Although they've lost the last couple the Cardinals overall have looked pretty good this spring. Wainwright had a fairly good start today. He allowed a lot of base runners, but only two runs in 5 1/3 innings and struck-out eight. In my opinion, he should be the opening day guy. Carpenter has been fantastic, no doubt, but I'd like to see him placed in the middle of the rotation where perhaps the Cards can afford to limit his innings/pitches. Anyway, TRL seems to be trying to maybe play his "regulars" together right now, so here's my best guess at the opening day line-up:
1. Shumaker-2B Shu seems to have stabilized defensively, but I'd guess Ryan will still play against lefties. Shu usually sat against them last year in the outfield anyway.
2. Ankiel-CF Personally, I'd rather see Rick bat 4th and play left field, but it seems that Duncan is going to start over Rasmus and also that Rick doesn't feel comfortable as a corner outfielder.
3. Pujols - 1B He's cooled-off after a hot start to the spring and only hit I think one homer, but guess what, I'm not worried in the least.
4. Duncan - LF I'm a little surprised he seems to have this spot locked down, but it is true that he showed great power and promise before he got hurt.
5. Ludwick - RF He'd probably be the better choice to back-up Albert, but TRL seems determined to split-up his RH/LH power as best he can.
6. K. Greene - SS He's been the star of the spring, without question. No one expects him to bat .400 in the season, but if he even sniffs .300, that would be huge.
7. Y. Molina - C Haven't seen too much of him because of the WBC, but he's probably the most reliable guy we have after Albert, so there's nothing to worry about I think.
8. Freese - 3B After it seemed Mather had this spot locked down, Freese was called back-up and given a second look. The offseason favorite now seems to be the real favorite to fill-in for Glaus.
9. Wainwright - P When Ramus or Mather start, TRL will likely go back to batting the P's eighth, but for now, he has no natural "2nd lead-off" guy to put 9th.
Rasmus, Mather, LaRue, Ryan, Thurston. It's possible Thurston could be sent down in favor of an extra pitcher. Mather and Ryan have the versatility to allow that. It's also possible they'll send Rasmus down so he plays every day. I think he'll stick though.
Rotation: Wainwright, Lohse, Carp, Wellenmeyer, Pineiro. Like I said, I'd put Carp in the middle with Waino and Lohse ahead of him, but he's the veteran, so TRL may defy logic and put him at the top. Wellenmeyer is the only guy that has struggled a little this spring, while Pineiro has been almost as pleasant a surprise as Carp.
Long-relief: Thompson-he's been slightly less horrible than McClellen this spring.
LH middle: Miller, Reyes-should be a big upgrade over Flores/Villone, though Miller got shelled today against the Mets.
RH middle: Perez, Kinney, Franklin. Again, should be much better here than last year. I love Kinney and his wicked slider especially.
de-facto Closer: Motte. I seriously doubt Duncan and TRL will name a closer until May if ever this season, but Motte should be the guy most nights. He looks like the real deal anyway.
It's what, ten days till opening day? Obviously, we'll miss Glaus while he is out and Carp's health remains a question mark, but there's at least two big things to be excited about: the offense should be awesome and the bullpen way better. If those things turn out to be as true as I think, we should have a good ball club. At the start of the season, hope spring eternal.