(Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Cards Thoughts with Rick & Ricky: Have they Caught the Cubs?

What will Dexter Fowler be in 2019? Is there still a spot for Jose Martinez? You won't want to miss the 61st Annual St. Louis Baseball Writers' Dinner.

January 03, 2019 - 9:55 am

The Rick and Rick show might have to become a more common occurrence during our "Cardinals Countdown to Opening Day" shows, as it was a blast to have the former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ricky Horton and long-time Cardinals beat writer Rick Hummel in studio with our Chris Hrabe and Mike Claiborne, Wednesday. 

You can listen to the full show below, and read further to see some of the comments they made on what's next for the Cards in 2019:

Hummel's 2 Biggest Questions About Cardinals Offense

"One is, is it possible to go with 12 pitchers and keep Jose Martinez on your bench, is that possible in this day and age? Maybe it's not. And secondly, what is Dexter Fowler going to be? Because he controls a lot of answers. Maybe Fowler is the fourth outfielder, we don't know. Or maybe he's not an outfielder at all, or maybe he's the third outfielder, we don't know."

Related: Mozeliak on The Most Interesting Position for the Cardinals: RF

It's possible that St. Louis would consider taking even more advantage of the "Memphis Shuttle" as they did 2018, recalling pitchers on a weekly basis to help balance the workload in the bullpen. If they do want to keep the shuttle fueled up, that opens up an extra spot for a bat on the roster, which could go to Martinez. 

Have they caught the Chicago Cubs?:

"I think the Cardinals have taken a couple of steps back up that ladder," Horton says. "I think they fell down a couple steps, but I think they're back up to that point, would you say on paper that they are exactly as good as the Cubs are right now? I'm not sure you can say that, but I don't know that they're done yet." 

"But I like their pitching better than I like the Cubs," Claiborne says. 

Related: Andrew Miller Not Bent on Closing, Just Winning World Series in St. Louis

"I like their pitching a whole lot better," Horton says. "And certainly you have optimism galore going into the season. I think that's what we want, we want that chance to play in October again and I've been impressed with the two signings. Ander Miller's health of course is going to be the biggest question of all, but if he puts up numbers like he did two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, and five years ago, he's lights out when he's right."

Paul Goldschmidt's defense is 'hidden element':

"Not only does he make plays, but he also handles errant throws," Hummel says. "There hasn't been a good first baseman over there since Albert played over there and we're coming up on nine years now."

Related: Shildt Explains How Paul Goldschmidt Makes Everyone Better

We brought this group together also to talk about the 61st annual St. Louis Baseball Writers' Dinner coming up on January 20th. 

Both Horton and Hummel had a story about the funny lines that have come across during the on-stage conversations and round tables held over the years at that event.

"It's an easy thing to M.C.," Horton says. 

"Lee Smith, that one might go anywhere, what are you going to ask him first?" Hummel says. "Because you want to do that one, I'm sure."

"I really do want to do that one," Horton says. "Yeah, there are certain guys that I'm a little afraid of, I always says that about Bob Gibson, in fact I said that last year. I said, 'Bob, I want you to know that I'm still afraid of you.' 

"And he said, 'That's your problem.'"

Gibson was responsible for another great moment, as Hummel says he was talking to the Hall of Famer pitcher about his 1964 World Series teammates like Mike Shannon, Bob Uecker and Tim McCarver. 

"And (Gibson) turns to McCarver and says, 'Were you on that team?' And me might have really meant that," Hummel says.