ST. LOUIS • The Cardinals view returning center fielder Jon Jay as their starter at the position for 2015, and they expect him to be healthy and ready for spring training after having surgery on his left wrist this week.
Jay will have a scope to clear out damage in the wrist — damage the Cardinals revealed Monday that the outfielder had been dealing with since July.
Jay was the team's only .300 hitter in the regular season, and he led the team in hitting during the postseason with a .500 average in the National League championship series. Jay curtailed his workouts and work in the batting cage during the regular season as a result of the soreness in his wrist.
The reason for the limited workouts was not given until general manager John Mozeliak explained it in his postseason remarks Monday at the Busch Stadium media room.
Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny held their annual wrap of the season, and they spoke for nearly an hour about the season that was and the winter ahead for the club.
"All of us deem this a successful season," Mozeliak said in an opening statement before fielding questions. "There’s no doubt that when you get to the level that we play at, a World Championship is always the goal of where you set your sights.
"But having said that, being part of the Final Four of baseball is still a wonderful accomplishment, and it’s really a credit not only to our players and our Major League staff, but to our organization as a whole. You look at the history of the organization and what we’ve been able to accomplish over the last few years and it really shows you that it starts with having a quality scouting and player development department that gives us the players and the tools to succeed at this level. Mike and his staff have done a tremendous job of taking advantage of that and really positioning us to have the successful run that we did have."
Some topics covered:
• Oscar Taveras had meetings with Matheny and Mozeliak before leaving town, and the rookie was given specific instructions for his conditioning and speed work this winter. Taveras will spend November in Jupiter, Fla., at the team's facility with the teams strength and conditioning staff. He has been cleared, as reported, to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. The hope is he'll return in January to the complex in Florida to get a head start on spring training.
• Mozeliak said he sees Taveras and Randal Grichuk competing for the starting job in right field. Pressed on whether he could guarantee Taveras would be with the team after this winter, Mozeliak repeated the plan to have him compete for the starting job in right field and didn't see that changing via trade.
"I anticipate him competing for our right field opening day starter," Mozeliak said. "When we get to Jupiter next year, we’re going to know what he did and we’ll know if we can count on him or not."
• John Mabry, Derek Lilliquist and all of the coaches are expected back, Mozeliak said. They either have contracts for next season or have been offered the chance to return. Mike Aldrete, bench coach, is expected to be wooed by at least one other team, though Mozeliak said he has not had any of those teams follow the protocols of asking permission to talk to Aldrete.
• The team will look to add power in the offseason, but every team will be looking for power.
• Mozeliak did not rule out seeking a righthanded-hitting power source for the bench, or even for a complement to Matt Adams at first base.
• Adam Wainwright had a full battery of exams on his right elbow and the irritation inside it has not persisted to a point where he'll need a medical procedure. Rest has been prescribed. His schedule will be modified come spring training to save him some mileage before the season begins.
• Michael Wacha had an MRI on Friday to gauge the condition of the stress fracture within his right shoulder. It did not show anything beyond continued healing, Mozeliak said.
• The Cardinals will rethink the makeup of the bullpen when it comes to lefthanded relief. They will look to move Randy Choate this offseason. Mozeliak said that Choate's role is very "specialized" and that it was difficult as a result to get him the work that he desired during the regular season. The Cardinals would look for a lefty reliever who could do some of what Kevin Siegrist did at full strength or Marco Gonzales did in the postseason.
"I think we both feel that if we can upgrade there or have an additional arm to choose from, that makes sense," Mozeliak said. "We’re certainly not ruling out Siegrist. I think in Choate’s case, for us, he’s fairly one-dimensional. That makes it difficult for us to use him, particularly during a long season."
• Gonzales will come to spring training as a starter and his future is as a starter, but the Cardinals want to find a spot for him in the 2015 roster.
• Carlos Martinez will come to spring training as a starter, but Matheny stressed that the role and opening he sees for the righty is in the bullpen as a late-inning option. Mozeliak added that Martinez would be viewed as an option to take over for Pat Neshek in the eighth inning.
"Right now, you look at the starters we have in place and you see a Marco and how he’s progressed, how he’s impressed us all. You can see there is a spot for Carlos in that bullpen that looks pretty nice when it fits right. We’ll have him continue to prepare (to start), but there are only so many innings that we have in spring for starters. He’s always been an option, but we do like him in the back end of the bullpen."
• "We haven't closed to the door to anything," Mozeliak said of conversations with free agents. That list includes Neshek and former closer Jason Motte.
• Mozeliak was asked about whether Matt Adams projected for a full-time or part-time role.
"I think we would both envision him as a 600 plate appearance player," the GM said. "I think when you look at the balance of our club right now, unless we go out and augment a right-handed bat onto the team, where else would we go at first base? Would we look to do that? I’m not saying that’s first on our priority list, but that’s something we’ll definitely explore if we can find something."
• Mozeliak expected to tender offers to all the arbitration eligible players. He did not go into details beyond that. Left unsaid, however, was the likelihood that the Cardinals would check out the market in the next month or so before the decision. They will see what other teams are interested in Peter Bourjos and possibly Daniel Descalso.
Many more topics were discussed, so check back here throughout the afternoon as I make my way through the notes and continue transcribing. I'll fill in with quotes and facts as the afternoon progresses.