ST. LOUIS -- Trevor Rosenthal has remained consistent in his request to get a chance to be a big league starter. The message the Cardinals gave the rookie right-hander before he went home for the winter, though, requires Rosenthal to put those dreams on further hold.
Manager Mike Matheny said he plans to open the 2014 season with Rosenthal as the team's closer, a role that Rosenthal assumed the final week of September and carried throughout the Cardinals' postseason run.
Certainly in play is the fact that the Cardinals seemingly have a plethora of starting pitchers. With more candidates than rotation spots available, the Cards are able to take one player out of that mix by pegging Rosenthal for the 'pen. Too, Rosenthal's immediate success as a closer on baseball's biggest stage left the organization confident that it has found Jason Motte's successor.
With Motte's recovery from Tommy John surgery expected to roll over into the 2014 season, the closer's spot will be one that needs filled.
"Right now there is no reason to go anywhere differently than how we ended," Matheny said. "Trevor Rosenthal is a guy who is going in there getting the saves for us. That's how we're heading into this spring. … Right now when you look at our club and what we have and what we have need for that bullpen is all based around our closer, and we have a lot of confidence in how he has been able to handle that position and that we move forward with him being that guy."
Rosenthal was being groomed as a future closer while serving as Edward Mujica's setup man for most of the regular season. He posted a 2.63 ERA and recorded 29 holds in 74 appearances. Then, for the second straight year, he had a scoreless postseason. Rosenthal allowed four hits while striking out 18 and saving four games in his 10 playoff appearances.
"When you look at just the short sample size of what Rosey did," general manager John Mozeliak said, "it's hard to imagine somebody that is much better than that at that position right now all across the board."
Carlos Martinez emerged as Rosenthal's setup man in October, but the Cardinals are not locked into keeping Martinez there. They intend to have the 22-year-old right-hander report to Spring Training competing to earn a starting job. If he cannot crack the rotation, then the Cards would consider sliding Martinez back into the bullpen.
"He's one of those guys that we gave that message to -- be prepared to start, get yourself ready, get opportunities," Matheny said. "Carlos is a guy that we believe will benefit from preparing to start, and as spring gets started and we see where we are, we see what kind of adjustments we need to make, we see what kind of adversity hits us, we can make a move at that point."
Cards expect coaching staff to remain intact
ST. LOUIS -- Unless other organizations begin courting any of the Cardinals' coaches over the next few weeks, general manager John Mozeliak said he expects to retain manager Mike Matheny's full coaching staff for 2014. For those coaches whose contracts expired at the end of this season, the Cardinals will offer extensions.
"I think it's a great team that Mike has assembled," Mozeliak said. "I think those guys get along, they work well. Their dedication, their passion to their job is frankly just amazing to me. They're here early. They stay late. They really care about what they're doing. They're always looking to learn. And I think all of them contributed in a very positive way.
"Mike being a young manager, I think he relies on his staff more than some managers may. It's been a very impressive group to work with."
A complete rollover of coaches was not something Matheny had coming into his second managerial season. Mark McGwire's departure last fall initiated John Mabry's move to hitting coach and Bengie Molina's hire as an assistant. It became a staff, Matheny said, that exceeded his expectations in terms of preparation and work.
"For the most part, I couldn't have been any happier with how our staff worked together and the way they care," Matheny said. "I know it's something that Bengie Molina said at the end of our meeting here the other day. He just noted [that] it jumped off the page to him and it did to me as well all throughout the season, just how much our staff cares about the players and the guys individually, not as a group. You do fall into traps sometimes of having guys just come in and put their time in. I think that's not what we have here. I think that showed in the way the players trusted the coaches, and kind of the way the whole group came together."
With other teams still assembling Major League staffs -- and two clubs still searching for a manager -- the Cardinals could end up having one of their coaches plucked away later this month.
"I believe that part of my responsibility is to figure out what these guys have kind of in their sights, their goals, and to try and help them achieve those," Matheny said. "We have some very talented people around here. and I made it very clear that their roles are different. They've done quite a bit in preparing our club and preparing me and the way we adjust every day. They deserve to be recognized. They deserve an opportunity to achieve whatever high goals they've set for themselves."
Mozeliak to contact Carpenter about future plans
ST. LOUIS -- Officially, Chris Carpenter has not announced that he is closing the books on a 15-year career that was highlighted by two World Series championship runs and a Cy Young Award in 2005. Every expectation, though, is that Carpenter is set to retire this offseason.
