Playing Pepper with C70 of the Cards Conclave: The Return Job


For the last couple of seasons, our blog friend Cardinal70 (aka Daniel Shoptaw, follow his on Twitter @C70) of the blog Cards Conclave has been kind enough to invite The Brewers Bar to participate in their pre-season Playing Pepper feature.  You can read my answers to C70’s questions here.

Now the shoe is on the other foot – C70’s answers to my questions appear below. Big ups to C70 for being a mensch and sharing his thoughts without even a hint of smugness.

What’s it like following a team that doesn’t have anyone named “Magnifico” on the roster?  Related question: What Cardinals offseason moves did you like best/worst?

C70: It’s usually a lot of fun following the Cardinals, who have had their share of strange names over the years. (I mean, we had a Schumaker.  It’s no Magnifico, but it’s something.)  Obviously the run of success means that, more often than not, the day is going to end with a Cardinal win.  October’s not a given, but it is expected.  It’s fun, it’s what every fan wants, right?  Now, there are drawbacks, including the fact that all the ire that went to the Yankees in the past now seems to come St. Louis’s way, but we’ll take that side effect of continually winning.

The offseason wasn’t at all what Card fans had thought, though. What I liked least was not being able to land either Jason Heyward nor David Price.  The front office has a plan and I realize that other factors are involved, so I don’t particularly blame them, especially when they made more than competitive offers, but being that close and not getting one of them leaves a bad taste for the offseason.  There weren’t any real dramatic moves, though we’re going to be very interested to see how Japanese pitcher Seung Hwan Oh does in the bullpen this season.

The rivalry between the Cubs and the Cardinals dates back to late 19th century, and the Cubs just took the upper hand by ending the Cardinals’ 2015 season and THEN poaching Jason Heyward and John Lackey. It’s time for payback. How do you think the Cardinals will match up against Chicago in 2016?

C70: With all due respect to the Pirates, I think the division is between these two teams. The idea of the apocalypse actually coming and the Cubs winning the Series is probably closer than it ever has been (though I was pretty sure that whole Mark Prior/Kerry Wood run would get them a title as well, as we see how that played out.)  The Cubs are the favorites, which is not something you often say about the third place team of a year before, and I expect there are going to be some really great battles between the two teams over the course of the season.  They face each other six times in September, which may be where everything gets decided.

Adam Wainwright didn’t play in 2011 because he had the Tommy John, and now he’s coming back after missing most of 2015 due to injury. Does everyone assume he’ll just dominate as usual, or are St. Louis fans concerned about Wainwright’s durability in his mid-30’s?

C70: I think most folks are expecting a regular Adam Wainwright in 2016. Last year’s injury didn’t have anything to do with his arm, thankfully, and when he returned in a relief role before the end of the season and in the playoffs, he looked pretty much as you’d expect.  If the Cards had made it to the NLCS, I’m pretty sure Waino would have had a start.  While he is in his mid-30s and you do have to wonder about anyone at that age in baseball, he’s also basically got two fewer years on his arm because of his significant time away, so hopefully that’ll be a positive factor.

I’ll steal one of your questions: What player do you expect to make the greatest strides this year?

C70: Hey, there’s a reason I ask these questions instead of answering them! If you are just talking about comparing 2015 to 2016, I’m going to say Brandon Moss.  He’s farther away from his hip surgery of the 2014 offseason and he started looked more like a hitter that could contribute late in the season, even if the power wasn’t quite there yet.  My gut feeling is we’ll see more of him than Matt Adams at first, though that’s going to be a competition to watch in the spring.

Why not bat Kolten Wong leadoff? It might be fun.

C70: At the team’s Winter Warmup, Wong started campaigning for the role, but there are two big reasons why it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. The first is that Wong’s OBP was .321 last year and is .303 for his career.  He’s trending in the right direction, but he still needs to be able to get on base a little more often before he gets the keys to the top spot.

The second is, of course, Matt Carpenter does pretty well in that leadoff role. Whether it was coincidence or correlation, Carpenter slumped significantly when he was out of the first spot in the lineup last year and started clicking again when he was put back into it.  Given Mike Matheny and his managerial style, it’s going to take something really drastic to move Carp out of that spot again, I think.

What is your favorite beer available at Busch Stadium?

C70: As completely unbecoming of a person answering questions between these two teams and these two towns, I actually don’t drink, so I can’t answer that. I’ll drain the souvenir cups of Coke, though, you watch me.

Thanks again, Daniel! Don’t forget to follow @C70 on Twitter and check out Cards Conclave throughout the season.

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