2013 UCB Roundtable

This year’s roundtables has been fantastic. I have enjoyed being a part of it. For a look at all the other questions and answers, take a look here. Yesterday was my turn to ask a question, and so here’s what I thought of:

Alright guys (and gals), here is the question for today:

The Cardinals 2013 season has been marked by quite a few fresh faces making huge impacts. Alot of this was due to injury. Jaime Garcia was out for most of the season. Jason Motte and Rafael Furcal had Tommy John. Chris Carpenter had nerve damage. John Gast had shoulder surgery. Allen Craig barely was able to come back form his Lisfranc injury.
This question is 2-fold: Which of the injured players from 2013 will have the best bounce-back in 2014? Which of the many rookies that played for the Cardinals do you think will have a “Sophomore Slump” next year?
Joshua Gilliam – Pitchers Hit 8th
Great question! My hope is Garcia and Motte are dueling for top honors in the bounce-back category, but I tend to lean towards Jaime as someone to solidify the middle part of the rotation.

As for the slump, my initial thought had to be Maness due to his crazy initial season. I can see the Cards sending him back to Memphis to stretch out if he is not the DP machine again.

Of course it is easy to pick on Wong or even Adams who could be more exposed with a starting job, but the revamped offense will be more balanced (In Mo We Trust).

Daniel Solzman – Redbird Rants
Garcia.  He has to.  If he doesn’t, I see a guy like Tim Cooney or Marco Gonzales taking the LHP spot in the rotation depending on how close they are to STL.
Daniel Shoptaw – C70 At The Bat
Given how Craig performed after his injury in the Series, if you are counting him I think he’d be considered the best bet.  That said, his injury wasn’t nearly as lingering or cause him to miss as much time, so I’m going to set him aside for this question.
I’m still figuring we can’t trust Jason Motte regularly in the ninth until mid-season and, by that point, Rosenthal will have a death grip on the closer role.  So even though Motte might bounce back well, he’s not going to be the same player we saw before spring training ’13.
Which means I’ll go with Garcia as well for the bounceback candidate.  It’s positive to hear that he was throwing well by time the Series rolled around and everything looked like spring training will be prepping for the season instead of continuing rehab.  He may continue to drive us crazy with his erratic outings, but it’ll be good to have him back on the bump next year.
In 2006, the Cards used a number of rookies in the bullpen, most of which never had that kind of year again.  Josh Kinney, Tyler Johnson and Randy Flores never really recaptured that magic.  In 2011, another young bullpen emerged, but again we saw some people like Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas that weren’t ever quite as good.  There’s going to be some falloff from these young guys next year as well, I’d almost guarantee it.  Seth Maness isn’t going to get a double play every time out like he seemed to this year.  I worry a bit about Kevin Siegrist and the results against him late in the year.  I’d probably say Maness if I had to pick just one, but there will be somebody that had their career year last season.
Tom Knuppel – Cardinals GM
I will also go with Garcia as the bounce back candidate. He has had a chance to see how it is done all year and likely picked up some pointers doing so.

Sophomore Slump to me will be Shelby Miller. His stuff is rather straight and I just see him having more trouble the second time around. I might add I am concerned with the way Matt Adams finished the season and given playing time from start to finish may be a concern.
Dan Buffa – Dose of Buffa
The player who will bounce back the most will be Jaime Garcia.   When the guy is healthy, he has proven to be one of the best lefthanded pitchers in baseball.   Since he has resembled Mr. Glass for the early part of his career, he has this rep of being not so good and highly vulnerable due to his mood swings on the mound.   The time is now for Garcia to get a stranglehold on the job of being our top lefthander before guys like Tyler Lyons and John Gast prove to be more effective cost and performance wise.  Marco Gonzeles is also on the way so there is no more time for Jaime to mess around.  He has to take the ball by the horns here and establish himself as a top shelf pitcher in the major leagues.  I believe he will finally put together that season we have been waiting for.

The rookie who will come down the most is Seth Maness.  He is a specialist and really can’t be overused and I am afraid Matheny will fall in love with his ability to get ground balls and over use him again.  Maness is a guy who lives and dies by his sinker.  He got 16 double plays off his sinker but when he is used improperly, such as the Jonny Gomes moment, things can go horribly wrong.  He will be decent but not nearly as good as he was in 2013.
If we are including Craig in the list of injured players, he’s my pick to “bounce back”.  Simply put, his recovery period is shorter than any of the others.  If not, well, there’s not much to choose from.  I don’t think Motte comes back into the closer role as Rosenthal will continue to succeed, in my opinion.  Furcal’s gone.  Carps retiring.  Gast will be out for most of 2014.  That leaves Garcia as a default choice.  I like that everyone is picking him, but I would say he’s the easy choice because he is really the only one lined up to achieve anything substantial.
The “Sophomore Slump” offers a bit more choices, however.  I’m going unpopular and saying this one belongs to Michael Wacha.  I really believe the Cardinals benefited from a player with a few elite pitches that had very little scouting information out there for teams to check into.  The more he gets seen, the more he’ll get hit.  I don’t expect him to be bad, but if his ERA is over four, it’s a slump compared to the incredibly high bar he has set for himself this year.  Put me down for a 13-10/4.20 ERA/165 IP Michael Wacha in his official rookie season.
John Nagel – Cardinals Farm
I will agree with the majority on Garcia. The Cards need a left handed presence in the rotation. I was thinking the same as Bill on Wacha.

