|By Jeff Gordon, St. Louis Post-Dispatch|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Many relievers who participated in the 2013 spring training have either moved on to new teams or assumed bigger roles on this squad. This creates fresh challenges for their young replacements -- and the next wave of prospects moving in behind them.
The organization must firm up its 2014 bullpen and rebuild its near-term depth.
Last spring the Cardinals started with a veteran bullpen, backed by an army of near-term prospects.
Much has changed in a year.
This spring, Boggs is a free agent drawing interest from several teams. Mujica (Red Sox), Rzepczysnki (Indians), Salas (Angels), Sanchez (
Normally, that sort of turnover would be problematic. After all, Mujica stepped up to save 37 games last season after Motte needed elbow surgery. He was one of the team's MVPs.
Boggs appeared in 190 games during a three-year span and was 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 68 games in 2012. Rzepczysnki pitched in 70 games in 2012 and offered long relief and spot-starting potential. Salas saved 24 games back in 2011. Axford saved 81 games during a two-season span in
That is a lot of proven talent to leave a roster within a year. Previous
This team seems just fine, given the brilliant work of youngsters Trevor Rosenthal,
But the turnover does raise some issues about depth. Here are some key prospects to track this spring, keeping in mind that starting pitching prospects often break into the big leagues as relievers: