Arizona Cardinals Take
Tactical Angle On Final Cuts
While Only Four Cornerbacks Made The Final Roster, Defensive Backfield Help Is Coming And Spots Needed In Linebacking Corps; Also, Hudson A Feel Good Story For Dbacks, And How Fans Might Get Suns Love Before Bledsoe
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
Sept. 3, 2014 — The Cardinals made final cuts, so we know essentially what the roster will look like come opening day. The cuts didn’t come without some surprises.
The biggest surprise comes from the defensive backfield, where the Cardinals are keeping only four cornerbacks. It seemed like converted receiver Teddy Williams and cornerback Bryan McCann were fighting for the last corner spot, but Arizona ended up cutting them both.
That is very surprising, considering the team’s second starter at the position is Antonio Cromartie, a talented veteran who struggled with a nagging hip injury last season.
However, the Cardinals have reportedly signed the recently-waived (by Tampa Bay) cornerback Anthony Gaitor to the practice squad. This move should give the team flexibility if one of the defensive backs on the roster gets hurt. The Cardinals also have Tyrann Mathieu listed as the second free safety on the depth chart, which means he could find time at safety and as the team’s third corner in nickel packages.
Mathieu is coming off of two torn knee ligaments and will probably miss the first game of the season. When he is 100 percent healthy, Mathieu will most likely take over starting free safety duties and play less at cornerback.
Besides, the team are still unsettled at linebacker. Eleven linebackers are part of the final 53, mostly squeezed from the defensive backfield.
In the midst of a lost season, the Diamondbacks have a few things to pay attention to this season. First, the team welcomed back pitcher Daniel Hudson and outfielder Cody Ross from the disabled list. Hudson is likely to work in relief while Ross could platoon in the outfield.
The team is likely showcasing both players to see if it can grab any value for them in the offseason. The Diamondbacks are in clear rebuilding mode, so they’re looking to procure young players, even the less-heralded ones they’d get for Ross or Hudson.
The Diamondbacks have Ross under contract through 2015 in the last year of a three-year, $26-million deal. The team also has a club option for 2016 that it likely won’t pick up. However, if Ross can play well through the last month of the season, Arizona might be able to swap him for a low-level minor leaguer in the off-season.
It’s not much, but every rebuilding team needs to stock up on assets. You never know what you’re going to get. Remember, Mike Piazza was a 62nd round draft pick.
Hudson is a different story. The team signed him to a minor league deal late last year after he underwent two reconstructive arm surgeries. So, you can bet he’s affordable.
If he pitches well this year, the Diamondbacks could choose to keep him or try to trade him for low-level players, too. As this year’s team knows, you can never have too many quality arms in the bullpen, so if Hudson pitches decently, expect to see him back in the desert next year.
Arizona has also taken the chance to use this lost season to check out some of its young players that might be ready for regular Major League action. Outfielders Ender Inciarte and David Peralta are two that stand out.
Inciarte has batted a respectable .270 in 315 at-bats and has stolen 14 bases. So, he could probably steal around 30 bases in a full season. Peralta has show power, clubbing seven home runs and collecting a .460 slugging percentage in just under 300 at-bats. He could conceivably hit near .300 with 15 home runs in a full season.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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