Chronicling the Cardinals.

A Look at Three Dudes for March 13.

1. ALEC BURLESON: If we’ve learned anything about the Cardinals over the last 10 seasons, it’s their tendency to have an overcrowded outfield. Since the start of the 2014 season, the only one National League team (Reds) has used more outfielders with 500-plus plate appearances (total) than St. Louis. The Cardinals have distributed 500+ plate appearances to 13 different outfielders over the past 10 years. And 15 of their outfielders have played in at least 100 games during their time as Cardinals. (Where have you gone, Peter Bourjos?) It’s happening again this season. If we include the banged-up Tommy Edman and Lars Nootbaar, the Cardinals have seven outfielders in the mix for regular-season playing time: Jordan Walker, Dylan Carlson, Michael Siani, Victor Scott II, Burleson, Edman and Nootbaar. And that number would be eight if we include the super-utility presence of Brendan Donovan.

Earlier this spring there didn’t appear to be a space available for Burleson, a left-handed hitter who was a potential overstock item after the Cardinals signed left-swinging bats Matt Carpenter and Brandon Crawford for the bench. But Burly is making noise, carrying a hot bat to make a protest. He entered Wednesday with a .407 average and 1.039 OPS in 11 games. He’s slimmer, showing increased mobility, and looks better defensively. That .407 average was fifth overall this spring among MLB hitters with at least 30 at-bats. When Edman and Nootbaar return, the Cardinals will restore their tradition of having too many outfielders for the available roster openings. And if Burleson and Scott are ticketed for Triple A Memphis, this could be yet another example of the Cardinals having a 26-man roster that doesn’t include some of their best hitters. Same as it ever was? We’ll see.

One note worth scrutinizing: in Wednesday’s lineup against the Twins manager Oli Marmol started Scott in center field, and Carlson was stationed in left. This can be interpreted – perhaps prematurely – that the manager likes the idea of having Scott in center during Edman’s convalescence. At some point – perhaps later in the regular season – the Cardinals may have to acknowledge that Scott is their most capable center fielder. But that may be a challenge, considering their abundance of praise for Edman’s defense in 316 and ⅔ career innings in CF.

2. ZACK THOMPSON: The lefty had a sharp outing against the Twins on Wednesday, crafting four shutout innings. He didn’t allow a hit, walked one, and five of his 12 outs were notched with strikeouts. Thompson has been yo-yoed between starting and relieving during his two seasons of limited pitching for the Cardinals. During that time he worked 50 and ⅔ innings as a reliever, and 50 and ⅓ innings as a starter. He’s performed more impressively in relief (2.31 ERA) but I don’t pay much attention to that. You can’t expect a guy to be fully prepared as a starter when you keep parking him in the bullpen. Late in the ‘23 season Thompson demonstrated his capability with a 3.46 fielding independent ERA over a six-start stretch. Most impressive was his 25.6% strikeout rate over that time. For 2024, Thompson added strength, cultivated a better off-speed pitch, and focused on maintaining his velocity. For an organization that’s been so desperate for starting pitching, it’s remarkable that Thompson has been used for only 10 starts for the big club over two seasons. You’d think that a first-round draft choice – one with talent – would have received a more extensive opportunity with a team that frequently runs short of starting pitching.

3. THOMAS SAGGESE: His bat is for real. It’s just a matter of time before he gets a chance to show that against major-league pitchers in regular-season baseball. The signings of Carpenter and Crawford basically eliminated any chance of Saggese making the 26-man roster for the start of the regular season. The Cardinals would have to get rocked by multiple infield injuries to have room for Saggese. But all he does is hit. He did it for the Texas Rangers in the lower-level minors, and again at Double A. When the Cardinals acquired Saggese in the Jordan Montgomery trade last Aug. 1, he pounded baseballs for Double A Springfield and was moved up to Triple A Memphis. The only question is his defensive ceiling; depending on need, can he capably play second base, third base and shortstop? The reviews from Jupiter have been fairly positive.

Imagine a roster that has a super-utility guy who bats left (Brendan Donovan) and a super-utility tool who bats right (Saggese.) The import from Texas looms as an impactful addition when the Cardinals choose to call for him. Saggese will strengthen his bid for a major-league promotion by tearing it up at Memphis during his time there in 2024. Saggese went 0 for 3 against the Twins on Wednesday. He came into the game batting .379 with a .419 OBP, .552 slug and nine RBI in 29 at-bats. Getting Saggese and starting pitcher Tekoah Roby in the Montgomery deal could turn into something special for the Cardinals.

BONUS NOTE: In case you were wondering about the 13 outfielders who have made at least career 500 plate appearances for the Cardinals since the start of 2014, here’s the roll call:

  • Harrison Bader, 1,715 PA
  • Tyler O’Neill, 1,636
  • Dexter Fowler, 1,500
  • Dylan Carlson, 1,481
  • Randal Grichuk, 1,386
  • Matt Holiday, 1,370
  • Stephen Piscotty, 1,306
  • Tommy Pham, 1,284
  • Marcell Ozuna, 1,177
  • Lars Nootbaar, 974
  • Jon Jay, 713
  • Jason Heyward, 610
  • Peter Bourjos, 519

Sadly, only one outfielder on that list of 13 outfielders was selected for the All-Star Game: Holiday in 2015. That’s it. Yeah, the Cardinals are still trying to get it right in their outfield. We wish them luck.

The next outfielder to reach 500 career plate appearances as a Cardinal will be Jordan Walker; he had 465 PA as a rookie last season.

Thanks for reading …


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link. We almost always record a new pod on Monday morning each week.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.