photo: Paul Goldschmidt (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)
The St. Louis Cardinals went a strong 4-2-1 in the final week of spring training action as Paul Goldschmidt, armed with a new contact, and the offense finally came to life. The Opening Day roster has been set, with no real surprises. In our weekly history feature, another star Cardinals first baseman once acquired in trade, Mark McGwire, is remembered.
Spring game recaps
The final week of Grapefruit League play began with a St. Louis Cardinals win over the visiting Phillies. Bryce Harper did not travel with his new club. Dakota Hudson took the mound and earned his second Grapefruit League win. Hudson pitched five scoreless innings, allowing four hits, fanning eight and walking one. Chasen Shreve, John Brebbia, and Alex Reyes followed with a scoreless inning apiece. Jordan Hicks gave up the only Phillies run in the ninth.
Three of the four St. Louis runs scored via the long ball. Tyler O’Neill hit a solo shot in the second inning. Paul Goldschmidt added a two-run blast in the fifth. In the seventh, Paul DeJong added an RBI single. DeJong and Marcell Ozuna went 4-for-4.
Drew Robinson stole his third base of the spring. Yairo Munoz committed a fielding error.
Tuesday, March 19 – Off day
The Cardinals were blanked by the Marlins in Jupiter on Wednesday. It was another lack of offense day for the Redbirds. Of the three hits, two came from Drew Robinson. The other was a single by Dexter Fowler.
The lack of offense was exacerbated by a poor outing on the mound from Daniel Ponce de Leon, continuing his rough spring. Ponce de Leon pitched 3 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. The right hander struck out two and walked two. To make matters worse, Ponce de Leon also made a throwing error. Mike Mayers followed with two scoreless innings of relief. Tommy Layne gave up a run in 1/3 innings. Dominic Leone, Alex Reyes, and Tyler Webb pitched the scoreless seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively.
The Yankees came to Jupiter with their B team and the Cardinals’ split squad team walloped them. The Cardinals won both spring games against the Yankees in Grapefruit League action, despite the Yankees sporting the best record in the Grapefruit League at 17-9. Jake Woodford made the start and pitched four innings, giving up three runs on five hits while striking out one and walking two. Williams Perez tossed two scoreless innings. Andrew Miller and John Brebbia combined for the next two scoreless fames, and Jordan Hicks finished with a scoreless ninth.
Dexter Fowler homered twice, once to lead off the first inning, a solo shot, and in the second, added a two-run blast. Drew Robinson contributed an RBI single, also in the second inning. Marcell Ozuna launched a solo home run in the third inning. In the sixth, Harrison Bader drove in a run on a single, as did Robinson for the second time. Ozuna doubled in a run in the seventh, Kolten Wong hit a sac fly, and Robinson doubled in two. Fowler went 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Ozuna was 3-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored. Bader was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Robinson was 3-for-4 with four RBI.
Robinson stole his fourth and fifth bases of the spring. Wong swiped his third bag in Florida.
The Cardinals did not fare well in the second split squad game, against the Nationals at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. The Cardinals scored their lone run in the sixth inning on a Dylan Carlson single. Otherwise the team scattered seven other hits. Leadoff hitter Tommy Edman went 2-for-5 with a double. Scott Hurst also doubled. Carlson went 2-for-3.
In a bullpen game, Chris Beck started and pitched two innings, giving up one run on three hits. Chasen Shreve surrendered two runs in 1 2/3 innings. Tyler Webb tossed a scoreless inning. Jesus Cruz pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Evan Kruczynski gave up four runs without recording an out in the seventh, as the game got away from the Cardinals. He was relieved by John Fasola, who got the three outs without further damage. Kodi Whitley added a scoreless eighth.
Carlson was picked off and caught stealing second base. He also made a fielding error.
The Cardinals ambushed the Mets in Port St. Lucie on Friday. Just after he was announced as having lost the fifth starter race, John Gant started. The right hander pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits. He fanned four and walked two. Dominic Leone surrendered two runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings pitched. Mike Mayers and Alex Reyes pitched the final two scoreless innings.
To start a busy day of offense, Tommy Edman singled in two runs in the second inning. Paul Goldschmidt launched a solo home run in the third, and Yadier Molina followed with a two run RBI single. In the fifth, Molina hit a ground rule double to drive in a run and Kolten Wong plated a run on a sac fly. Ozuna added a sac fly for a run in the sixth, and Yairo Munoz did the same in the seventh. In the eighth, Ozuna hit a solo home run, Edman added an RBI single and Munoz drove in two on a single. Andrew Knizner plated two on a double in the ninth.
