Opening day is right around the corner and the St. Louis Cardinals have made moves to finalize their roster. The 2018 Redbirds will have a few new additions to their everyday team, including some new and surprising names.
Yairo Munoz, a piece of the deal that sent Stephen Piscotty to Oakland has emerged as the diamond in the rough. While addressing its outfield clutter, the Cardinals were also able to upgrade their infield depth. Munoz gives the club an above-average defender who can play multiple positions, including shortstop. Munoz will take on a role that has become important on contending teams the super utility man. Players that can function in multiple spots on the field as well as the lineup have become essential to winning organizations. Ben Zobrist, Marwin Gonzalez, Kiki Hernandez are all recent examples of players that have played multiple positions and have made an impact on the roster. Munoz 2017 season showed the potential he can bring on the minor league level, blasting 13 homers while keeping his average at .300. The Cardinals are taking a bit of a gamble keeping up Munoz and essentially naming him as their 5th outfielder behind Fowler, Pham, Ozuna and presumably Jose Martinez. Munoz has shown the athletic ability to play the outfield, he has been primarily an infielder his professional career. Manager Mike Matheny made the choice of keeping Munoz on the team despite his history of sticking to "his guy", Munoz's spring training numbers were impossible to ignore, luckily for Cardinals fans they were not.
Mike Mayers, entered 2018 spring training still remembered in the minds of Cardinals fans for his infamous Dodgers game debut in 2016, giving up nine runs over 1 1/3 innings. Mayers, used primarily as a starter in the minors has found a role in the bullpen that seems to fit him. With an injury to projected closer Luke Gregerson, the Cardinals were able to keep the now triple digit throwing Mayers in the bullpen., still unproven on the major league level, will have to earn the trust of the skipper but if successful could move into a role that current bullpen mainstay Matt Bowman has mastered over the last two seasons. The added development of Mayers will allow Bowman to have a few more days off in the early part of the 2018 season. Mayers development of a stronger mound presence has led to 12 scoreless innings in the spring as well as a new philosophy to pitching
"I'm not just here to be here," Mayers said. "I'm here to dominate."
The common Cardinal fan will see Mayers on the Opening Day roster and remember the awful beginning to his career, but this is not the same Mike Mayers. This is the evolution of the pitcher formally known as Mike Mayers, now a fireballer that has no fear. Again the Cardinals have modernized their bullpen, utilizing former starters in their bullpen similar to Andrew Miller and Wade Davis.
Mike Mayers and Yairo Munoz may not factor into the Cardinals season in the longterm but the decision to have them both on the roster shows that the Cardinals are open to changing the way the build their roster, they are beginning to evolve.
The Cardinals kick off their season Thursday March 29 as they travel to Citi Field to take on the Mets. First Pitch set for 12:10PM.