Cardinals beat reporter Jen Langosch hosted a live web chat with fans on Friday. Among the topics she covered were Chris Carpenter's neck injury, life after Albert Pujols for the Cards and how the team is reacting to its new coaching staff as it prepares to defend its World Series title.
Jen_Langosch: First off, welcome to my first chat as your Cardinals beat writer for MLB.com. Thanks for joining me this morning; you can start sending in your questions now. I'll try to get to as many as I can while you all anxiously await Adam Wainwright's spring debut later in the day.
NoCubsNo: Any update on Carp's neck?
Jen_Langosch: Chris Carpenter arrived and then left camp this morning to have his neck evaluated again. He has been dealing with neck stiffness for a few days now, and it forced him to miss a side session earlier this week. He did not throw on Friday, either, which means that Carpenter is unlikely to make his Grapefruit League debut early next week. The club is expected to issue a more thorough update on Carpenter's status over the weekend.
gopinebrothers: Who do the Cards anticipate replacing Carpenter with on the short term? I am a pessimist and I was surprised Carp made it through the playoffs.
Jen_Langosch: Though the Cardinals have likely already come up with Plan B and C, they still have some time before they'd have to enact either. Carpenter made only three spring starts last year and was fine. He was likely only going to make, at most, four this spring. If Carpenter is going to be out for any length of time, then the Cards could turn to someone like Kyle McClellan or Brandon Dickson to fill a rotation spot early in the season. Or there's the possibility the club looks externally for help. Roy Oswalt, perhaps?
California_RedBirds: Hello Jen. First off, I want to say thanks for all of the new Cardinals articles! OK, my question for you is who do you think wins the starting job at 2nd? My gut feeling right now is Daniel Descalso because of his spring so far, but you are the professional ...
Jen_Langosch: The Cardinals are going to give Tyler Greene every opportunity to win that second-base job. He's already logged more time there this spring than either Descalso or Skip Schumaker, and he has so far looked capable defensively. He'll have to show that he can handle himself offensively, but it will be hard for Greene to do so unless he first gets a crack at playing every day. Schumaker and Descalso also have value as versatile bench players if they don't win the starting job.
ralcards: Haven't we created a logjam in the outfield with Beltran?
Jen_Langosch: Having surplus is never ever a bad thing. Unfortunately, injuries or ineffectiveness oftentimes take care of what initially might appear to be a logjam . The Cards will have four outfielders when Allen Craig returns, but this will give manager Mike Matheny flexibility to play to matchups and give some of his veterans (Beltran, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday) needed days off. These situations almost always work themselves out.
jasetech: Hi Jen! Welcome to St. Louis! A lot of big changes happened in the off season (Pujols, LaRussa, Duncan). Are you getting the impression from any of the players that they are concerned that too much happened too soon, and they are uncertain what to expect?
Jen_Langosch: Not at all. This is a clubhouse that enjoys extensive veteran leadership, and there has been no pity party, of sorts, after a tumultuous offseason. Matheny and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist have made a smooth transition into their roles. And even with the loss of Albert Pujols, several players believe this 2012 team is built to be an even better regular season club than the one last year. Much of that has to do with Beltran coming in and Adam Wainwright coming back.
darian134: Hello from Morehead, Kentucky. I would like to know how the new coaching staff is working together in their new roles, and has the team responded to their leadership?
Jen_Langosch: Manager Mike Matheny has brought together a group of coaches that seem to very much be on the same page. Obviously, returning coaches like Mark McGwire and Jose Oquendo have helped ease Matheny's transition. Bench coach Mike Aldrete has played a large role in assisting Matheny with workout schedules and logistics. And because he spent so much time watching former pitching coach Dave Duncan, Lilliquist has stepped right in and kept much of the pitchers' routines the same. If you didn't know better, you'd guess this group had been working together much longer than it actually has.
fumbler: Do you think Matt Adams makes his debut with the Cards in 2012? Does he get the first shot if Berkman gets hurt?
