Okay I’m not going to scare you like fellow friend and writer Mark Hostert did with the “Life After Molina and Holliday” article last year. If there’s one thing I know more than anything it’s to not mess with Cardinals fans emotions. Everyone thinks they’re an expert when it comes to knowing what is best for the team and thinks they can play manager.
It’s fun looking at the long term outlook of the team past the current everyday roster and this Spring we got a glimpse of that at shortstop. Jhonny Peralta injured his thumb earlier in Spring Training, opening up a void at the shortstop position. While my first instinct was “Oh no, here we go again”, It could have been much worse. As much as like Peralta’s bat in the lineup, at least it isn’t Adam Wainwright going down with another injury.
Peralta’s injury gave us chance to look at the potential future of the Cardinals shortstop in Aledmys Diaz. Diaz was recently optioned to AAA Memphis, but in his time with the big league club he showed he has potential. He hit .265 with nine hits and five RBI in limited action for the Redbirds. These stats aren’t stellar, which is why he now has the opportunity to fine tune his talent in the minors with the chance of a call up later in the season.
Down the line Diaz I believe will become the everyday shortstop. Peralta’s deal runs through 2017 and after that he likely will end his career or sign a short term deal elsewhere. He was a productive shortstop in 2015 hitting 17 home runs and 71 RBI, but as he gets older having a fine tuned Diaz as a backup will only benefit St. Louis. He just needs a little more time to develop his skill set in the minors.
In response to the injury and to fill the temporary void, the Cardinals over the weekend added some depth at the position with the addition of former Mets infielder Rubén Tejada. New York released Tejada early last week after they determined they had enough depth at the position with Wilmer Flores and the acquisition of Asdrubal Cabrera.
Tejada, who is coming back from a broken leg suffered in the 2015 playoffs, isn’t likely to be a long term option for the Cardinals, but purely a rental. I don’t think anyone thought he was brought in to be anything more than that, but none the less he said he was happy with his decision to join St. Louis.
The 26-year-old saw regular playing time in 2014-2015 for the Mets appearing in over 110 games each season. His experience more than anything are what the Cardinals will benefit from in Peralta’s absence. I like this addition because instead of rushing Diaz into a starting role, Mike Matheny can insert Tejada who’s shown he can be an everyday player.
This also allows Matheny to use Jedd Gyorko in a more expanded role throughout the first half of the season. Gyorko almost certainly will see playing time at multiple infield positions. The jury is still out as to who starts at first base. Matt Adams is coming back from a quadricep injury that sidelined him for most of last season. Brandon Moss failed to produce much after St. Louis traded one of its top prospects to acquire him last July. And Matt Holliday isn’t getting any younger, so the Cardinals have worked him out at first base in order to get his bat in the lineup more often.
That’s four different guys that could potentially see regular playing time at first base. If I’m John Mozeliak and Matheny I think you have to give Moss at bats with the chance to produce otherwise it looks like you wasted a prospect in picking him up. Holliday is a bat I want in the lineup everyday, one way or another. Aside from an off day here and there he has the biggest pop on a team that lacks power and deserves maximum at bats.
To me Adams could very well be a trade piece come trade deadline. He has the power as a big left handed bat and could very well serve in a DH role for American League teams. I think part of the reason Mozeliak didn’t make many moves in the off season was to wait and see what this team can do before trading anyone away.
Bringing in Gyorko was a steal for St. Louis. His flexibility in the infield allows him to get plenty of playing time without being a full time starter. If someone slips up and starts having a cold streak don’t be surprised if Gyorko starts seeing more playing time. His power numbers have dipped the past few years to less than 20 home runs, but he gets on base and drives in runners.
So the Cardinals have options at infield and were not yet sure what the everyday roster will look like. I’m guessing the first base position will be a platoon of players along with the outfield and Tejada will see most of the time at shortstop with Gyorko backing him up.
What are your thoughts on this years roster and pitching rotation? Who do you think will be the break out player for St. Louis in 2016? Comment, Tweet at me, or send me an e-mail with your thoughts!
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