes the way he feels. He isn’t totally sure if that’s had any effect of his actual pitching but he says he wants to give himself the best possible chance at success. For Westbrook, he needs to have a good year. If he doesn’t...there’s a decent chance the team won’t exercise his option and thus making him a free agent. Considering he’d be coming off 2 consecutive bad seasons he wouldn’t be in line for a good contract. So basically, Jake Westbrook needs to have a good season in the worst way. Something tells me he’ll be pretty good.
Matt Carpenter went 2-4 today while starting at 1st base and moving to 3rd later on. He’s now hitting .364 this spring. With Alex Cora getting released, it seems a virtual lock that Carpenter is going to make the team. But for him, that doesn’t mean he can take his foot off the gas pedal. Not one bit. Just because you’re on the team that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be there very long. If you don’t perform...they’ll send you back to AAA and bring up someone who they think can do the job better. Also, remember that Skip Schumaker is going to start the season on the DL most likely. That means when he comes back someone is going to have to be sent out. I’m not saying that’ll be Carpenter. It’s impossible to know what the situation will be like in St. Louis when he does. Someone else could get hurt...someone else could struggle so badly that they are forced to send them down. But remember...the other bench players are going to be Allen Craig (who’s not going anywhere), Daniel Descalso (ditto), a backup catcher (who obviously won’t be sent out) and probably Erik Komatsu. Now, he’s a Rule 5 guy so if they send him out they risk losing him. Carpenter is going to need to play very well to make sure he stays in St. Louis.
The Cardinals sent out Adron Chambers to AAA after the game. He is a speedy outfielder who came in with high expectations because he was on the playoff roster for 2 of the 3 series. But Mike Matheny said after the game Chambers still has room to grow in this game in several areas. Most notably is base running. As fast as Chambers is he should steal a lot more bases and take extra bags on the base paths. But that’s not really about pure speed. That’s about instincts and knowing exactly when to take off. It’s getting a good jump and reading the ball and the pitcher. Then, once all that has happened, sure, speed takes over. But Chambers has a lot of room to grow there. He’s not the world’s greatest hitter and probably never will be. His arm isn’t especially great in the outfield so he won’t be throwing anyone out at home plate. But Chambers’ value to the big league club here is with his ability to make things happen on the bases. He could really put some pressure on the defense by running. If he can continue to get better at that then he’s got a chance to get to St. Louis at some point.