Well, the Cards have been playing some pretty good ball so far this spring, and the positives have so far vastly outweighed the negatives with the team to this point. Here's my thoughts and observations to this point:
What's been good:
1. Obviously, the biggest positive thus far has been that Chris Carpenter looks healthy and VERY effective (zero earned runs in the spring to this point). Can he give us 30+ starts this year? I'm sure no one has any idea, but if he does, we should be able to contend with the Cubs and everyone else in the NL.
2. Khalil Greene=bigger upgrade than I expected. Certainly, almost anyone could swing a bigger bat than Izturis at SS, but Greene has been among several Cardinals to hit the ball extremely well so far this spring. Many have postulated that getting him outta PETCO park would make him a plus offensive player, and it looks like that may very well be the case.
3. The Mather/Shumaker experiment could work, but it's still too early to tell. Shu had a tough start to things at 2B, but he seems to be getting the hang of it now. He has been his usual patient and productive self at the top of the order as well. It's still tough to say that he will be the starter at 2B for sure on opening day. Brenden Ryan has I think played well enough to earn at least a platoon spot with Shu. Mather is one of the few guys to not post a sparkling batting average, but he has driven in quite a few runs. He has also been more consistent in the field than I would have imagined (and therefore, better than Shu in that regard). With Freese and Craig being optioned to the minor league camp, it does seem a certainty that Mather will be the opening day 3B. Obviously, I'd expect Glaus to take that position as soon as he is able with Mather staying up with the big club as a super-utility guy.
4. The pitching has been fantastic overall. I think Wainwright has the worst numbers of the any of the starters, and he's the guy I'm least worried about. Carp I already mentioned. Lohse and Wellenmeyer have been solid after tough initial outings. Pinero has been the big surprise. I think he had his "worst" outing so far today giving up two runs in four innings. The pen already looks better than last year. Motte has been lights out. Kinney has given up only one measly run. Franklin looks confident and comfortable again. Reyes and Miller mark a clear upgrade from the left side from last year. Perez had been solid before being shut-down with tightness in shoulder last week. The only real negative with the pen has been McClellen and Thompson looking shaky as they battle for the long-relief/emergency starter role. Still, things ARE looking decidedly up compared to last year in that area.
What's been not so good:
Really not much. Ludwick has slumped so far this spring (though he hit his first homer today), but with so many anticipated regulars tearing the cover off the ball, I'm not too worried about the offense. The closer situation is still in flux. Perez was probably the favorite, but with him sidelined, I'd say it's a battle between Motte and Kinney and they both look great. It would be nice to have a designated guy, but I'm happy to have a bunch of guys that I think can get people out in the late innings. We had maybe one guy (Franklin) in the entire pen I felt that way about last year. All-in-all, it's been a very positive spring so far. Let's keep the momentum going towards the start of the season!