Somewhere 1,100 miles from the St. Louis Cardinals home of Busch Stadium, bats are cracking and baseballs are flying in Jupiter, Fla.
With ice and snow falling all across the St. Louis area, it's the perfect time to take a look at how the Cardinals' 25-man roster is shaking up for the coming season.
With young players like Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty making pushes for the big league club, the competition is stiff in St. Louis. The club has impressive depth in the outfield though, which will make their push a tough one at this point.
There will be plenty of other battles for roster slots in the rotation and bullpen. The extended injuries of Jason Motte and Jaime Garcia only serve to make those battles more hotly contested than already expected.
Following is a list projecting the Cardinals full 25-man roster for 2014. It was put together assuming the Cardinals carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players.
1. Starters (5)
Projected starters: Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Tyler Lyons.
Despite having countless options, the Cardinals starting rotation will likely look a lot like it did at the end of 2013. Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller are virtual locks for the rotation. The question is who will replace Jaime Garcia—at least temporarily?
The Cardinals have plenty of options, with the likely candidates being Joe Kelly and Tyler Lyons. While Kelly is the more proven of the duo, expect the Cardinals to turn to Lyons to ensure at least one lefty in the rotation.
While it's not a necessity, it's a balance the Cardinals did without in 2013.
2. Relievers (7)
Projected relievers: Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Kevin Siegrist, Joe Kelly, Seth Maness, Randy Choate, Pat Neshek.
Much like the starting rotation, the Cardinals' bullpen will look a lot like it did in September. The same crew that made the season's final push, will for the most part hold shape in early 2014.
While the Cardinals did lose Edward Mujica to free agency, by the end of the season he had begun to fall from favor and made only 2 appearances during the 2013 postseason.
If Neshek can make the roster, he could play an interesting role for this bullpen. With so many 95+ mph fastball pitchers, Neshek's unorthodox pitching style could be valuable for keeping hitters off balance.
3. Catchers (2)
Projected catchers: Yadier Molina, Tony Cruz.
As usual, the Cardinals will start the season carrying only two catchers—for obvious reasons. Molina hasn't player less than 136 games since 2008 and only played less than 100 in his 2005 rookie season. While some teams do carry a third catcher, that's not typically the case in St. Louis. With that said, Cruz is a solid option both on offense and defense. At this point, his best hope of more playing time is to find it with another time.
4. Infielders (6)
Projected infielders: Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Mark Ellis, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Daniel Descalso.
The Cardinals stand to have one of the more solid defensive infields in the league in 2014. Peralta is slightly less talented defensively than Kozma, but the minimal loss is more than made up for with his bat.
Adams will continue to be a solid defender at first and Matt Carpenter will be a substantial improvement at third base as well. As a result of that move, Kolten Wong offers yet another area of defensive growth.
With this batch, they should look substantially better in 2014.
5. Outfielders (5)
Projected outfielders: Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos, Allen Craig, Jon Jay, Shane Robinson.
This list is one of the hardest predictions to make because of the sheer amount of talented outfielders within this organization.
Oscar Taveras isn't on the list. Some time in Triple-A Memphis could be of a huge benefit to him this year. He'll make an impact in 2014, just don't look for it to be in April.
The story for Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk will be very similar. Each still needs a chance to continue their development, but if a need appears they would be up to the challenge.
In the meantime, there's no need to rush any of these guys.
Corey Noles is a Cardinals Writer and Columnist for The Daily Statesman. He is also a regular contributor to KSDK.com and Bleacher Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @coreynoles.