However, that will not necessarily end his association with the organization.
General manager John Mozeliak said he had preliminary discussions with Carpenter in October about a potential future role with the Cardinals. Mozeliak, speaking at a Monday gathering with media, said he has not reached out to Carpenter since the season ended last Wednesday, but that he does intend to revisit those conversations within the next couple of weeks.
"We touched on some things before the season ended," Mozeliak said. "But obviously with everything going on in October, we never really ironed anything out."
Asked several times this season about his future plans, Carpenter said that he wanted to discuss his options with family before making his next commitment. Carpenter, 38, and his family make their home in St. Louis, so proximity would not be an issue if he were to take a job within the front office.
Mozeliak, Matheny defend playoff roster decisions
ST. LOUIS -- Having had five days to marinate over the incomplete end to an otherwise special season, both general manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny were asked on Monday if, given the chance for a do-over, they would have made any changes to their postseason roster composition.
The answer, in short, was no.
Despite taking some heat for carrying two pitchers (Edward Mujica, Shelby Miller ) who were sparsely used and a right-handed bat (Tony Cruz ) that could not be touched because of his insurance as an extra catcher, Mozeliak and Matheny again backed their roster decisions.
"Internally, we never revisited it," Mozeliak said. "When you look at sort of bench replacements, we didn't really have a lot of other options to go with. There could have been an argument to put Sam Freeman on to have that extra left-handed pitcher. But the decisions that were made were made for reasons."
Mujica was kept on the roster largely due to loyalty. The Cardinals were concerned what message would be sent if they cut a player key to their regular-season success because of a poor finish. As for Miller, once Matheny designated him as a long reliever in the bullpen, his role was set. Because the Cardinals never needed someone to cover multiple innings out of the 'pen, Miller was not used after the National League Division Series.
"How do you go about bringing a guy on that you don't even use? We did because we had him there ready almost every game," Matheny said of Miller. "We had him ready either in our minds and were close to going to him early. There were quite a few times that we were one hit away, one way or the other, of needing somebody to go long. He was right there. Same thing goes for Edward -- we get into a spot where we need somebody to soak up some more innings, he's there, and he was our best option. There's no other way to really think about it."
As for the makeup of the bench, the only way the Cardinals could have utilized Cruz off the bench would have been if they had carried Rob Johnson as a third catcher.
"In the Cruz case, I'm sure you could make an argument in one of those [World Series] games here that maybe that might have been an opportunity to pinch-hit," Mozeliak said. "But in the end, I don't know if it changes the outcome drastically or not. It's something that you try to eliminate all those thoughts when you put that roster together. You try to go through all those scenarios that could come up. Unfortunately, for two series it worked well and for one it didn't."
• Mozeliak confirmed that there are no immediate plans for any players to have injuries addressed with minor offseason surgeries. He also expressed no lingering concerns about Allen Craig, who is expected to have no further issues with his foot now that he can take additional rest.
• Mujica is a free agent and fellow reliever John Axford is expected to soon join him in that market, as the Cardinals do not plan to tender the arbitration-eligible Axford a contract. Mozeliak said he does not envision a scenario in which both of the right-handed relievers would return under lesser deals next season, though he did not rule out the possibility of re-signing one if the price and terms are right.
"When you look at the young arms we have and the depth for our rotation, there's certainly not going to be room for all seven or eight of them to start, so somebody is going to have to fill the bullpen as well," Mozeliak explained. "And therefore that might end up taking a spot from somebody like an Axford or a Mujica."
• While the Cardinals spoke openly during the season about closely monitoring Michael Wacha's workload, Mozeliak revealed the predetermined cap figure Monday. He said that the organization intended to have Wacha throw 160-170 innings in his first full professional season. With a somewhat unexpected postseason load, Wacha finished the year with 180 1/3 innings.
In the end, Wacha pitched more innings than Miller, whose slim October usage ended his season at 174 1/3.
• A year ago, the Cardinals sent Matt Carpenter home to Texas with a homework assignment to learn how to play second base. There were no such positional assignments made during exit interviews with players this year, Matheny confirmed. The Cardinals do not seem to have any intention of trying Kolten Wong as a shortstop option next year.
• The Cardinals have every expectation that left-hander Jaime Garcia will be finished with his rehab from left shoulder surgery well before reporting to Spring Training in February. Motte will continue his rehab work over the winter and recently said he hopes to be ready to return about one month into the regular season.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.