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Three Questions Regarding the Cardinals

Fri, 06 Jun 2014 13:56:48 CDT

This week, I have decided to open up my column to the public. I have decided to answer three questions regarding the Cardinals. I will be doing this more often so feel free to contact me and ask me a question about our Redbirds!

What do you think of the Cardinalsí first two picks in the draft and what are some active/former players they remind you of?

As soon as I saw video on Luke Weaver, the Cardinals first draft pick, I knew the Cardinals were going to take him pending his availability. Heís a slender right handed pitcher who doesnít throw incredibly hard, but that by no means diminishes his talent. His selection continues the teamís trend of drafting college pitchers. He was previously drafted in 2011 out of high school by Toronto, but chose to attend college. He had a rocky freshman year at Florida State University, but bounced back to have his best season as a sophomore. His strikeout rate dropped during his junior year, but his command still stood out according to scouts. Weaver wonít profile as the ace of a staff, but has the ability to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher in the Major Leagues if he reaches his ceiling. The current player I believe he most resembles is Cincinnati Reds starter Mike Leake. They have similar pitching styles and are very good at keeping the ball down in the zone.

The second player the Cardinals took in the first round is Jack Flaherty, a right-handed pitcher out of high school. Athough Flaherty also played the infield, the Cardinals selected him because of his ability on the mound. When I first saw Flaherty, his mechanics reminded me a lot of Ubaldo Jiminez. Iím not saying heís going to be that good (or inconsistent, depending on how you look at it). At 6í3Ē, heís the prototypical size for a Major League pitcher. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he has a big, slow curveball but must develop a good feel for it and keep it down in the zone. His best pitch is considered his changeup, which fits the trend the Cardinals have set the last few drafts with players like Michael Wacha, Marco Gonzales, and Rob Kaminsky. Flaherty has high upside, but will need some time in the minors before being called up to the big leagues.

What is wrong with Trevor Rosenthal this season?

While I donít have access to any of the Cardinalsí players, coaches, medical staff, or other personnel, I have my own theories for Trevor Rosenthalís struggles this season:

1) He isnít using his off-speed pitches enough. Rosenthal is a hard throwing pitcher who can reach 100 mph on his best days, but that doesnít mean he should limit his repertoire to just fastballs. If heís throwing nothing but heat to a batter, then heís making it easy for the hitter to guess what kind of pitches heís going to see late in a game.

But you win and lose on your best pitch.

That doesnít mean you canít use your secondary stuff on pitches out of the zone. One of the things that made Rosenthal such a popular prospect was his ability to throw three good pitches. He features a changeup and a curveball that donít nearly get utilized enough. Most analysts have compared Rosenthal to Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves. The difference between the two is Kimbrel actually uses his breaking pitches. He uses his hard slider to change the hitterís bat speed and eye angle.

2) He might be hurt - which would explain why he isnít using his breaking pitches enough. Itís no secret that his velocity has declined a bit, even though heís still throwing in the high 90s; but Rosenthalís mechanics are very short and compact, and put a lot of strain on his body. It wouldnít surprise me if he were to be placed on the Disabled List at some point this season with an upper body injury.

Is Matt Holliday off to another slow start, or is this a sign of things to come from the leftfielder?

Before Albert Pujols left St. Louis, the consistent question among Cardinals fans was, ďwhat will Pujolsís decline look like?Ē Weíre all aware of Albertís decreased production in Los Angeles, but did you know that Matt Holliday is just one day older than Pujols? Albert is easily one of the greatest hitters of all time, so isnít it possible that a 34-year-old Matt Holliday is beginning his demise? While Holliday has been a slow starter throughout his career, I think what we are witnessing is the end of his productive years in the Gateway City. Holliday has been great for the Cardinals, but it might be time for Mike Matheny to consider dropping him down in the batting order and moving up a younger, more productive hitter. Oscar Taveras is likely to be the third-place hitter for the Cardinals soon, but that time probably isnít now. Maybe moving Allen Craig or Yadier Molina up to third in the order would be the best option. The decision lies solely on Matheny. Thanks for reading!

-David Jenkins


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