Who will be moved from the Cardinals' active player roster to make room for Matt Adams when he returns?
-- Brian D., Duluth, Minn.
The answer is Jermaine Curtis -- and actually, he's already left the club. Curtis started at third base for Triple-A Memphis on Monday, an indication that Adams should be activated off the disabled list by the time the Cardinals play on Tuesday. The Cards were clear that Curtis' stay with the big league club would be a short one. He ended up having three plate appearances.
Does Mike Matheny take into account any of the typical sabermetric statistics when constructing game plans and making player decisions? Why isn't this more prevalent in the organization?
-- Joel S., St. Louis
Yes, the Cardinals incorporate sabermetrics and advanced analytics throughout the organization. It is used in helping to determine Draft strategies, player acquisitions and player-development approaches. Information is also passed down to Matheny and the coaching staff -- with the understanding that it is then up to the staff to determine how to incorporate it into game strategies. It is not forced upon Matheny, but the information is there.
You can see Matheny use it, too, in his use of defensive shifts and lineup decisions. It is not as pronounced as, say, the Astros and Rays, but it is utilized. The Cards have had an analytics department within their front office for the past decade, and they continue to develop new ways to quantify various aspects of the game.
Let's say Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski improve at Triple-A, but Seth Maness and Carlos Martinez continue doing well in the Majors. What happens -- meaning who goes and who stays?
-- Meghan D., Jupiter Fla.
In reading between the lines of last week's comments, it sounds as if the Cardinals will handle the situations of both relievers differently. There was clearly an expectation that assuming Boggs can get his mechanics right and his confidence up, his stay in Memphis will be short. The same was not explicitly said of Rzepczynski, who seemingly has more to prove in terms of both attitude and effectiveness.
As for who will be squeezed out to make room when Boggs is ready, that will have a lot to do with how Maness and Martinez fare in the meantime. If all else is seemingly equal, there would seem to be value in keeping Martinez -- the latest in a growing line of young power arms -- in the 'pen this season because of his ability to overpower in short stints. Maness could then return to Triple-A, where he would be stretched back out in case a starting-pitching need arises.
Is there any thought to bringing up Kolten Wong sooner rather than later? I love Daniel Descalso's effort and glove, but his batting efficiency is well below Major League standards.
-- Ryan M., Colorado
At this point, I see Wong's promotion tied more to what David Freese does (or doesn't do) than to Descalso's production. I say that because the Cardinals clearly desire to have Matt Carpenter as an everyday player. And as long as Freese is productive and healthy, that opens second base as the spot where Carpenter can continue to start. Descalso has already slid back into a backup utility role behind Carpenter.
With Freese's 6-for-16 start to this road trip, he is seemingly building some positive momentum on the offensive end. But if for some reason the production wanes again for a sustained length of time, that is when, perhaps, the Cards consider moving Carpenter to third more often and looking at other options at second. One of those would have to be Wong.
Through Sunday, Wong was hitting .281 with a .306 on-base percentage.
I was wondering if the Cardinals were looking at any free-agent arms for the bullpen. It seems guys like Brian Wilson would come fairly cheap with minimal risk, so it would makes sense for them to try and get him.
-- Ty G., Liberty, Mo.
Whether it is making additions through the free-agent market or the trade one, the relief pitchers available this early in the season are pretty underwhelming. General manager John Mozeliak characterized the current trade market as one that "consists of designated players and waiver claims." That's hardly going to help.
You are not the first to suggest Wilson as a possible addition, but Wilson is reportedly not yet fully recovered from Tommy John surgery -- which he underwent last April. According to a piece by ESPN's Jayson Stark last week, Wilson has told clubs he will not throw in front of them until he is back to full strength. That does not make him a quick-fix option.
As you have seen with the recent additions of Maness and Martinez, the Cardinals do have a saturated supply of young arms in the Minors from which they can try to find help. They found gems last year with Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly. The hope is that this year's bullpen can be settled in a similar way.
Why are practically all of the pitchers only throwing up to 100 pitches? Why don't they just let them pitch and quit babying them?
-- Elena D., Sullivan, Mo.
Actually, Matheny has had a far looser rein on his starting pitchers this year than last. The starters have thrown at least 100 pitches in 15 of 31 games. Through 31 games last season, that total was seven.
It is worth noting, though, that the higher pitch counts are not necessarily the reflection of a positive trend, as the Cardinals' starters have actually been less efficient than last year. Despite the discrepancy in 100-pitch starts between this year and last, the rotation has logged only five more innings in 2013 than it did through the first 31 games in 2012.
Last season, the Cards averaged 14.7 pitches per inning. This year, it is nearly a pitch an inning higher at 15.6. That's not to discount how dominant St. Louis' staff has been -- its 2.21 ERA is easily the Majors' best -- but it is to serve as a reminder that pitch count is not always the most reflective number when trying to determine dominance.