St. Louis Cardinals

A recap of St. Louis Cardinals-related news from the period of January 11-17, 2016.

The St. Louis Cardinals come to terms with four arbitration eligible players, new relief pitcher Seung-hwan Oh is introduced, and pre-season activities get underway.

Cardinals come to terms with arbitration eligibles

On the Friday, January 15 deadline to exchange contract numbers, the Cardinals came to terms with all four of their arbitration eligible players.  The four, Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Brandon Moss and Matt Adams, agreed to one-year deals to avoid arbitration hearings.

The contract amounts for 2016 are as follows:

Rosenthal   $5.6 million

Maness       $1.4 million

Moss           $8.25 million

Adams        $1.65 million

Moss is in his final year of arbitration, while Rosenthal, Maness and Adams are all first year arbitration eligible.

Rosenthal, who will enter his third season as closer, was paid just $535,000 in 2015, so his 2016 arbitration salary represents a ten-fold increase.

Newly-signed Korean pitcher introduced

At a press conference on Jan. 11, General Manager John Mozeliak and Manager Mike Matheny introduced newly signed Korean relief pitcher Seung-hwan Oh.

A closer for the last ten seasons with the Korean Baseball Organization and the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan, Oh signed a one-year deal with a club option for 2017, though the total value of the deal remains unclear.

Oh’s role in the Cardinals’ bullpen is yet to be defined, but Mozeliak stated that the Cardinals’ closer will continue to be Trevor Rosenthal.

Mozeliak said the Cardinals will hire a full time interpreter for Oh who will travel with the team to facilitate communication between the pitcher and his manager, coaches and teammates.  The interpreter will be allowed to visit the mound during games if necessary.

Winter Warm-Up and Cardinals Caravans underway

The St. Louis Cardinals’ 2016 pre-season activities began on Friday, Jan. 15 with six Cardinals Caravans, and continued with the Winter Warm-Up, which runs on Saturday, Jan. 16 through Monday, Jan. 18.

Six caravans consisting of current and former players, and broadcasters, traveled throughout Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee over the weekend.  Those events included questions and answer sessions plus free autographs for the first 400 children age 15 and under.

The 2016 Winter Warm-Up began on Saturday and runs for three days.  Coverage of the Warm-Up, including interviews and photos, is available here at The CardinalNation.com and at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

Cardinals Hall of Fame ballot to be announced

As part of the 2016 Winter Warm-Up, team President Bill DeWitt III will announce the Modern Era finalists for the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot during a presentation on Monday, Jan. 18.

The finalists were chosen by vote of the Red Ribbon Committee from a list of about two dozen names, including returning choices from the 2015 ballot Keith Hernandez, Mark McGwire, Joe Torre, Edgar Renteria, Steve Carlton and Matt Morris, plus first timers Chris Carpenter, Scott Rolen, Jason Isringhausen and Jeff Suppan, among other names.

Between six and ten finalists will be announced on Monday.  A fan vote will select two of the Modern Era finalists for induction into the Hall of Fame.  In addition to the fan voted selections, a Veteran Era selection was voted on by the Committee from a list of ten players who completed their career over 40 years ago.  A final inductee may be chosen by the club and would be someone from the ranks of coaches, managers, broadcasters, or member of the Front Office.

The Veterans Era selection and club selection will be announced along with the Modern Era winners later this spring.

Four participate in Rookie Development Program

Four Cardinals’ prospects attended the annual Rookie Development Program, sponsored by Major League Baseball and The Players Association, and held every January in Washington, D.C.

Alex Reyes, Aledmys DiazAnthony Garcia and Charlie Tilson were the Cardinals’ participants.  The program brings prospects from across MLB together to become acquainted and learn about life in the major leagues, including appropriate off field behavior.

Reyes’ participation is especially notable, given that he is under a 50-game suspension due to a second positive test for a drug of abuse, marijuana. Reyes has admitted the use and issued a public apology.  Reyes will participate in minor league Spring Training miss the first six weeks of the season due to the suspension.

Pitcher John Gast retires

On Tuesday, January 12, MiLB.com reported that pitcher John Gast has elected to retire.  No further details were available.

