Molina, Wong, And More…

A few expanded thoughts after a day in which the St. Louis Cardinals all but officially announced their 25-man roster, hinted at a platoon, three players were banged up to varying degree, and the clock began ticking on the Molina negotiations…

–First, no real surprises in terms of the 25-man roster. Jose Martinez out-performed Tommy Pham this spring. Miguel Socolovich is out of options and John Gant is not. Provided there is no groin issue, it makes a lot of sense to keep Gant stretched out in Memphis–just a phone call away if a starter goes down. Tyler Lyons can use some extra game action to further prepare and fine tune, but to open the season on the DL again makes sense and was predictable.

The Cardinals have good depth in their bullpen with Bowman, Rosenthal, and Socolovich all capable of throwing multiple innings. That said, there is no true long reliever if things got really bad early. But with multiple pieces available and extra days off early in the schedule, that shouldn’t be an issue if the situation were to arise.

–Based on his reaction in the dugout and his exit to the clubhouse, Lance Lynn didn’t seem to concerned about the sore ribs or whatever caused his early exit from today’s game. Will wait and see what the re-evaulations show on Gant. Peralta also seems to have dodged a bullet.

–We’ll see what the lineup looks like the first couple of weeks, but the Cardinals appear to be setting up the same situation that led to difficulties with Kolten Wong last season. After all of the verbage during the off-season of him being poised for a Gold Glove season, the last 24 hours have seen back-tracking and hints of Jedd Gyorko receiving more playing time at second base.

Don’t get me wrong–there is a need to find at-bats for someone who can hit 30 home runs in the season. And with him being able to play more than one spot, Gyorko should be able to get some pretty regular at-bats. Also not to overlook Greg Garcia, who has had one of the better spring performances.

But if Wong is supposed to be their guy–and even in today’s television broadcast John Mozeliak reiterated the hope that Kolten could take the position, then let him run with it for the time being.

Stephen Piscotty has had an equally less than stellar performance at the plate this spring, but there has been no call for Jose Martinez to take his spot in right field. Nor should there be at this point.

We’ve seen players be ice cold in Spring Training and then get going when the actual season begins. Others struggle through out, or start hot and fade fast. Regardless, yanking someone who was portrayed as an everyday player in and out of the lineup at the start of the season is not going to inspire a lot of confidence. This is how it began last year before eventually snowballing.

–So Yadier Molina started the clock and confirmed the thought that he did not want to negotiate during the season on a contract extension. Game on.

Technically, the Cardinals are already committed to Molina for two more years if you count the mutual option for 2018. Adding two more years on top of that doesn’t seem unreasonable–if that is agreeable to both sides.

Molina is already the everyday catcher this season. Next year, many in the organization have already expressed how beneficial it would be for Carson Kelly to serve a full year as the backup. Even if that includes an additional season in 2019, keep in mind that Kelly will only be turning 25 years old that season. If Yadi continues to perform at a high level, he starts and Kelly remains the back up or could draw some sizable trade interest. If age catches up to Molina, Kelly is ready and has had extra time to grow into the position he moved into only a few seasons ago.

Either way, it makes sense–both on the field and in the seats to work out the extension with Molina. Not re-signing would bring the largest reaction from fans since this ownership group has taken over. Kelly is already being forced to deal with the heir-apparent label, that would not be made easier if Molina was not able to pass the torch. And knowing that Molina would not fade into the sunset, but rather sign with another team–perhaps a division rival, well that’s not the sort of feeling that would benefit the organization either.

But for Yadi’s part, he needs to be realistic that even after looking like Superman in the WBC, eventually Father Time is going to knock on his door. Being willing to structure an extension to reflect that eventuality should be exercised.

As Mozeliak said in the broadcast, there’s plenty of time to get a deal done and both sides have a good idea of what the other wants. Good, then they should be able to work it out. Together.

Thanks, I feel better now. Appreciate you taking the time to read.

Feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@StullySTL) or even call into the radio show on Monday (noon-1pm on WGNU 920AM) with your comments or questions.

photo credit: STLBaseballWeekly.com;

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