The Cardinals and the Nats played to a tie at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Saturday. Tyler O’Neill plated the first run on a ground rule double in the first inning. In inning two, starting pitcher Miles Mikolas hit his first Grapefruit League home run, a two-run shot. The final St. Louis run scored in the sixth on Max Schrock’s single. O’Neill went 4-for-5; Schrock went 2-for-3.
Mikolas pitched three innings, giving up four runs on six hits while fanning two and walking two. Dakota Hudson finished with six scoreless innings during which he allowed only three hits. He struck out three and walked two.
Dylan Carlson and Evan Mendoza both stole a base. Yairo Munoz had an outfield assist.
In the final Grapefruit League game on Sunday, the Cardinals beat the Marlins in a walkoff. The Cardinals scored first via Paul Goldschmidt’s solo home run in the first inning, his third home run of the spring. The Marlins tied the score in the eighth inning. In the ninth, Evan Mendoza singled to end the game.
Jack Flaherty started and pitched four scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and striking out three. Kodi Whitley tossed a scoreless fifth, followed by two scoreless innings from Tyler Webb. Jesus Cruz gave up the Marlins’ only run in the eighth and left with two outs. Chris Beck pitched the final 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals ended their final Grapefruit League week at 4-2-1 and their final Florida record was 12-15-4. This tied the Boston Red Sox for the 11th spot overall. The Orioles, Mets and Rays all tied for the cellar with records of 12-16.
The Cardinals spring was marked for the lack of offense, which picked up in the final week. The pitching by the five rotation pitchers was basically good overall with Flaherty and Hudson as standouts. The relief pitching was good for the most part.
Spring Training News and Notes
Below is a final summary of Spring Training 2019.
- The 25 man opening day roster has been set. It consists of: SP – Mikolas, Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, Hudson; Bullpen – Miller as the sole LHP, RHPs Alex Reyes, John Gant, John Brebbia, Mike Mayers, Dominic Leone, and Jordan Hicks; Starting eight – C Yadier Molina, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 2B Kolten Wong, SS Paul DeJong, 3B Matt Carpenter, LF Marcell Ozuna, CF Harrison Bader, RF Dexter Fowler; Bench – C Matt Wieters, OF Jose Martinez, OF Tyler 0’Neill, UT Yairo Munoz, and UT Drew Robinson.
- Five players will begin the season on the injured list: RHP Luke Gregerson, RHP Carlos Martinez, LHP Brett Cecil, UT Jedd Gyorko and OF Justin Williams.
- C Francisco Pena did not make the team. He is on a minor league contract and will either begin the season in Memphis or become a free agent and look for a better deal elsewhere.
- The remaining 40 man roster players will all be optioned to Memphis by Thursday to begin the season on the Triple-A roster.
- Those who do not make the trip to Memphis to play in Monday’s exhibition game will remain in minor league camp in Jupiter and play games this week. The Memphis roster plus some additional Double-A players will play in the exhibition game then remain in Memphis to work out until the minor league season begins on Thursday, April 4.
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Goldschmidt signs five-year extension
On Thursday, the Cardinals and Paul Goldschmidt formalized a contract extension before the first baseman ever took an at bat in St. Louis. The deal, reported to be for five years and $130 million, will keep Goldschmidt in St. Louis through the 2024 season. The deal has a no trade clause, no opt outs and is a straight $26 million for years 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Goldschmidt will play 2019 at his current contract level of $14.5 million.
Goldschmidt took a physical exam on Friday, passed it, and the deal was officially announced at a press conference on Saturday, with more than a dozen of Goldschmidt’s teammates in attendance.
The first sacker was acquired by the Cardinals in a December trade that sent RHP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, 2B Andrew Young, and a competitive balance draft pick to the Diamondbacks. The Cardinals made the trade with the goal of getting to this extension, as Goldschmidt was in the final year of his contract and set to become a free agent at the end of the year. The Cardinals had made similar trades that led to extensions in the past, notably for players such as Scott Rolen, Mark McGwire and Jim Edmonds.
Goldschmidt, 31, will turn 32 in September. The contract will extend through his age 36 season, which will end with him turning 37 in the final month of the 2024 regular season.
The serious work on the extension began a couple of weeks ago as Goldschmidt and President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak bumped into each other getting coffee one morning. Mozeliak took the opportunity to probe whether Goldschmidt would consider talking extension. When Goldschmidt answered that he would, the deal began its infancy and ended with the deal announced on Thursday. Mozeliak and Goldschmidt’s agent, Casey Close, who had done many deals together over the years, came to this final agreement and the rest is history.
