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For five years, United States Naval Academy graduate Mitch Harris sailed around the world and watched his dreams of playing professional baseball grow even more remote than the exotic locales he visited. Now, he's back on the mound, weeks away from his 29th birthday and a level or two from the Major Leagues.
The Cardinals appear on the verge of gaining two new spring neighbors, as the Board of County Commissioners in Palm Beach County, Fla., approved financing for the Nationals and Astros to build a Spring Training facility in the county on Tuesday. The organizations now have 90 days to select a site for the complex, which will be a close commute for the Cardinals, who share a Spring Training facility with the Marlins in Jupiter.
Based solely on the endpoint, the Cardinals essentially did as most expected them to in 2014, a year in which they entered as overwhelming favorites to repeat as National League Central champions.
Describing the organization's offseason strategy as opportunistic, general manager John Mozeliak is expected to seek bullpen and bench depth this offseason while relying on returning players to fill the rotation and starting position player spots.
The only truly unsettled spot as the Cardinals begin to project their eight starting position players for next spring is right field, though it is also a position that the organization believes can be filled internally. The Cardinals will consider Randal Grichuk, Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty for that job.
Unless any of manager Mike Matheny's coaches choose to take a position elsewhere, the Cardinals anticipate retaining their full coaching staff for 2015. Most members of the staff are already under contract for next season, and general manager John Mozeliak indicated on Monday that any who aren't will be offered an opportunity to return.
Jon Jay will have his left wrist scoped on Wednesday in order to address an injury that occurred about three months ago. As for other injuries, the Cards expect Yadier Molina (left oblique strain, right thumb injury) and Adam Wainwright (right elbow discomfort) to return in spring at full strength.
By their nature, long baseball seasons always end abruptly for the good teams that play their way into October, and for more than 100 years, when the final pitch has been thrown and the clubhouse disappointment is heavy, the manager gathers his players to tell them to walk away proud. That is precisely the message Mike Matheny delivered to the final gathering of the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals late Thursday.
While general manager John Mozeliak won't let the winter pass without trying to fill some holes, the Cardinals are fortunate in that they won't have many of them. Just three players on their postseason roster (Pat Neshek, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Ellis) are eligible for free agency, and only Neshek played a prominent role for this team. Jason Motte and Justin Masterson round out the Cardinals' free-agent class.
Nineteen days had come and gone without Michael Wacha throwing a meaningful pitch before he stepped into the center of the baseball universe on Thursday to throw the most important pitches of the Cardinals' season. One hundred and seventy-one more days will pass before Opening Day 2015, leaving plenty of time to dissect whether the Cardinals made the right choice.
The sold-out crowd at AT&T Park was still abuzz on Thursday after Joe Panik gave the Giants a lead in the bottom of the third inning in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series with a two-run home run. Matt Adams, a big factor in the Cardinals' Game 4 loss because of his two fielding gaffes that led to runs, sucked the air out of the place with one mighty swing just a half-inning later.
A second straight trip to the Fall Classic was not in the cards this year for St. Louis, but it was not for a lack of inspired performance by Jon Jay, one of nine current Cardinals who's been present for all four of the club's consecutive runs to the NLCS.
Like the Giants, the Cardinals were a team that had trouble making the pieces fit in a rollercoaster of a season. Like the Giants, the Cardinals kept pushing and fighting and clawing. They did themselves proud on a bunch of different levels. In a magical postseason, the Giants just had a bit more.
Facing elimination, the Cardinals handed the ball to their ace on Thursday without any hint of trepidation even though he's scuffled during these playoffs. But in Game 5 at AT&T Park, and with St. Louis needing a victory to stay alive in the National League Championship Series against the Giants, he looked like his old self.
Without a doubt, losing Yadier Molina to an oblique injury hurt the Cardinals during the National League Championship Series. The veteran catcher sat out the final three contests -- three losses on the road to the Giants. But Tony Cruz, a backup who has soaked up plenty from Molina in four years, did all he could in Thursday's 6-3 loss in Game 5 to make the Cards forget what they were missing.
