The St. Louis Cardinals are simply going to have to make a deal or two soon. Not necessarily to add major league players to their roster. But at least to make room for guys at Class AAA Memphis who have earned a spot in the major leagues.
Why would the big league club prefer to field defensively-challenged first baseman Matt Adams, who has mysteriously misplaced his once fearsome power and turned into a guy who is batting .150 with runners in scoring position when top prospect Oscar Taveras is bucking for a long-awaited promotion?
Why would the Cardinals prefer to play Peter Bourjos in centerfield when he's racked up 29 strikeouts but only 17 hits? After a brief outburst two weeks ago that pushed his batting average to a semi-respectable level from it's previous .156 perch, Bourjos has settled back down in the last week to hit .231 with one extra base hit, one walk, six strikeouts and one runs scored in 15 plate appearances. Meanwhile Randal Grichuk, sent back down to Class AAA to give Bourjos a second chance, has collected 13 hits in 28 at-bats (.438) with the Redbirds. He's cracked five homers, scored 11 runs and driven in nine during that span. He's hitting .366 with a .422 on-base percentage for the season.
And then there's Stephen Piscotty who has cooled off a little bit but who is still hitting .298 with four homers in Class AAA.
The excuse that there's not enough playing time in the big leagues to find at bats for such promising young talent. What's the point of the Cardinals discovering and developing so many highly-touted prospects if they're going to be allowed to die on the vine?
It makes no sense to block players of the future with guys who aren't pulling their weight at the big league level. It's something of a gamble to plug in players without a big league track record. But the bar isn't exactly set very high by the incumbents.
Making room for Taveras is a no-brainer. Regardless about how coy the Cardinals are about bringing him up, they've rejected every overture by teams who would love to acquire him. The Birds' refusal to part with him is the reason GM John Mozeliak made the surprise move to sign Jhonny Peralta as a free agent at shortstop. Every potential trade partner, it seemed, wanted Taveras and that wasn't happening.
So he's going to be here in the next couple of weeks after his eligibility to reach arbitration early as a super two player expires. Hopefully he'll start in right field and Allen Craig, who has steadily been recovering his swing lately, will return to first base where he'll have less wear and tear on his legs.
What to do with Grichuk is less obvious. I don't think the Cardinals expected him to emerge so early when they traded for him in the deal that also brought Bourjos to St. Louis in exchange for 2011 World Series hero David Freese. But Grichuk seems to be a much more capable centerfielder than Taveras. So, instead of cramming Taveras into center and harming the defense, the Cardinals could put him in right where he'd be more comfortable and then Craig would be an improvement, defensively, over Adams at first base.
Grichuk might not be as good with the glove as Bourjos. But his bat more than makes up the difference.
I think the Cardinals might be well-served to trade Matt Adams now while he still has some value. While he hit 17 homers in limited playing time last year, he seemed to be over-exposed as a full-time player late in the season and in the playoffs when Craig was injured.
The Birds simply have to make room for the young talent. It might be a little bit of a gamble. But this team has been searching for a spark all season long. In 1985 the Cardinals were ignited by Vince Coleman. In 1987 it was Todd Worrell. In 2006 there was the emergency of Adam Wainwright... Let's give the kids a chance to see what they can do in 2014.