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Most Disappointing St. Louis Cardinals Players in Spring Training so Far

Posted Monday, March 17, 2014, at 7:03 AM

By COREY NOLES

With spring training rapidly passing by and Opening Day just around the corner, there's now enough of a sample by which to get a good idea of the overall performance of a few key players.

For the St. Louis Cardinals, several have stepped up and either surprised or tried and failed--this piece will focus on the latter.

Some players arrive in Jupiter, Fla., and everything goes as planned, but for others it's not so easy. Whether it's the hype that precedes them, the pressure or just trying to get back into the groove of a long season, for some players coming back can be a problem.

Sometimes it's an injury that causes the problem.

Every year there are a few.

Overall, the 2014 Cardinals are looking good, despite the normal bumps in the road. A handful of players, however, have struggled to live up to their potential so far during spring training.

Following are the three players off to the most disappointing starts through the first half of spring training.

3. Seth Maness

Spring training: 9.39 ERA, 7 games, 7.2 IP, 14 hits, 8 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 2.22 WHIP

In 2013, Seth Maness shocked in St. Louis when he arrived, functioning like a literal lucky charm for the Cardinals down the playoff stretch.

Need a double play? Maness was your guy.

That same luck has yet to carry over to spring training.

In his seven games through March 16, Maness has only three scoreless outings--something that was his specialty in 2013.

Despite his struggles, I'm not ready to count Maness out for 2014. He's a solid pitcher with a mature approach to the game that is, hopefully, just struggling to find his stride. Give him time.

2. Jaime Garcia

Spring training: N/A

Prior to the start of spring training, the hope was that a healthy Jaime Garcia would be able to push the Cardinals over the brink from good to borderline unstoppable.

While that characterization may still fit the team before the season starts, it's unlikely that the mode of thinking will be due to a healthy Jaime Garcia.

If Garcia turns out to be fully healthy, his impact will still be major, however, it's highly unlikely that will be any time near Opening Day.

Were it not for the next player, Garcia would have taken the top slot in this article.

1. Oscar Taveras

Spring training: .167/.167/.333, 1-for-6 overall, two games, 1 double, 1 run scored

The great hope of the Cardinals organization, whose arrival fans have anxiously awaited now for three years, will once again miss Opening Day.

Oscar Taveras, one of the most coveted outfield prospects in all of Major League Baseball, has had a rocky path to the big leagues, battling injury throughout 2013 and now early in 2014.

With the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporting contention within the organization regarding the extent of his issues, for Tavares to be among the first to leave spring training is highly disappointing.

After hearing throughout the winter that Tavares was believed to be ready for the season, his continued struggles are a cause for concern.

In reality, though, Tavares spent only a limited amount of time at Triple-A Memphis in 2013 and could probably benefit from the additional time for development.

Rest assured, his day will come very soon.

--

All stats are courtesy Baseball Reference; they are current through March 16, 2014.

Corey Noles is a Cardinals Writer and Columnist for The Daily Statesman. He also serves as a regular contributor to KSDK.com and Bleacher Report. Contact him at cnoles@dailystatesman.com or on Twitter @coreynoles.


Comments
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6 at bats and 7.2 innings do not make a sample size but I understand it's a column and you can't write "Jaime Garcia's injury is a bummer"article every time we look at the bad of spring training. It would have cool to see OT get four or five times the at bats and get a real chance to start crushing balls but alas we must wait.

-- Posted by Bunk on Mon, Mar 17, 2014, at 8:38 AM

So is Taveras hurt again? Is he going to miss significant time at Memphis?

-- Posted by Preacher Man Fan on Mon, Mar 17, 2014, at 1:04 PM

He is fine. They are saving money while getting him true reps at AAA and getting Adams at bats in order to showcase him for a trade.

-- Posted by Bunk on Mon, Mar 17, 2014, at 1:17 PM

At that is the logic I read of the moves but OT isn't still hurt from what I have read just a little rusty

-- Posted by Bunk on Mon, Mar 17, 2014, at 1:18 PM

He did tweak his Hammy, which is what slowed him down and prevented him from getting more reps. After the Mulder debacle, I didn't expect Garcia back at all.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Mon, Mar 17, 2014, at 4:10 PM

The Cardinals are fortunate enough to be in a very weak division this season. They will probably win the division if Matt Holliday breaks his leg in April. Maness will be missed if not effective. The other two won't be missed much.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Mar 18, 2014, at 2:31 AM