For the second time in three games in the NLCS, San Francisco walked off with a win over St. Louis. This time, Travis Ishikawa's three-run homer in the ninth inning propelled the Giants to a 6-3 win in Game 5 on Thursday night and a World Series matchup against the Royals. Here's what you need to know about the Giants' win.
The Cardinals' 90-win season -- one in which they secured a second straight NL Central title by overcoming several key injuries and an inconsistent offense -- ended with a 6-3 walk-off loss in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday. Travis Ishikawa delivered the game-winning hit in the ninth -- a walk-off three-run homer into Levi's Landing -- off reliever Michael Wacha.
The St. Louis Cardinals cannot possibly be the same team without the services of catcher Yadier Molina. And yet, in the exalted realm of October baseball, this cannot be an all-purpose excuse. In fact, the Cardinals are 0-2 in the National League Championship Series games in which Molina has been absent since he sustained a left oblique strain. But the way the Cardinals lost these two games did not point to Molina's absence as the chief culprit.
While it's difficult to gripe about the Cardinals' early-inning performance, they certainly could have had more against Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong. In hindsight, two double plays off the bat of Jhonny Peralta in the first and third frames are tough to swallow.
The St. Louis Cardinals look across the diamond at the San Francisco Giants and see themselves. At least, they see the team they were for most of the season.
The Cardinals as a whole were reliable defensively during the regular season, trailing only the Reds in defensive runs saved. But first baseman Matt Adams' missteps were not the first instance in Game 4, or in the series, of the Cardinals' typically stout defense letting them down.
Starter Shelby Miller, making his second career playoff start, allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings in his shortest outing since June 24 and let the Giants right back into Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park.
That short and compact swing that Kolten Wong keeps trying to replicate continues to produce big things for the Cardinals during this postseason. The Cardinals' second baseman, small in stature but large on results, drilled two more extra-base hits in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday against the Giants, including his second home run of the series. It wasn't enough, however, as the Cardinals dropped Game 4 and fell into a 3-1 series hole.
The Giants' 6-4 verdict in Game 4 of the NLCS for a 3-1 lead was baffling on the face of it. The Giants had one extra-base hit -- Gregor Blanco's leadoff double in the first off the glove of center fielder Jon Jay -- when they overcame a one-run deficit with three sixth-inning runs. Another double would come from Brandon Crawford in the seventh. The Cards' defense caved, but that's what can happen when pressure is applied. Here are five things we learned from Game 4.
San Francisco rode six innings of shutout relief and a three-run sixth inning to win, 6-4, on Wednesday night and take a commanding 3-1 series lead over St. Louis. Here's what you need to know about the Giants' victory.
Manager Mike Matheny meets the media after the Cardinals' 6-4 loss to the Giants in Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday.
A twisting slide at second base allowed outfielder Hunter Pence to steal a bag in the fifth inning of the Giants' 6-4 win in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday, despite Cardinals catcher A.J. Pierzynski's throw beating him to the spot. Second-base umpire Bill Miller called Pence safe, and the call was confirmed after a review.
Because manager Mike Matheny has abstained from tinkering with any of his other starting position players, catching remains the only position at which he had much of a decision to make for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday. He eventually settled with veteran A.J. Pierzynski over lifetime Cardinal Tony Cruz.
Again undone by plays not made and hampered by a short Shelby Miller start and a generous 'pen, the Cardinals surrendered a three-run lead to the Giants, who scored five unanswered runs to steal a 6-4 Game 4 win on Wednesday night. The victory, which came in a packed AT&T Park, moves San Francisco a win away from knocking the Cardinals out of the NLCS for the second time in three years.
Randy Choate's sailing throw capped a 10th inning in which the Giants manufactured the winning run on a walk, unsuccessful sacrifice and a bunt that ended up in the Cardinals' bullpen. It all left the Cards stung by a 5-4 loss at AT&T Park and staring into a 2-1 series hole with two more games still on tap in San Francisco.
News provided by stlcardinals.com

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