The St. Louis Cardinals closed out the regular season last year with the best record in the National League, going 97-65 to best the Pittsburgh Pirates by three games and Cincinnati Reds by seven games.
They went on to capture the NL pennant, before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series in six games. It was the team's seventh postseason appearance in the past 10 years and its fourth NL pennant.
The team didn't have much to do this offseason, but it worked quickly to fill the biggest hole on its roster. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta was signed to a four-year, $53 million deal, and he should be a significant upgrade considering the team's shortstops hit a combined .222/.280/.303 last year.
David Freese was then shipped to the Los Angeles Angels for center fielder Peter Bourjos. That allows the team to slide Matt Carpenter to third base and opens things up for prospect Kolten Wong to have an everyday job at second.
A full season of Michael Wacha in the rotation should make the staff that much better, and with a wealth of young arms it has not shortage of depth.
Top prospect Oscar Taveras missed significant time with an ankle injury last year, but he is back healthy this spring and could make a run at an everyday job by midseason. That would presumably push Allen Craig back to first base and Matt Adams to the bench.
For now, the team is in Jupiter, Fla., getting ready for the season ahead, as it looks to get over the hump and win it all in 2014. We'll use the following space to track the latest game results and other key news on a daily basis, so be sure to check back here for all the latest Cardinals news leading up to Opening Day.
|New York Mets (5-6)||9||14||1|
|St. Louis Cardinals (2-7)||8||13||0|
2B: Craig, Wong, Descalso, Piscotty
A day after getting smoked by the Detroit Tigers, the Cardinals got the bats going once again, but their pitching was hit hard once more as they fell 9-8 to the New York Mets.
Second baseman Kolten Wong (2-for-5, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) paced the offense, while Daniel Descalso (2-for-2, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R) and Allen Craig (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI) also had solid games at the plate.
Adam Wainwright pitched well with two hits and one run allowed in his 3.1 innings of work, but Tim Cooney (0.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 H) was shelled and Trevor Rosenthal picked up the loss by allowing a run in the ninth in what was his second outing of the spring.
|Detroit Tigers (7-5)||17||22||0|
|St. Louis Cardinals (2-6)||5||8||0|
The Cardinals were blasted by the Detroit Tigers on Monday, as the first five pitchers that were used combined to give up 20 hits and 17 runs in seven innings.
Stephen Piscotty, the team's No. 4 prospect according to Baseball America, provided most of the offense with a three-run home run in the seventh inning. Peter Bourjos was 2-for-2, as he raised his average to .444 this spring.
Shelby Miller got the start, allowing five hits and two earned runs in 2.1 innings of work. Tyler Lyons, who is vying for a rotation spot, was shelled for six hits and seven earned runs in 0.2 innings.
- Top prospect Oscar Taveras remains sidelined with a hamstring injury, as his chances of making the Opening Day roster seem to be dwindling.
- Recently signed Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz worked out with the team on Monday, but he will return to Mexico to get a work visa that will allow him to play in spring games, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
|St. Louis Cardinals (2-3)||1||3||1|
|Washington Nationals (7-3)||11||15||0|
It was a rough all-around game for the Cardinals on Sunday, as they managed just three hits and had six pitchers combined to allow 15 hits, eight walks and 11 earned runs.
Joe Kelly gave up seven hits and five runs in 2.1 innings and Seth Maness saw his struggles continue as he gave up three hits and three runs in 1.2 innings. Allen Craig was 2-for-3 with a double to provide the bulk of the Cardinals' offense.
- Left-hander Marco Gonzalez, who ranks as the team's No. 5 prospect according to Baseball America entering the season, has been shut down for the remainder of Grapefruit League action with forearm soreness, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.
- A right hamstring issue kept top prospect Oscar Taveras out of the lineup on Sunday. He made his spring debut on Friday after being brought along slowly.
- The team signed Cuban defector Aledmys Diaz to a four-year, $8 million deal, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The 23-year-old shortstop prospect should start the season in the high minors, and could see time in St. Louis in 2014.
|Washington Nationals (5-3)||4||6||3|
|St. Louis Cardinals (2-4)||4||8||2|
2B: Scruggs, Wisdom
Michael Wacha pitched well in his second start of the spring, allowing two hits and one earned run in three innings of work. Trevor Rosenthal returned from a groin injury to throw a scoreless inning in his spring debut.
