Too many guys and not enough positions.
That’s the problem facing the St. Louis Cardinals and manager Mike Matheny with the impending return of Jhonny Peralta.
Peralta, who hasn’t seen any action with a big club this season, will join the team in the coming weeks after his rehab assignment is complete.
Although, his return is delayed until at least next weekend after the shortstop accidentally sliced his thumb open on his birthday. The injury however is not to the thumb Peralta is rehabbing, but it did require stitches.
When he does eventually make his return to the majors he will compete with Aledmys Diaz for playing time. The 25-year-old shortstop has made the most of his opportunity with the Cardinals hitting .319 on the season with seven home runs and 25 RBI.
I’m under the assumption Peralta will get his spot back, with Diaz coming in to give Peralta rest. Though, Peralta also could move around and play third base with Matt Carpenter shifting over to first base as another option to get his bat into the lineup.
However, this means Matt Adams bat isn’t in the lineup. Adams, who started off the season slow has found his groove and has boosted his average to .320 with 25 RBI. He also has a nice five game hitting streak going in which he’s tallied three extra base hits.
In addition to Adams, Brandon Moss is expected to see his playing time cut with Peralta’s return, but like Adams his offense numbers are also up. Moss is hitting well with 27 hits and nine home runs.
It’s a good problem to have for Matheny and his staff. Too many players and not enough positions is better than the alternative.
There’s also the opportunity to play Adams at first, Carpenter at second, Diaz at short, and Peralta at third to get the best bats in the lineup, but Carpenter hasn’t played second base since last year.
With Kolten Wong struggling though, it’s always another option. Wong is hitting a weak .230 with a mediocre five hits in his last 26 AB’s. His defense hasn’t been quality either.
St. Louis leads the majors in defensive errors, Wong has contributed five of them, and between Diaz and Wong, the pair has 16.
So an upgrade on defense and a dependable bat is what the return of Peralta brings, but how Matheny utilizes the players is extremely important. Making sure to get the hot bats into the lineup is more important than having the best defensive minded team.
St. Louis’ offense has been up and down all year long. Some games they score 14 runs, while some games they only get one. As long as the offense is clicking, I’m okay with letting up on the defensive side of things.
Let’s also not forget about Greg Garcia, who Matheny elected to keep on the team over Rubén Tejada.
Garcia said after Friday nights game he’s trying to prove to the Cardinals he’s worthy of playing time.
“You put a lot of pressure on yourself as a young player. You want to prove to the guy next to you that you belong up here and to yourself, too. I was able to have success playing in that kind of pressure, but it’s nice to just kind of play this game just like it was a backyard game,” Garcia said.
Garcia is hitting .545 and doing everything necessary to make a case for everyday playing time. It’s too bad he will only serve as a reserve player like Jedd Gyorko.
What do you think should happen with the Cardinals infield and who do you think is most deserved of playing time?