The 26-year-old was St. Louis’ sixth-round draft pick in the 2010 draft and made his debut with the major league club on May 14, 2013.  Gast made three starts for the Cardinals before becoming injured and subsequently undergoing surgery.  He returned to pitch in 2014 and 2015 at the Cardinals’ High-A club in Palm Beach and at Triple-A Memphis.  Gast has a career minor league record of 41-28 and an ERA of 3.98.

Few coaching changes

The Cardinals announced this past week that all of the minor league coaching staff will be returning for the 2016 season.  There will be few changes in coaching assignments through the Cardinals’ minor league affiliate clubs.

The fourth coach program is being expanded to five of the affiliates this coming season.  The new hires are Robby Hisert (Memphis), T.C. Calhoun (Springfield), Jim Foster (Palm Beach), Nathan Sopena (Peoria), and C.J. Beatty (State College).

Some of the affiliates will have new hitting coaches, mostly moving from other roles: Ramon Ortiz (Springfield), Donnie Ecker (Palm Beach), Cody Gabella (new hire - Gulf Coast League) and Roberto Espinoza (Johnson City).

The Cardinals have a trainer opening at Memphis in the wake of the promotion of Jeremy Clipperton to the big league staff. 

All 28 2016 Spring Training games to be broadcast

For the first time, all 28 of the Cardinals’ 2016 Spring Training games will be available for watching or listening.  KMOX and the Cardinals Radio Network will broadcast 18 games, 15 games will be televised by Fox Sports Midwest, and 10 games will be streamed online on Cardinals.com and the MLB at Bat app.

The KMOX games will be broadcast on a rotating basis by Mike Shannon, John Rooney, Mike Claiborne, and Ricky Horton.  Broadcasting the online games will be Claiborne, Tom Ackerman, Chris Hrabe, and former Cardinals’ pitcher Kyle McClellan.

Fox Sports Midwest will televise its first game on March 5 and will replay the games in prime time.  In addition, the network will have two 30-minute Spring Training specials that will air on Feb. 17 and Feb. 24.

The complete broadcast schedule can be found here.

Cardinals restructure medical department

The Cardinals announced on Saturday, Jan. 16 that they have restructured their medical department by adding a new Performance Department to be headed by Dr. Robert Butler.  Butler is a former clinical scientist and educator in the Physical Therapy department of Duke University.  The Performance Department will focus on player performance in terms of such things as fatigue, nutrition and training.

Recently promoted head athletic trainer Adam Olsen will run the Athletic Training Department.  The department will include assistant athletic trainer Chris Conroy, and assistant athletic trainer Jeremy Clipperton, who previously worked as the athletic trainer at Triple-A Memphis.

Dr. Clayton Skaggs, who was the injury and performance physician for the past two seasons, will not be returning to the Cardinals’ medical staff.

In addition to the medical department announcements, it was also announced that the Cardinals will be adding two interpreters to the big league staff, a Korean speaking interpreter for newly signed pitcher Seung-hwan Oh, and a Spanish-speaking interpreter to assist with media interviews.  The addition of the Spanish-speaking interpreter is mandated by MLB as part of a joint initiative with The Players Association.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

According to GM John Mozeliak, the Cardinals are looking to add another catcher to provide additional depth as backup to the recovering Yadier Molina.  Molina had a repeat surgery on his injured thumb ligament and is expected to miss part of Spring Training as a result.  Mozeliak added that the additional catcher may come from a waiver pick up or a catcher who has been designated for assignment.

Transactions

Cardinals signed free agent RHP Seung-hwan Oh.

Injury Report

Outfielder Randal Grichuk, who had sports hernia surgery in November, has begun throwing, hitting and agility drills.

Outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who suffered a head contusion and a mild concussion in a collision with former teammate Peter Bourjos in a Sept. 28 game in Pittsburgh, reported that he felt effects from the collision into the offseason.  Piscotty said he felt some neck soreness for a few weeks after he returned to his offseason home in California, but he says the soreness had completely subsided.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals are on the lookout for additional catcher depth and will likely be making a waiver claim or signing a recently released or free agent catcher.  Any additions to the big league roster seem unlikely, but opportunities could manifest themselves as the offseason winds down.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to the Spring Training facility in Jupiter, FL on Feb. 18, while the full squad is scheduled to report on Feb. 23, though many arrive earlier than required.

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