La Russa Prepares to Make Final Calls

Final decisions will be made this weekend concerning the makeup of the Cardinals 25 man major league roster.

Over the next 72 hours, St. Louis Cardinal Manager, Tony La Russa will decide the fate for certain players.

Perhaps it should be presented as, some players will decide their own fate based on their play this weekend.

Coming into spring training, certain things were a given.

The starting rotation was set in stone, from one through four and I would even submit the fifth position in the rotation was actually decided when the Cardinals signed Sidney Ponson.

Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder, Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan and Sidney Ponson.

If you want to believe the spin that top prospects, Anthony Reyes and Adam Wainwright had a chance to break into the rotation, so be it.

Reyes was sent down to Triple-A Memphis recently and Adam Wainwright has earned a spot in the Cardinals bullpen.

Jason Isringhausen is going to be your closer and the rest of the bullpen is going to consist of struggling Braden Looper, as a set up man, who has a job based on his contract, not his performance. Ricardo Rincon, Randy Flores from the left side and Brad Thompson, Adam Wainwright from the right side and it appears Josh Hancock another right-hander, will be named as the final member of the bullpen, this weekend.

On the outside looking in? Right-handers, Alan Benes and Brian Falkenborg have both pitched well and it is conceivable that either one of them could bump Hancock off the roster. Personally, I'd leave Looper in Florida for extended spring training, and bring Alan Benes north with the club.

Most of the Cardinals'lineup from day one could be written in ink.

Juan Encarnacion in right, Jim Edmonds in center, Albert Pujols at first, David Eckstein in the hole at short, Scott Rolen at third and behind the plate, Yadier Molina.

Coming into spring training, the two big questions were, who is going to be playing at second and in left?

As the Cardinals prepare to break came, the two big questions remain, who is going to play at second and in left?

The battle for second turned out to be a low intensity firefight at best. Junior Spivey had the job to lose and he has done his best to do just that.

Infielder, Aaron Miles missed some playing time with a jammed wrist, but has played well as of late and he could come out of camp as the starter.

Hector Luna the Cardinals super sub from last season, has been anything but super this spring and will be lucky not to be sent down by the end of the weekend.

The Cardinals may give the job at second to Spivey, (he hasn't earned it), but you can expect Miles to be at second before it's all over.

In left, Larry Bigbie was the early favorite, with So Taguchi serving in his traditional role as the team's fourth outfielder.

Bigbie missed a lot of playing time and was less than impressive when in the lineup. J-Rod, Rodriguez also in the mix to be in left this season also missed significant playing time with a sore left shoulder.

The outfield kids, Skip Schumaker, Chris Duncan and even John Gall, looked better than Bigbie and Rodriguez for most of the spring.

It comes down to these final calls;

Who's at second? Spivey, Miles or Luna.

My take is Spivey will be given the job, due to his contract, but Miles is breathing down his neck.

Who's in left? Taguchi, Rodriguez, Bigbie, or one of the kids.

Bigbie should start the season on the disabled list, opening the door for Rodriquez to share playing time with So Taguchi for the first few weeks of the season.

Then comes the final spots on the bench to be filled out.

Gary Bennett will back up Molina behind the plate. J-Rod Rodriguez will be there with his bat as the only left-hander who has a little pop.

The switch-hitting Scott Spiezio will probably make the team as a guy who can play, first, second, third and left. Scott started off being one of the hottest players in spring training, but his production has drop significantly over the last two weeks.

Let me put it this way, if I was Spiezio I wouldn't call in sick.

Hector Luna could still beat out Spiezio for that spot on the bench. It's not so much who has earned the job, but who did the least not to lose it.

Aaron Miles will probably make the team, if not as the starting second baseman, he'll be there as an infield reserve.

With Bigbie on the DL, minor league outfielder Skip Schumaker, will probably get the nod to join the team on the bench.

Still a lot of questions that need answers over the next 72 hours and it all comes down to the final two games this spring, before manager Tony La Russa, makes his final calls.


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