John Mozeliak watched how the St. Louis Cardinals

#1 von linhui95 , 12.04.2019 05:10

were galvanized following a managerial change midway through last season Ross Stripling Jersey , then made a spirited run toward the playoffs that came up just short.He decided a couple of pieces were all it would take to push the Cardinals over the top.Welcome to St. Louis, Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew MillerThe longtime Diamondbacks slugger arrived in one of the marquee trades of the offseason, and one of the top relievers in baseball arrived as a free agent. Together with a returning core that made huge strides under skipper Mike Shildt, the Cardinals believe they have the pieces to contend with the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers in what should be a stacked National League Central.“In the offseason, we feel like we did the things we needed to put a successful club out on the field,” said Mozeliak, the team’s president. “We knew we just couldn’t have a stagnant offseason. We knew we had to make some changes to our club because even though we felt we had a good team last year, we still weren’t good enough.”Goldschmidt got off to a slow start last season but went on a tear in June, and he wound up with the same kind of consistently stellar numbers that he put up with the Diamondbacks.He joins a lineup that includes Marcell Ozuna, Dexter Fowler, Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong, who combined for 76 homers last season. Throw in third baseman Matt Carpenter and the Cardinals have the ability to score plenty of runs with very few swings of the bat.“I’m ready to go. Let’s do this,” said Carpenter, who is moving from first base to clear space for Goldschmidt. “I mean, I’ll play wherever to accommodate that.”The starting rotation took a hit this spring when Carlos Martinez experienced shoulder trouble that could keep him out well into the season. But with Miles Mikolas coming off a breakout year, Jack Flaherty posting huge strikeout numbers and veterans in Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright, there is enough depth in the starting rotation to keep the Cardinals in games.Miller and the bullpen are expected to take it from there.There are plenty of questions, of course. Will outfielder Dexter Fowler bounce back , especially after a less-than-inspiring spring? Can the young arms live up to the hype? Will the Cardinals continue to respond to Shildt now that he’s in charge for a full season?The season opener is March 28 at Milwaukee.MORE ON DEXFowler is expected to start in right field, but he might be on a short leash after hitting .180 last season. He dealt with injuries and is finally healthy, but his Grapefruit League numbers hardly reflected it.“We’re clearly committed to Dex,” Shildt said. “He’s in a real good spot.”OTHER REBOUNDSOzuna arrived in St Louis on the heels of back-to-back All-Star selections, but he produced a solid if unspectacular season. He hit .280 with 23 homers and 88 RBIs, but they weren’t near the 37 homers and 124 RBIs he produced in his final season in Miami.FLAHERTY’S ARMOne of the unsung heroes of last year’s run was Flaherty, who struck out 29 percent of opposing batters during his rookie year. The only other rookies to log those kinds of numbers have been Dwight Gooden (1984), Hideo Nomo (1995) and Kerry Wood (1998). Now, can the 23-year-old Flaherty translate those numbers into wins? He was 8-9 with a 3.34 ERA in 28 starts last season.NEW FACESGoldschmidt and Miller are a pretty good place to start. Both will shoulder huge expectations, a byproduct of their track records of success. The 34-year-old Miller was an All-Star two years ago in Cleveland, and he had a 4.24 ERA in 37 appearances last season.“I think with the additions of Paul and Andrew and really thinking about the health of the club as well and the depth we have on the pitching side and our everyday club, we feel like we’re going to be competitive team,” Mozeliak said.ROOKIES TO WATCHKeep an eye on right-hander Dakota Hudson, who was solid in relief last season. The injury to Martinez coupled with Wainwright’s age could give him an opening in the rotation. Otherwise, his solid ability to induce groundballs will continue to play well out of the bullpen. DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — Charlie Montoyo thought he would be taking a hard line against video games in his first year as Toronto Blue Jays manager.Before he could put his foot down on Fortnite, the players took it upon themselves to govern their gaming.“We’re going to play less, I know that Joc Pederson Jersey ,” Montoyo said. “It’s actually not my rule. It’s our clubhouse rule.”The role of video games at the ballpark was put in the crosshairs Monday when ESPN reported that veteran first baseman Carlos Santana smashed a television in the Philadelphia Phillies‘ clubhouse last September to stop teammates from playing Fortnite. Santana, now with the Cleveland Indians, told ESPN that Phillies players were sneaking into the locker room to play during games.Manager Gabe Kapler acknowledged the Fortnite playing, but he and pitcher Jake Arrieta deny it was happening during games.“Our players say that that wasn’t the case, and I trust our players,” Kapler said.Video games have long been a pastime for big leaguers, but Fortnite pushed their popularity to another level last season. The Houston Astros hooked up gaming consoles to many of the 10 TVs in their spring training clubhouse for raucous, team-wide clashes, and the Boston Red Sox routinely played in hotel rooms after games. Those clubs even celebrated on-field feats with dances popularized by the cartoonish battle royale video game.Fortnite certainly didn’t slow the Red Sox or Astros. They matched up in the AL Championship Series, and Boston won the World Series.Major league managers don’t think Fortnite is a problem, necessarily. In fact, many are into the idea of bonding over slurp juice and boogie bombs. Just so long as players aren’t thinking about Tilted Towers when they should be prepping for the batter’s box.Montoyo, a longtime minor league manager who was most recently bench coach in Tampa Bay, anticipated making changes in Toronto when he took the job this offseason. The Blue Jays had a reputation as a gamer-friendly clubhouse last year while going 73-89.But when Montoyo met with a group of players to establish rules, he found the players were already planning to power down their PlayStations at the ballpark.Their idea: Institute a shutdown time for all clubhouse consoles — something that was fine by Montoyo. The time is yet to be finalized, but most likely, all games will be powered off within an hour of first pitch. As long as players are getting in their work, they’ll be free to play video games at any other time.First-year Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward established early that he’d be proactive on limiting gaming. He worked with veteran shortstop Elvis Andrus to establish rules on consoles and phones. Players can still do some gaming at the ballpark , but the message is clear.“I think that should be without saying that nobody should be playing a video game during a major league baseball game,” Woodward said.“I challenged them in a way that said, ‘If you are guys are more interested in video games than becoming champions, that’s on you guys,'” Woodward added. “It’s not a difficult thing to address when you put it in that light.”He also is asking players to be smart about playing games away from the park.“I’m not going to have rules that say you can’t play at night, but if you are playing until 6 or 7 in the morning, your performance is going to suffer on the baseball diamond, and if I find out about that, we will have a conversation,” Woodward said. “You can curtail that and say: ‘Maybe I will play until 1 or 1:30 in the morning. Then have a legitimate sleeping pattern that is consistent to maximize my performance on the baseball field.'”Cardinals manager Mike Shildt wasn’t concerned about gaming in St. Louis. He is leaving it to his players to make the best decisions.“Our clubhouse wouldn’t let that be a distraction,” Shildt said.Kapler is maintaining a similar stance. He worked with players to create gaming boundaries for the 2019 season but declined to elaborate. He is not eager to ban gaming if players don’t want it that way, in part because he wants players to be responsible for their own pre-game routines.“I don’t think there’s a right way or a wrong way to get ready for the game,” he said. “Manny Ramirez in Boston used to catch hell for sleeping on the training table very close to game time. He was kind of crazy like a fox, right? He was really smart, knew how to rest his body and get ready for the first pitch of the game.”

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