The recent acquisitions of righthanded relievers Jordan Walden and Matt Belisle almost ensure that young Carlos Martinez finally will get a full-fledged shot as a Cardinals starter next spring. Amid that scenario, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Wednesday that the club wasn’t really in the market now for any additional starting help.
“I don’t feel that’s something we have to do,” said Mozeliak. “The way we’re structured, we really want to do something where we create an opportunity for Carlos.
“That’s why we’ve addressed the bullpen the way we have. As that (starting) market develops, we’ll definitely be on the sidelines watching.”
Martinez, 23, appeared in 57 games last season but only seven as a starter as he compiled a 2-4 mark with one save and a 4.03 earned-run average.
“The thing that will separate him from being an average starter to a great starter is consistency,” Mozeliak told reporters. “What I mean by that is that he has high pitch counts quickly.
“He didn’t show the ability to go deep into games where you almost felt like you were penalizing your bullpen. For him to be one of the five, he’s got to change that. But the way he’s looking at this opportunity is he has something to prove. He wants to be ‘that guy.’ Given the moves we’ve made, we want to see him have that opportunity.”
Lefthanded rookie Marco Gonzales, impressive in relief in the postseason last season, will be told to compete as a starter this spring, too, said Mozeliak, but could end up in the bullpen again. Incidentally, the GM said he was satisfied with his lefthanded relief, noting a late-season improvement from veteran specialist Randy Choate (except for one bad postseason throw) and presuming good health from Kevin Siegrist, a bulwark on the 2013 World Series team.
Belisle, who has been with Colorado and Cincinnati, joined the club on Tuesday in a one-year deal and Mozeliak said, “He’s somebody we identified early on in the free-agent process.
“We were looking for a veteran presence in our (bull)pen. We were looking for someone who could ultimately pitch in multiple roles.
“When you look at our current setup in our bullpen with Rosey (Trevor Rosenthal), Walden and (Seth) Maness, we feel pretty confident about 9-8-7 (innings). But you can’t go with that every day,” Mozeliak said. “So you’re going to need some flexibility.”
Belisle, 34, can pitch multiple innings, if necessary, said Mozeliak. “The greatest compliment you can give Matt Belisle is he loves to pitch. He likes the ball, wants the ball. He isn’t someone who focuses on what inning (he is) in. He’s open for business.”
The window is closed, however, for Daniel Descalso.
Descalso was a key member of four straight National League championship series teams and two World Series clubs in his four-plus years with the Cardinals. For that reason, and others, it was hard for Mozeliak to make that phone call to northern California on Tuesday night, telling the arbitration-eligible Descalso that he wouldn’t be offered a contract by the club for next season.
“Difficult,” said Mozeliak. “Dan was one of those true professionals but he was also someone you would call a friend.
“Whatever you asked of him, he would always do it. He always went out of his way to say, ‘Hello.’ From a baseball player to a person, he did a lot of positive things for us. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to provide the type of playing time he was looking for. And, frankly, I think it could have become a strained relationship if we’d kept going with it.”
Descalso, who batted .242 in a reduced role last season, is a lefthanded-hitting infielder and Mozeliak said, “To try to get him playing time when your second baseman (Kolten Wong) is lefthanded and when your third baseman (Matt Carpenter) is lefthanded, it was a tough fit.
“He understood what was happening and was appreciative of the experience and everything he got from the St. Louis Cardinals. But he also was looking forward to a new chapter perhaps where he could have more of an impact on a club.”
Mozeliak admitted he had tried to trade Descalso, rather than not getting anything in return. “I definitely ran it up the flag pole a little bit but I didn’t feel it was something that was close at any point.”
Addressing the promotion Tuesday of Chris Correa to scouting director from director of baseball development, Mozeliak said he was more comfortable staying within the organization when he felt he had a good fit.
“I didn’t want somebody to come in here and try to re-invent the wheel, frankly,” said Mozeliak. “I think we do a pretty good job at it.”
As for former staff ace Chris Carpenter, who had worked in the organization in various capacities last season in his first year of retirement, Mozeliak said there didn’t seem a fit and confirmed what Carpenter had told others: that he wouldn’t be with the club next year.
“He had brought it to my attention last summer that this was going to be something that was going to be very difficult for him to continue to do,” said Mozeliak, who added that former relief star Jason Isringhausen, on the other hand, will take on a more significant role as a minor league pitching instructor next year.
“In Carp’s case, he wasn’t ready to truly commit to the job. For all of you who know Chris Carpenter, it’s all-in or prefer to be all-out,” said Mozeliak.
TICKETS ON SALE FRIDAY
Cardinals ticket sales for next season will begin Friday at noon.
Fans can purchase single game all-inclusive (food and beverage) tickets or choose from a variety of five and 10-game ticket packs centered around promotional items and key matchups.
Tickets will be available online at cardinals.com, by phone at 314-345-9000 or at the Busch Stadium ticket windows on Eighth Street.