I think his expectations are so high that it will be hard for him to meet the unrealistic expectations Cards fans have for him. I also am concerned about him just being a two pitch pitcher and would like for him to really develop that curve this off season.
Chris Mallonee – Birds on the Bat 82
I will disagree with the majority here, and go with Motte for best bounce-back season. I think a large portion of Garcia’s problems are between his ears and with all the young pitchers pressuring for spots, things could unravel quickly for him with 1 or 2 bad outings. I think Motte has a pretty balanced approach and will be a great late innings piece for the Cardinals bullpen.I agree with a lot of the thoughts about Wacha, but am more hopeful than some with the progress I saw on his breaking pitch during the playoffs. I will pick Siegrist for sophomore slump candidate. His numbers were so good, they will be very hard to repeat, and I have to speculate how much his psyche was damaged during the Series when Matheny changed his role after the Ortiz HR.
Mark Sherrard – Cardinals Fan in Cubs Land
I would like to see Jaime Garcia return to form, but, unlike TJ surgery, shoulder injuries are more difficult to bounce back from.  Thus, I’m going to go with Motte as the Cardinals comeback player of the year.As for sophomore slumps, I do not think either Maness or Wacha will be able to continue to perform at the level they currently are at.  The league is going to adjust to them and its going to take some time for them to adapt.  Thus, I see them taking a step back in 2014, but still having pretty good years.  I can see Wacha winning 13 games with an ERA in the 3.75 range.  I think Maness will probably have an ERA around 3.50 while holding down a middle relief role.
Matt Whitener – Cheap Seats Please
I don’t really want to count Craig, because I think he’s come back already. For Jaime, its really just more of a matter of being healthy, and even if, I don’t know what would be considered a “bounce back” for him, because he hasn’t been healthy in two years. Motte, maybe but for all of the reasons already mention, tough to call. So I’ll move in a completely different direction and say David Freese.

Will he be an All-Star again, no. Will he even hit 20 home runs again, tough to see. But I think that there is a major chance for Freese to turn the corner and reinvent himself in a role that is less demanding via timeshare, and become a relevant portion of the team again. I am in the camp of thinking he was never healthy last year with his back (which seem painfully evident in his throws and inability to extend to hit balls off the plate). If he comes back healthy, I see a .285 plus hitter and a new element to the team.
There will be obvious comeback to Earth situations for Siegrist and Maness, and there could even be some rough stretches for Rosenthal as well in his first full go around as closer.
But if there is one guy to pick, I think its Matt Adams. But not really as much of a slump as a reality check. I see him has a .270 type of hitter that will have some strikeouts but then hit his share of jacks as well, which is really what he’s there to do. Remember Todd Zeile when he was here? That’s about what I expect from Adams next year…which isn’t too bad, but not what I think the majority is expecting from him.
I believe Motte will have the best comeback of the group you listed, since I, too, don’t really consider Craig as a comeback. Will Motte return as closer? Probably not, but as we saw this year, having a solid 8th inning guy is very important too. Especially with starters like Lynn, Kelly, and CMart averaging starts in the 6+ inning mark.
Sophomore slump? I think this will be Matt Adams. It’s safe to say that he is a fastball hitter and has not yet proven he can hit against lefties. Opposing pitching coaches have a whole offseason to find the holes in his swing, which, in my opinion, has many. Teams will start giving him a heavy dose of off-speed stuff and will bring in lefties during late innings to face him. In short, though, I would like to see him as a key part of a trade for a shortstop. However, his name really has not been brought up, so it makes me wonder if other teams value him as much as the Cardinals do.
Mark Tomasik – RetroSimba

Jaime Garcia seems poised to come back from injury. He twice has won 13. I’m expecting him to win that many again in 2014.

Seth Maness might be the candidate for a sophomore jinx. He set the bar high by inducing so many double play ground balls. It is going to be difficult to duplicate that kind of success.

Now for my answer:

There were alot of great answers from the other bloggers. I honestly hadn’t thought about Freese in the way Matt Whitener did, and I think that it might have been possible that he was hurt all year. If so, it could explain some of his numbers and why he started getting better near the end of the season. I think that Garcia is in a spot to where he will be able to make the biggest impact of those returning to injury since he will be in the rotation. I am thinking that Motte will also have a pretty big impact, but Tommy John is always a hard thing to come back from, and he might not be up to par with his normal self until the middle of the season. We’ll see what happens with them, though.

As for the sophomore slump, you can take your pick. There were plenty of arms in the bullpen and the rotation who were so outstanding this year that I don’t know if many can repeat that performance. Maness was able to get the ground ball from hitters almost at will. Siegrist had an ERA of 0.45 and didn’t allow a single run at Busch Stadium. That’s going to be impossible to do again, you would think. Rosenthal struck out 108 batters in 75.1 innings. He’s got a chance to reproduce that, but it’s unlikely. I think that each of them will still have good years next year, but honestly, they had GREAT years last year, and it’s hard to continually produce at the level that they produced at this year.

Thanks to everyone who participated. It was a fun and great experience. If any of you readers have an answer, feel free to post it in the comments section.

One comment

  1. Pingback: UCB 2013 Post-Season Roundtable — United Cardinal Bloggers

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