Inside the Nation: Why Kelly makes sense as 5th starter

By Stephen Nations

(KSDK Sports) -- Without much really big news, yet a lot of smaller developments happening over the last week, today's post is going to be game-show-lightning-round style. Feel free to blurt out the answers as soon as you know them.

- Unless you've been living in a proverbial cave, you probably know that Joe Kelly has been tabbed for the 5th starting position. This seems to have ruffled some feathers across Cardinal Nation, which is understandable from the perspective of wanting the absolute best pitcher possible on the mound. If you're looking at it from the perspective of wanting what's best for the team now with an eye on what's best for the future, this is probably the right move.

Is Carlos Martinez capable of starting the big leagues right now? Definitely. Would he benefit from being brought along slowly through the bullpen and then stretching his arm out in Memphis? Probably. Joe Kelly is a good pitcher. He doesn't have the eye-popping stuff or potential that CMart does, but we are spoiled with arms here in Birdland. Kelly is legitimately a No. 3 or 4 starter on an average club and has the potential for impact. He makes pitchers, works with a game plan, and has a bulldog mentality on the mound, going right at hitters with an array of sinkers and sliders that break to varying degrees. He can dial up his fastball in to the mid-to-high 90's when he needs to. He can handle a bat and is the best base runner on the pitching staff. He fields his position well. Joe might not have been your first choice, but he's a darn fine choice none-the-less.

- Pete Kozma is on the trade block. This is non-news really. The word on the street is that Mo & Co. has been actively shopping the shortstop to anyone that will listen. So far, Mozeliak has been offered a fungo and a set of size 13 spikes from the Detroit Tigers, and a bucket of batting practice balls from the New York Yankees. In all seriousness though, I really have no idea what kind of value, if any, the Birds could get in return for Kozma. He's a former first round pick, albeit a really bad one, but he does have a good glove and makes enough contact to maybe earn a job as a back-up infielder at this point. You're probably looking at getting something like a middling 24-year-old-Double-A reliever in exchange for him. If he doesn't get moved, it's almost a certainty that he will be ticketed for Triple-A Memphis to start the season with Jhonny Peralta and Daniel Descalso in the mix.

- Kolten Wong will be your starting second baseman this season. Wong has been one of the Grapefruit league's best hitters this spring, leading his team with a .372 average and shown some flashes of power with 8 extra-base-hits in 43 spring at-bats. While we expect Kolten to be a good hitter, a chunk of these looks he's having are coming off of guys that will be doing oil changes next week. Wong is a career .300 hitter in the minors, and he's a potential 30-base-stealer in the big leagues. If all goes to plan, we could be seeing the very beginnings of a long and fruitful union between the Cardinals and their new second baseman.

- Jason Motte's "Strike Out Cancer" campaign is taking off, with his "K Cancer" T-shirts being worn by big names all over the league. What started as Motte printing a few shirts to sell to friends and family has now reached full-fledged movement status with the shirts now being printed specific to team colors. I love the fact that while Motte had a year off of work, he decided to do something and use that year to try to better the world. These are the kinds of players, and more than that, human beings that contribute to a club's success in a way that can't be dissected and turned in to numbers. Having guys like Motte around for these young pitchers to emulate is invaluable to a club like this and will show through in the new generation of players when it's their time for prime time.

- Matt Holliday needs a pat on the back from all of St. Louis. While he's not putting up monstrous numbers, he's given this team high-quality, consistent production for four-and-a-half seasons. He's been a leader on and off the field, mentoring young players and giving back to the St. Louis community. He perfectly fits the mold of the unflashy upper-star types that thrive in St. Louis the way that Lance Berkman, Larry Walker, and Scott Rolen did as well.

T-minus one week until opening day at this moment. All that's left to do is trim the fat off of the roster and start engraving Adam Wainwright's name on the Cy Young trophy. Breathe a sigh of relief. Baseball is almost back.

Stephen Nations is an aspiring sports and Cardinals columnist. He will be contributing his commentary to during the 2014 season. You can follow him on twitter at @Nayshface.


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