Cardinals look ahead to fast-approaching season at 18th annual Winter Warm-Up

Yadier Molina signs a photo for a fan during the first day of the Cardinals' 18th annual Winter Warm-Up.

 

Bill Greenblatt

ST. LOUIS — Chris Carpenter is joining the Cardinals’ front office. Jhonny Peralta is happy to be here. Oscar Taveras has buffed up and says he’ll be ready to roll by spring training. The Cardinals are opening a Hall of Fame at Ballpark Village.

And those were just the highlights, some of them anyway, from the first day of the Cardinals Winter Warm-Up at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch.

You want details? We’ve got ’em right here:

On Carpenter’s new job: Although the big right-hander has yet to officially address his retirement, a retirement party was held for him Friday night and he’s met with John Mozeliak about a position in the front office. So he’s done as a pitcher.

And he knows what’s next. His job still needs a title and not all the details have been worked out, but Carpenter will be staying with the organization in a front-office capacity.

"I’m looking at constructing a job description for him," Mozeliak said. "I know he’s excited to do something for the organization. It’s not in uniform. He wants, for the first year, to get exposure to what happens upstairs. We’re going to try to come up with a curriculum for him that allows him to get exposure to the different elements of our front office. I welcome that. I’ve known him for a long time. His insights could be valuable."

On the new shortstop: Peralta admittedly is a quiet guy who, he says, you won’t see "jumping around" a lot on the baseball field. But he’s had his eyes on the Cardinals’ organization for a long time and was thrilled when the club called him.

"The Cardinals need somebody to play shortstop and the offense was more important for them right now," Peralta said. "I have a couple of opportunities to go to a different place but this is one of the teams I want to (play for). It’s a great organization, a lot of opportunity to be a champion. I want to be a champion, too."

He also wants to put behind last year’s 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Since the day he was suspended, Peralta has admitted he made a mistake and has done whatever he could to move forward. He knows he has to plenty to prove.

"I want to show the fans that it’s not what everybody thinks about it," Peralta said, in English that’s a little uneven. "I did wrong, really bad. I’ve got to show to people I can (play), I can help."

Peralta wasn’t sure the Detroit Tigers would welcome him back after his suspension but they did and he made the most of his chance. He hit .311 in 13 games, including the playoffs, to finish the season at .305 with 12 homers and a .358 OBP.

On Taveras: He spent the past week rehabbing and training at Busch Stadium, offering the Cardinals a chance to check his surgically-repaired right ankle. He still hasn’t been cleared to run — not all out, anyway — but he’s clearly been spending time in the weight room.

"He absolutely looks great," Mozeliak said. "From a physical standpoint, he’s in the best shape of his life. By the time we get to spring training, he should be cleared to run 100 percent."

From what Mozeliak said, Taveras will go to Jupiter with a chance to make the big-league team, though not necessarily a great chance. Because his ankle injury limited him to 188 at-bats last season, and he’s only 21, he could benefit from more seasoning at Memphis.

A huge spring could complicate the club’s decision but at this point, Mozeliak said, "The club needs to look at what is best for him."

"Is it better to get 15 at-bats in the big leagues or 45 at Triple A," Mozeliak asked, rhetorically. "At his age and where he’s at, development is critical. Having said that, we also have to look at how is the club composed. Could we use him in a more functional manner (in the big leagues)? I don’t think any of us know the answer on Jan. 18 but by the time we get into mid-March, we should."

On the new Cardinals’ Hall of Fame: Why are there 22 members in the inaugural class? That’s the number of players, managers, executives and broadcasters who have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown or have had their number retired (or microphone, in the case of Jack Buck).

The club plans to add at least three new Hall of Famers every year, with the initial class inducted scheduled to be inducted Aug. 16. A Cardinals-appointed committee will nominate six to 10 players who meet the qualifications of having played for the Cardinals for at least three seasons and have been retired from the majors for at least three years. Fans will vote online to determine the two players who will be inducted.

The committee will als oselect one veteran (defined as a player who has been retired more than 40 years) each year and the club also will induct an individual who is deemed "an important figure in Cardinals history."

The Hall of Fame will be located in the Cardinal Nation restaurant at the new Ballpark Village. It is scheduled to open in early April.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter (@stanmcneal) or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.