With this deal, Goldschmidt gets security and stability and the Cardinals get the middle of the order bat they wanted for the next six years. Whether it is a win-win will be determined by how Goldschmidt and his new team perform over the length of the contract.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 3/20 The Cardinals optioned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 3/20 The Cardinals optioned LHP Austin Gomber to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 3/22 The Cardinals designated LHP Chasen Shreve for assignment. The Cardinals have seven days to settle his fate.
- 3/22 The Cardinals selected the contract of C Matt Wieters from the Memphis Redbirds.
RHP Carlos Martinez (right shoulder) had an in injection of platelet-rich plasma in early spring training and did not appear in Grapefruit League games. Martinez has begun a throwing program and will begin the season on the injured list.
RHP Luke Gregerson (right shoulder) will begin the season on the injured list. Gregerson has been throwing bullpen sessions.
IF/UT Jedd Gyorko is nursing a calf injury. Gyorko has been out of the lineup for all of the last several weeks of spring games. Gyorko will remain in Jupiter to get at bats in minor league games and will begin the season on the injured list.
LHP Brett Cecil (left arm fatigue) will begin the season on the injured list. No timetable for his return to roster has been announced.
3B Matt Carpenter started Sunday’s final spring game and took one at bat. Carpenter will remain in Jupiter to get at bats in minor league camp and will join the team for Opening Day in Milwaukee.
Grapefruit League games ended on Sunday and the team headed to Memphis to play an exhibition game against the Memphis Redbirds on Monday night.
Opening Day of the 2019 regular season begins on Thursday, March 28 when the Cardinals play in Milwaukee. The first series of the season is a four game set against the Brewers, with the first game to start at 1:10 CT. That game will be followed by a 7:10 CT game on Friday, 6:10 CT on Saturday, and 1:10 CT on Sunday.
The Cardinals continue on the road to Pittsburgh to play two games against the Pirates beginning on April 1. There will be no game on Tuesday, April 2. The second game of the series takes place on Wednesday, April 3.
The Cardinals home opener will be on Thursday, April 4 against the San Diego Padres. Friday will be an off day, and the Cardinals will resume the series with two games against the Padres on Saturday and Sunday.
Blast from the Past
In celebration of the extension of Paul Goldschmidt, this week’s Blast from the Past looks at another notable trade that led to an extension for a Cardinals first-base star.
On July 31, 1997, the Cardinals acquired Oakland Athletics slugger Mark McGwire for RHP T.J. Matthews, RHP Eric Ludwick (brother of Ryan Ludwick) and RHP Blake Stein. McGwire had played for then-current Cardinals manager Tony La Russa in Oakland, and La Russa was instrumental in promoting the trade.
It was believed at the time that McGwire, who was in the final year of his contract with Oakland, was a rental, and that he would go to free agency and seek a contract near his home in Southern California. However, the Cardinals convinced McGwire to agree to an extension to remain in St. Louis.
The extension was signed on September 16, 1997. It was for three years, 1998-2000 at $28.5 million plus a mutual option for 2001. That option was exercised, so the extension became four years at $39.5 million (11 million option). There was a $1M signing bonus.
That extension put McGwire in St. Louis for the historic race to break Roger Maris’ home run record against Sammy Sosa of the Cubs in 1998. McGwire broke the record on September 8 with his 62nd home run, hit to over the left field fence off Cubs pitcher Steve Trachsel. McGwire finished the season with 70 home runs, four ahead of Sosa.
The home run record was broken in 2001 by Barry Bonds with 73.
McGwire was awarded the Babe Ruth Home Run Award that year, but ironically it was Sosa who won the 1998 NL MVP award. The Cubs went to the playoffs that year but the Cardinals did not.
To this day, many credit the excitement of the 1998 home run race with restoring baseball from the brutal consequences of the 1994-95 baseball strike.
McGwire had a good offensive year in 1999, but his numbers declined over the last two years of the contract. McGwire retired after the 2001 season.
McGwire was hired in 2009 by the Cardinals to replace hitting coach Hal McRae, lured back into the game thanks to La Russa’s efforts over a number of years. Despite the scandal of the intervening time, including McGwire admitting he used PEDS, the new hitting coach was welcomed with open arms by Cardinals fans with a standing ovation on opening day 2010. McGwire remained the hitting coach through the 2012 season, then rejected an extension offer from the Cardinals to accept the hitting coach job with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
McGwire became the bench coach for the San Diego Padres in 2016. He left that position after the 2018 season, retiring again.
“Big Mac” was voted by fans into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2017.
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