Greg Garcia had a two-run single at the plate, while Xavier Scruggs had an RBI double and Mark Ellis had an RBI single. Catcher Yadier Molina was 2-for-3 at the plate, scoring a run and raising his batting average to .429.
- Left-hander Jaime Garcia is expected to resume throwing at some point next week, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. He will meet with Dr. James Andrews first, having met with him back on Feb. 26.
|St. Louis Cardinals (2-3)||5||11||0|
|New York Mets (2-5)||5||9||3|
2B: Taveras, Wong
Carlos Martinez threw three scoreless innings in the start, allowing just one hit, as he continues to make his case for a spot in the rotation.
Oscar Taveras made his spring debut and doubled in his first at-bat, while Kolten Wong (3-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R) finally broke out of his spring slump. Matt Holliday (3-for-3, 2 RBI) and Daniel Descalso (2-for-3, R) also had solid games at the plate.
Seth Maness (1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER) blew the save, posting a 10.13 ERA, as he continues to struggle this spring.
|Miami Marlins (6-2)||7||10||0|
|St. Louis Cardinals (2-4)||3||7||1|
In the team's home game of the split squad, Adam Wainwright made his spring debut and allowed one hit in two scoreless innings of work. Lance Lynn was shelled following him though, giving up six hits and five runs in 1.1 innings.
Henderson Alvarez threw three perfect innings for the Marlins, and the team was down 5-0 by the fourth inning. Matt Adams (2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, 1 R), Shane Robinson (1-for-3, 2B, RBI) and Pete Kozma (2-for-3) were the offensive standouts.
- Second baseman Matt Carpenter was signed to a six-year, $52 million extension that will keep him in a Cardinals uniform through his age-33 season.
|Boston Red Sox (1-5)||6||9||3|
|St. Louis Cardinals (2-3)||8||13||0|
2B: Peralta, Jay
The bats kept working for the Cardinals, as they have piled up 36 hits over their past three games, and they were able to pull out an 8-3 victory thanks to seven quick runs through the first four innings.
Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Mark Ellis had two hits apiece, Matt Adams had a two-run single, Jhonny Peralta had an RBI double and Xavier Scruggs blasted a two-run home run in a start at first base.
Shelby Miller looked sharp in the start, throwing 2.2 innings and allowing only a solo home run to Daniel Nava in the first innings while striking out five. Randy Choate and Pat Neshek followed with scoreless innings, while Angel Castro (1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER) and Sam Freeman (1 IP 2 H, 2 ER) gave up runs.
- I wrote an article on Wednesday morning looking at the likelihood of a World Series rematch between the Cardinals and Red Sox, with this being their first meeting since the Fall Classic.
- Former closer Jason Motte threw a "high-intensity" bullpen session on Wednesday, as he moves closer to facing live hitting, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.
- March 6 game vs. Minnesota Twins has been cancelled.
|St. Louis Cardinals (1-3)||5||11||1|
|Detroit Tigers (4-2)||8||11||1|
2B: S. Moore, L. Mateo
HR: Peralta (2)
Despite a pair of solo home runs from newcomer Jhonny Peralta, the Cardinals lost to the Detroit Tigers who put the game away with a five-run bottom of the third inning.
Outfield prospect James Ramsey delivered a two-run single in the top of the sixth inning, and shortstop prospect plated him with an RBI double of his own.
Joe Kelly started the game, allowing two hits and two runs in 1.2 innings of work in his quest to earn the No. 5 starter job. Tyler Lyons also made his second appearance of the spring, allowing one run and striking out three in two innings. The bulk of the damage was done against Boone Whiting, as he surrendered five hits and five runs (four earned) in his lone inning.
- There is still no timetable on when top prospect Oscar Taveras will make his spring debut, according to manager Mike Matheny via Andrew Simon of MLB.com.
