I recently spoke with MLB insider Jake Wesley who writes for stadiumsportsnews.com and broke the story about Hanley Ramirez signing with the Red sox this offseason. Here’s his take on the Cardinals pitching staff and more.
Gus Passov: What do you think about the Cardinals signing of relief pitcher Matt Belisle?
Jake Wesley: Well I think that the Cardinals want him to take on the role Pat Neshek had last year and he is a low risk high reward type of player as well. The past couple years his ERA has been in the 4’s, but the Cardinals believe that he can potentially take over Carlos Martinez’s role in the bullpen and this can give Martinez the opportunity to slide into the starting rotation too. Hopefully after working with pitching coach Derek Lilliquist this offseason Belisle can become a successful Major League reliever once again.
GP: Do you think Martinez or Marco Gonzalez will fit better in the Cardinals starting rotation?
JW: First off, you still can’t out jaime Garcia. He’s still due a lot of money and the team really wants him to be the fifth starter. They are not really confident in him right now because he’s always hurt, but between Marco Gonzalez and Martinez I would love to see Marco have a shot because they don’t have a left-handed starter in the rotation if Jaime isn’t in there. Martinez is a proven reliever and Gonzalez is a proven starter so I think it makes more sense for Marco to move into the starting rotation.
GP: What do you think the chances are that Michael Wacha and jaime Garcia can stay healthy for a full season?
JW: Well I think Wacha was really disappointed about his finish this year, especially after not pitching for weeks and then being the last Cards pitcher to pitch in the playoffs. He will definitely train hard during the offseason and have a great year in 2015. On the other hand, Jaime Garcia has been constantly hurt the past three seasons or so and I don’t think he’ll have a very successful season once again next year.
GP: What do you think the Cards rotation is going to look like on opening day next season?
JW: I think the Cards are showing a lot of interest in Max Scherzer. I don’t think they will sign him, but it would make sense. He’s from Saint Louis and Wainright has an innings cap of 200 for next year so he might not even be able to be the bona-fide ace. All in all, the rotation is probably as of now Wainright, Lynn, Lackey, Wacha as locks and I think Marco Gonzalez will end up rounding out the rotation.
GP: Do you think the Cardinals are going to go after a frontline starter like Scherzer or Jon Lester or maybe another proven reliever such as Pat Neshek?
JW: If they go after a reliever I would be very surprised, I mean they have confidence in closer Trevor Rosenthal, personally I’m not a big fan of him, but if they go for a reliever it would be via the trade market for a closer. Also, I don’t think they are in the market for Lester. He doesn’t make much sense, other than the fact that he is left-handed, and he will demand just as much money as Scherzer, although Scherzer is in my opinion in a much more proven pitcher. Scherzer is from Saint louis too, so there is a possibility he would be willing to take a hometown discount.
GP: Lastly, do you think with their roster the Cards have a shot to contend for the World Series next season?
JW: Oh absolutely, even with the loss of Shelby Miller they have definitely gotten better with the acquisition of Jason Heyward. I think he’s going to provide a big spark and flourish at Busch Stadium as well. Hopefully they will re-sign him if he has a good year this year although, if they do re-sign him his future with the team is as a center fielder. This would also allow one of the Cards current outfield prospects, maybe Stephen Piscotty for example, to contend for the right field position. So that’s what I think will happen there because I don’t think Jon Jay is the long-term option, but yes, I do think the Cardinals are a World Series caliber team as of now.
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