Jen_Langosch: I think there's a good chance you could see Adams in St. Louis before the end of the year. But on Opening Day? Doubtful. Adams has gotten off to a tremendous start here, but he's likely destined to be the everyday first baseman in Triple-A. If Berkman was to get injured, the Cardinals could opt to put Craig over at first. Or they could call up Adams. How Adams fares in the step up to Triple-A will affect his timetable.
pony32: Are the Cards an early pick to win the Central?
Jen_Langosch: As defending World Series champs, the Cardinals certainly enter the season as the hunted. If you look solely at talent, yes, I think you'd pick the Cardinals as the favorite. However, health is going to be a huge factor in how this team ultimately fares. With several veteran players in their mid-30s, the Cardinals could be susceptible to injury issues. There are also a lot of unknowns, headlined by Wainwright's return from elbow surgery. I'd also say beware of the Reds, who could be a serious threat for a division crown.
YoUrPuJoLs: Are Yadi and Berkman working on that pickoff to 1st? Molina and Albert had that down pretty well.
Jen_Langosch: To this point, Berkman and Molina haven't had a ton of time to work together. Berkman has been on the field for just three innings of Grapefruit League play thus far. The two will be on the field together more as the month progresses, and you shouldn't expect any issues with pickoffs. With 700 career starts at first, Berkman can handle the position well.
kenkraly10: Jen , What is it like working for the St. Louis Cardinals and cardinals.com after working so long for pirates.com?
Jen_Langosch: The easiest part of the transition was that the job is essentially the same. My duties as a beat writer haven't changed -- only my subject has. Much of this first month has been spent getting to know people, as relationships are key in being able to do this job well. I've tried to immerse myself in Cardinals history, and my knowledge of the organization's background will improve with time. It was a change for me to walk into a clubhouse dominated by veteran players. There are noticeable and immediate expectations here with this team because of how good they've been in recent years.
UnidentifiedFish: As far as fan experience goes, what's the biggest difference between attending a Spring Training game and a regular season game?
Jen_Langosch: Spring Training is a much more intimate experience than the regular season. Obviously, the stadiums are much smaller, but also players are much more easily available for autographs. Even if you don't go to a game, fans can go watch workouts on the back fields of spring complexes for free. One word of warning for those who are making their first trip to Spring Training -- Don't be surprised if you know only a few of the players actually playing. Your Major Leaguers don't play every day, and often they only play the first few innings of a game.
pujols141: If you were to guess a few prospects that will be in Quad Cities other than Jenkins who would it be? And do you think Greene will get the starting job? Thanks.
Jen_Langosch: As mentioned above, yes, on the part of your question about Greene. As for the low-A Quad Cities roster, look for it to have several players taken in the 2011 Draft. The Cardinals could send first-rounder Kolten Wong up to high-A immediately since he got some experience in Quad Cities last year. But I would expect that 2011 second-rounder Charlie Tilson will join Tyrell Jenkins on that team.
Jen_Langosch: OK, I'm going to take two more questions before wrapping up today's chat.
UnidentifiedFish: What's your opinion of Molina's contract? Did the Cardinals pay him more than they had to?
Jen_Langosch: If Molina stays healthy, questions about whether the Cardinals paid too much will be erased. The concern is that, particularly because of what position he plays, Molina won't be as durable as he is now toward the end of his contract. That's how such a contract would become an albatross. The Cardinals were willing -- and seemingly justified -- to pay Molina for his defense. They are just gambling that the Majors' most durable catcher since 2009 doesn't eventually become injury-prone.
bsugrad: I know this is a little off the subject, but I've heard you're a diehard Missouri Tigers fan. What do you think about their chances in the NCAA MBB Tournament this year?
Jen_Langosch: Had to end with this. Sorry. I am a proud Mizzou grad, and it's been fun to follow their season thus far. Perhaps I'm biased, but I do believe that the Tigers have one of the most talented teams in the country this year. What will be key in the tournament, though, is matchup. As you saw in their games against Kansas State, this Mizzou team can have trouble with too much size on the other side. Keeping Ricardo Ratliffe out of foul trouble will be crucial, too. I'm certainly looking forward to a deep run by Mizzou this year.
Jen_Langosch: Thanks again to all who participated. We'll try to do another one of these live chats soon. In the meantime, enjoy seeing Wainwright get back on the mound this afternoon.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.