Projecting the Cardinals Final 25-Man Roster at the Start of Spring Training

Corey Noles@@coreynolesCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2014

Projecting the Cardinals Final 25-Man Roster at the Start of Spring Training

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Somewhere 1,100 miles from the St. Louis Cardinals home of Busch Stadium, bats are cracking and baseballs are flying in Jupiter, Fla.

    With ice and snow falling across the St. Louis area, it’s the perfect time to take a look at how the Cardinals’ 25-man roster is shaping up for the coming season.

    With young players like Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty making pushes for the big leagues, the competition is stiff in St. Louis. The club has impressive depth in the outfield though, which will make their push a tough one at this point.

    There will be plenty of other battles for roster slots in the rotation and bullpen. The injuries of Jason Motte and Jaime Garcia only serve to make those battles more hotly contested than expected.

    The following is a list projecting the Cardinals' full 25-man roster for 2014. It was put together assuming the Cardinals carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players.

    Stats obtained from Baseball-Reference and are current through March 2, 2014.

1. Starters (5)

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Projected starters: Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Tyler Lyons

    Despite having countless options, the Cardinals starting rotation will likely look a lot like it did at the end of 2013. Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller are virtual locks. The question is who will replace Jaime Garcia—at least temporarily?

    The Cardinals have plenty of options, with the likely candidates being Joe Kelly and Tyler Lyons. While Kelly is the more proven pitcher, expect the Cardinals to turn to Lyons to ensure at least one lefty in the rotation.

    While it’s not a necessity, it’s a balance the Cardinals did without in 2013.

2. Relievers (7)

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Projected relievers: Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Kevin Siegrist, Joe Kelly, Seth Maness, Randy Choate, Pat Neshek

    Much like the starting rotation, the Cardinals bullpen will look a lot like it did in September. The same crew that made the season’s final push, will for the most part hold shape in early 2014.

    While the Cardinals did lose Edward Mujica to free agency, by the end of the season he had begun to fall from favor and made only two appearances during the 2013 postseason.

    If Neshek can make the roster, he could play an interesting role. With so many 95-plus mph fastball pitchers, Neshek’s unorthodox pitching style could be valuable for keeping hitters off balance.

3. Catchers (2)

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Projected catchers: Yadier Molina, Tony Cruz

    As usual, the Cardinals will start the season carrying only two catchers—for obvious reasons. Molina hasn’t played less than 136 games since 2008 and has played less than 100 only in his 2005 rookie season.

    While some teams carry a third catcher, typically that’s not the case in St. Louis. With that said, Cruz is a solid option both on offense and defense. At this point, his best hope of more playing time is to find it with another team.

4. Infielders (6)

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Projected infielders: Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Mark Ellis, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Daniel Descalso

    The Cardinals stand to have one of the more solid defensive infields in the league in 2014. Free-agent acquisition Peralta is slightly less talented defensively than incumbent Pete Kozma, but the difference is more than made up for with his bat.

    Adams will continue to be a solid defender at first and Matt Carpenter will be a substantial improvement over departed David Freese at third base after moving from second. As a result of that move, Kolten Wong offers yet another area of defensive growth as the second baseman.

    With this batch, they should look substantially better in 2014.

5. Outfielders (5)

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Projected outfielders: Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos, Allen Craig, Jon Jay, Shane Robinson

    This list is one of the hardest to make because of the sheer amount of talented young outfielders in the organization.

    Oscar Taveras isn’t on the list. Some time in Triple-A Memphis could be of a huge benefit to him this year. He’ll make an impact in 2014, just don’t look for it to be in April.

    The story for Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk will be very similar. Each still needs a chance to continue their development, but if a need appears, they would be up to the challenge.

    In the meantime, there’s no need to rush any of these guys.