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Molina back for 2022? Here's why it might make sense for the Cardinals

Molina back for 2022? Here's why it might make sense for the Cardinals

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Live from Jupiter, here are the highlights of our weekly baseball chat with Post-Dispatch readers.

Cardinals hold first full team workout of 2021

St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Tyler Webb (30) jokes with catcher Ivan Herrera (47) and bullpen coach Bryan Eversgerd (72) during Cardinals spring training at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Photo by Colter Peterson

Q: What do you see taking place in the transition from Yadier Molina to Ivan Herrera or Andrew Knizner at catcher, and will the Cardinals need Molina beyond 2021 for it to go smoothly?

A: The first thing is that John Mozeliak made it clear the other day that he expects Molina to relinquish some of his accustomed playing time this season to Knizner. But, if Herrera is the heir apparent -- and I think he is – then Molina is needed for one more year after this one, his body and mind willing, to school Herrera for the takeover in 2023.

Q: Your opinion of the trade if Nolan Arenado opts out after one year?

A: It's still a good trade. The Cardinals are trying to win this year. And I'd be astonished if Arenado opted out after one year.

Follow-up: How is Matt Carpenter handling the Nolan Arenado trade, since it cost Carpenter the third-base job?

St. Louis Cardinals warm up for Game 2

Matt Carpenter  works on his swing during practice. Photo by Laurie Skrivan

A: Carpenter, a good friend of Arenado's … likes the trade because it makes the Cardinals better. Carpenter needs to show he can hit with authority again. Then, he knows he will play somewhere. He can't be disgruntled about lack of playing time until he shoves that average well over .200 and his OPS close or into the .800s again.

Carp is not a disrupter and he will accept whatever role he has but he knows he has to produce a lot more to have any role. All sorts of things happen during a season nowadays, from COVID to injury and in between. As John Mozeliak put it, "If you hit, you play."

Q: Are you more concerned about a rotation that is long on quantity but short on quality, or an outfield that will be staffed again by tryout suspects?

A: I'm concerned about quality of the rotation at the top after Jack Flaherty and the entire outfield offensively. My concerns are in that order.

Q: Who is the Cardinals’ best pure athlete?

A: I would say Harrison Bader or Dylan Carlson. Adam Wainwright, of course, would say Wainwright.

Thursday workout at Cardinals spring training

Carlos Martinez  throws from the bullpen mound last season. Photo by Laurie Skrivan

Q: Is Cardinals’ management putting all its eggs in the Carlos Martinez basket? … I don’t think he has earned the team’s trust to make the starting rotation.

A: I don't think management is putting any eggs in Carlos' basket. More likely management is taking the approach of being pleasantly surprised if he bounces back.

Q: Do you sense the relationship between Jack Flaherty and the front office has soured since his arbirtration hearing? Will the Cards eventually have to trade him?

A: Not really soured, but they're somewhat at arm's length. The thing to remember is Flaherty is under control for three more seasons, and the Cardinals expect to compete for a title in all of those seasons, as it stands now. Flaherty could help greatly in that endeavor. If he gets away after that, well ...

Q: How do you see the starting pitching lining up?

A: Jack Flaherty, Kwang-hyun Kim, Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and the other starter or two would come from Carlos Martinez, John Gant or Alex Reyes.

Cardinals hold first full team workout of 2021

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) walks to the screening tent during Cardinals spring training at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.  Photo by Colter Peterson

Q: I am concerned about what Adam Wainwright’s numbers will look like when the team asks him to start 25-plus games. … If his ERA balloons and the good starts come further and further apart, will the team slow his workload down?

A: Of course, the team -- and Wainwright -- would react to a dip in performance. Wainwright doesn't want to take up space if he can't pitch to his satisfaction. He would retire if he felt poorly about what he was doing.

Q: Your thoughts on the three-batter rule?

A: I don't like it. If you aren't happy with your reliever facing more than one hitter, he shouldn't have to. The rule did not have its intended effect on game times, which got even longer.

Cardinals face Royals in exhibition game

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Edmundo Sosa makes a throw to first last seson. Photo by Colter Peterson

Q: Is there a chance Edmundo Sosa can win the opening-day second base job? Tommy Edman is still an option for the outfield if none of the others can hit, right?

A: I do not see Sosa as a regular player this year, but I do see him as a bench player. The Cardinals' bench could be pretty good if a healthy and productive Matt Carpenter is on it, and if Lane Thomas, say, becomes a good fourth outfielder.

Rick Hummel

@cmshhummel on Twitter

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