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April 28, 2014

St. Louis Cardinals show faith in the new guys with prime numbers

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Looking at the Cards from a fan's perspective

It's an unwritten rule of baseball that you can tell what management thinks of players by the numbers it assigns them when they're promoted to the big leagues.

While it's not exactly a ticket to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the St. Louis Cardinals must think pretty highly of the club's two newest players, Randal Grichuk and Greg Garcia.

Both players got numbers in the tens Monday for their major league debuts. And that's about as good as one can because all the lower numbers are either retired, virtually retired in the case of Albert Pujols' number 5, or spoken for by current players.

Garcia got 12, most significantly worn recently by 2011 World Series star Lance Berkman. Grichuk's number might be more of a big deal. He got the number 15 worn by Gold Glover Jim Edmonds who just happened to play the same position as the Cardinals rookie flychaser.

The number was so closely tied to Edmonds that Matt Holliday was assigned it when he was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in trade and he asked to be switched to number 7 because he didn't want to be directly associated with trying to replace a St. Louis legend.

Another way it is a big deal to assign Grichuk and Garcia prime jersey numbers is because top prospect Oscar Taveras is going to be called up sooner or later. And there arent' a lot of prestigious numbers on a team that has 10 retired, Pujols, Mark McGwire, Willie McGee and Darrell Kyle's numbers on hold.

Usually a club won't give away a demoted player's number unless he's released or at least taken off the 40-man roster. So, unless the club has already decided on a number for Taveras that it has set aside, it would seem that they limited his options by giving the new guys prime digits. 

For the record, Taveras is currently wearing number 15 in Class AAA. I'd be shocked if the Cardinals put the pressure on his back of giving him number 5 like former GM gave Pujols when he made his big league debut. If I had to bet, I'd think it is more likely he's given McGwire's 25 now that Big Mac has moved on to LA -- and seems to have no chance to make the Hall of Fame anytime soon.

It's a number he wore in the lower minors.

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