Still just trying to push him forward and follow the medical staff's advice of what he needs, and right now he's just going to keep working to get his legs stronger to where there's no reservation in his movements. But he's looking better all the time. It just takes a while when you've had an injury that's held you out for a while. You can't come back instantly. He's making the right steps forward.
- The Cardinals are off on Tuesday. They face off against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday in a rematch of last October's Fall Classic.
|New York Mets (0-3)||1||4||0|
|St. Louis Cardinals (1-2)||7||12||0|
2B: Carpenter, Holliday (2), Bourjos, Kozma, Grichuk
The St. Louis Cardinals tallied double-digit hits for the second straight game, while their pitching staff limited the New York Mets to just four hits, as they picked up their first win of the spring.
Matt Holliday (2-for-2, 2 2B, 2 RBI), Shane Robinson (2-for-2, 3 RBI) and Pete Kozma (1-for-2, 2B, 2 RBI, SB) were the offensive standouts, as the team put things out of reach with a four-run bottom of the sixth.
Michael Wacha started, allowing one hit and walking two in 1.2 scoreless innings. Prospects Keith Butler, Tim Cooney and Zach Petrick followed him with scoreless appearances of their own, while Eric Fornataro allowed the lone Mets run in the eighth.
- Closer Trevor Rosenthal pitched for the first time since cutting short a batting practice session on Tuesday with tightness in his groin. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session without any further problems, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.
|St. Louis Cardinals (0-2)||4||11||0|
|Miami Marlins (2-0)||5||8||2|
The Cardinals piled up 11 hits, but plated just four runs as they dropped their second straight game to the Miami Marlins.
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta made his Cardinals debut, going 0-for-2 with a strike out hitting in the cleanup spot. Scott Moore delivered his second extra-base hit in as many games, homering in the top of the eighth to temporarily tie things up at 4-4.
Lance Lynn allowed one in hit in two scoreless innings as the starter, but Angel Castro ran into trouble following him, as he allowed four hits and four earned runs in 1.2 innings of work. Seth Maness took the loss, allowing a walk-off RBI single to Avery Romero.
|Miami Marlins (1-0)||5||8||1|
|St. Louis Cardinals (0-1)||4||9||0|
2B: Craig, Moore
A number of starters took the field for the Cardinals in their spring opener, as Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Allen Craig, Matt Adams, Yadier Molina (DH) and Peter Bourjos all started the game.
That group went a combined 5-for-14, with Molina leading the way with a 2-for-3 day and both Adams and Bourjos recording RBI singles. Patrick Wisdom, a 2012 supplemental round pick in 2012, hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to cap the scoring.
Hard-throwing Carlos Martinez started on the mound, and after a rough first inning that saw him allow two hits including a two-run homer by Garrett Jones, he settled in. He wound up going three innings, throwing 36 pitches, and he didn't allow a base runner over his final two innings.
Tyler Lyons followed him with two scoreless innings, allowing one hits and striking out one. Non-roster invitee Pat Neshek, who has an outside shot at a bullpen spot, allowed two hits and one run in one inning.
- Shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who signed a four-year, $53 million deal in the offseason, will make his Cardinals debut on Saturday. Lance Lynn, who is battling for a rotation spot, will take the ball to start the game.
No game. Next game Friday, Feb. 28 vs. Miami Marlins.
- Closer Trevor Rosenthal cut his live batting practice session short on Tuesday afternoon with a right-groin strain. He is not expected to be sidelined long, as shutting him down was just a precautionary measure, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. The flame-thrower said the following:
If it was during the season, I feel like it would be something not worth stopping [for]. With the situation being now, I just thought I would say something. I felt it once, so I said something as soon as I could.
- Carlos Martinez and Tyler Lyons will pitch in Friday's Grapefruit League opener against the Marlins, and manager Mike Matheny is expected to announce the rest of his spring rotation plans soon, via Langosch.
- After dealing with some discomfort in his surgically repaired shoulder, left-hander Jaime Garcia met with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday. The news was positive, as tests showed inflammation but no structural damage, according to Matt Snyder of CBSSports.
- Carlos Martinez will get the start in the spring opener, facing off against reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez. Left-hander Tyler Lyons, another guy with an outside chance to win a rotation spot, will follow Martinez.