Sunday Morning Coffee with Ray Mileur

Topics around the morning coffee table, Chris Carpenter faces live batters; Mitchell Boggs is back on the mound; Blake Hawksworth making another comeback bid; Skip Schumaker at second, seriously; Brian Barden looking for a major league job; a sign-and-trade deal for Juan Cruz?; an update on Troy Glaus and Chris Duncan's new claim to fame; it's all here, including where's Bo Hart if you need him?

The big news coming out of Florida on Saturday, centered on starting pitcher Chris Carpenter, who threw his first live batting season this spring. He threw a total of 30 pitches in what can be describe as a very successful session as he takes another big step back towards being ready by opening day.

Carpenter is scheduled to throw another bullpen session next Tuesday, followed by another session on Thursday, before his first start in Grapefruit League action against the Washington Nationals on Saturday, February 28th. The game will be broadcasted on 550 KTRS and many stations on the Cardinals Radio Network.

In other news from the mound, Mitchell Boggs who I have on my depth chart as the Cardinals #7 starter, threw his first bullpen session in about a week, after battling shoulder stiffness after earlier bullpen sessions. The news this week that the competition for the fifth spot in the Cardinals rotation is closed, with manager Tony La Russa bestowing the job on Joel Pineiro, means Boggs has virtually no chance with sticking with the major league club out of spring training.

According to a report in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, RHP Blake Hawksworth will start the Cardinals first spring training game on Thursday. Selected in the 28th round of the June, 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Hawksworth was added to the Cardinals 40-man roster this winter to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

Coming off a bad 2007 season, things didn't get much better in 2008 for Hawksworth. Blake finished the season with a 5-7 record, appearing in just 18 games, including making 16 starts for the Triple-A Redbirds. His ERA went up to 6.09 in 08 from 5.28 in 07 and his WHIP ballooned to 1.680, up from 1.473 in 07. Hawksworth had to deal with a sprained MCL in June and never did really get on track or pitch to his potential in 2008.

Hawksworth was the Cardinals and the Birdhouse's "2006 Minor League Pitcher of the Year" and ranked by the Birdhouse as the Cardinals #2 prospect in 2007 before a rash of injuries and failed comebacks attempts purged him for any top prospect rankings. Early reports from Jupiter Florida indicate that Hawksworth is looking very good in his bullpen session, obviously we'll get a better read on him next week when he faces batters in a game situation. Regardless of how well he pitches, there is very little chance he'll make the Cardinals 25-man roster. That said, Hawksworth will likely sign a new contract within the next four weeks, start the season at Memphis and could factor into the Cardinals rotation in 2010.

Get your ink pens out and write it down, you won't need an eraser; Skip Schumaker will be the Cardinals second baseman this season. Brendan Ryan will be battling it out with infielders Brian Barden and Joe Thurston for the utility infielder role.

Q & A

A few questions from the fans this week.

The Cardinals need a second baseman, whatever happened to Bo Hart?

A year hasn't gone by that I haven't been asked this question by someone. Bo played in the Northern Independent League last season for the Kansas City T-Bones, who by the way, actually won the 2008 Northern League Championship. Bo hit a home run to help lead the T-Bones back from a seven run deficit to even the Series at 1-1, before eventually clinching the League Championship title. It's hard to believe it's been six years since Bo burst on the scene with the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting .460 through his first 10 games with St. Louis, before eventually coming back to earth, finishing the year hitting .287. Bo was sent down to the minors in April of 2004 (I believe) and has never made it back to the show. Hey I love the kid, I'd still like to see him play, I may even take a trip to Kansas City this summer and have a T-bone steak and watch my man "Bo Hart" and the T-Bones play some baseball.

What is Brian Barden's chance of making the Cardinals?

Brian is competing against Brendan Ryan and Joe Thurston for a job on the bench as a utility infielder. If Schumaker wasn't slated to play second, Brian might have had a real shot at winning the job at second outright. Brian has a better glove than Ryan or Thurston, but he doesn't bring the bat the Cardinals want at second. Ironically, it may come to as a surprise to a lot people, but when ranking the tools scouts take into consideration for someone to play second base, it is actually hitting ahead of defense.

Any chance the Cardinals will make a sign-and-trade-deal for Juan Cruz?

I know this idea has been tossed about, but I don't think the Cardinals had any serious interest in pursuing this potential deal. According to a Minneapolis Star Tribune report, the Twins have made Cruz a contract offer as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. If Cruz and the Twins agree to a contract, Minnesota and Arizona have 24 hours to work out a deal. This deal will happen before any St. Louis deal, I just don't see where anything would be in the works right now.

What is the status of third baseman Troy Glaus?

Glaus isn't close to resuming baseball-related activities. Reports that he could be playing within a month is too optimistic as far as I'm concerned. I wouldn't be surprised to see him sideline until mid-April with a return to the major league roster in early May, after a 20 day rehab assignment, that I would suggest he should take.

The Cardinals have a very crowded outfield, who do you see being in the outfield on opening day?

From left to right; Chris Duncan & Joe Mather (platoon in left), Rick Ankiel (center), Ryan Ludwick (right)

Thought of the Day, from the desk of Randy Wile

Chris Duncan may have acquired his claim to fame, just like Tommy John. Any player now having titanium disk replacement surgery, will simply be called Chris Duncan surgery or perhaps because of the shape of the disk, it could be called Duncan Donut surgery?

 

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