If Craig and Holliday both get hurt they might have to trade for an outfielder. I like Seattle or Texas to beat the Dodgers in the World Series this season. I think the Cardinals will lose to the Dodgers in the NLCS.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Mar 18, 2014, at 2:37 AM

But don't count out Arizona or the New York Yankees to win it all as a wild card.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Mar 18, 2014, at 2:39 AM

If the Yankees make the playoffs Beltran will probably hit a home run in every game.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Mar 18, 2014, at 2:42 AM

I'm not sure what will happen after the Reds didn't make the playoffs last season.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Mar 18, 2014, at 2:45 AM

It's DW is in the deep end of the pool and sinking

-- Posted by Bunk on Tue, Mar 18, 2014, at 10:14 AM

DW The Reds did make the playoffs! The one game playoff is part of the playoffs!!!!

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Tue, Mar 18, 2014, at 3:44 PM

I don't think the NL Central is a weak division at all Dustin. Last time I checked the Reds and the Pirates were both pretty good teams!

-- Posted by Preacher Man Fan on Tue, Mar 18, 2014, at 10:16 PM

Seattle? No way. They won't be in the World Series. They are still very weak.

The NL is still between the Cardinals and Dodgers. The Reds, Pirates and Braves will also be solid.

As for Taveras, I'm starting to worry about him. He's still young but he's a slow healer. His injuries last forever. I've been exciting to see him for a long time but I'm thinking they may should have taken the Profar trade.

-- Posted by Steve Frey on Wed, Mar 19, 2014, at 10:08 AM

I agree with that Steve. Should have gotten Profar when we could.

-- Posted by Kidrayray on Wed, Mar 19, 2014, at 12:16 PM

Taveras will be fine. It will be a slugfest between the Cardinals, Dodgers, and the Nationals. I think the Cardinals will outlast those two teams but it will be close

-- Posted by Bunk on Wed, Mar 19, 2014, at 12:38 PM

DW seems to be slowly developing into just a caricature of himself. Seattle in the World Series? Cards need Holliday to get hurt? It'll be the Cards, Dodgers, and probably Nats winning the division with Atlanta being a favorite for one of the wildcards and a big logjam of potential teams for the other. I'd say Pittsburgh and San Francisco have the best shot at nabbing it but most anyone except Chicago or Miami or Colorado could perform to some ridiculous standard and get it (The second wildcard sets a really low bar to me). Taveras will be fine. The majors don't need him yet and keeping him in Memphis until June will help delay the arbitration clock another year which is what I've always been advocating for for this season. In the AL, it will be Boston and Detroit for sure with a dog fight between Oakland, Texas and Los Angeles probably and Tampa Bay more than likely sneaking in there as well. Just like the NL, there are all kinds of sleepers for the second wild card (Baltimore, Cleveland, KC, etc.) that make it tough to really eliminate anyone but the six I mentioned are the ones from the AL who I could see in the World Series and not be too surprised.

-- Posted by sideline starter on Wed, Mar 19, 2014, at 1:59 PM

I really think this is the year Oakland makes the jump and gets to the WS. I would love to see the Cardinals take down the A's in 7 it would be awesome

-- Posted by Bunk on Wed, Mar 19, 2014, at 2:36 PM

Oakland took a big hit with a SP going down for TJ surgery. I don't know how deep their pitching is.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Thu, Mar 20, 2014, at 10:25 AM

Parker is really good so it's a blow but Milone can survive until May when Griffin gets back and they still have Straily and Sonny Gray.

-- Posted by Bunk on Thu, Mar 20, 2014, at 10:52 AM

No reason to be down on Taveras. It was the Cardinals organization that screwed this up. After his injury in Memphis last spring, they put him back in the lineup way too early and kept running him out there for 15 games even though he was visibly limping because of the high ankle sprain. They finally took him out of the lineup, but after a short break, they sent him down to play in the GCL before he was ready, where the ankle lasted just one more game.

Anyone that knows anything about high ankle sprains will tell you how risky rushing him was because of the possibility of completely tearing the ligament and displacing the bones, which is apparently what ultimately happened to Taveras and resulted in serious ankle surgery.

The Cardinals continue to say things making Taveras look like the problem. But the instability that follows this kind of injury and surgery can last a long time and result in other injuries, such as the hamstring pull he suffered this spring. I'm sure he'll get back, but it might take a while.

The Cardinals are a great organization, but diagnosing/treating injuries is not their long suit.

-- Posted by unclegrubworm on Thu, Mar 20, 2014, at 12:46 PM


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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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