The St. Louis Cardinals have eliminated most of their roster mysteries with a week and a half still remaining in their spring training schedule.
On Monday the club shipped lefty hurler Marco Gonzales to Class AAA Memphis. Previously, the team send bubble shortstop Aledmys Diaz to the minors where he can play every day instead of riding the bench behind newly-acquired middle infielder Ruben Tejada.
Inking Tejada to a $1.5-million contract was a no-brainer for the Cardinals who have lost their starting shortstop, Jhonny Peralta, for as much as half of the season with a torn ligament in his thumb.
While a lot of people were excited to see Diaz, entering the third season of a four-year contract, get a chance to make good on his potential, he’s far from a sure thing at this point. He has only 58 plate appearances above the Class AA level -- although he hit an impressive .380 last year in his short time in Memphis.
Still, you can’t risk the season of a team expected to compete for a division title and/or a playoff spot by starting an unproven player in a key spot in the field.
By signing Tejada, at the very least, the Cardinals bought Diaz some time to finish the climb up the latter to the major leagues on his own schedule.
Tejada will get the roster spot otherwise reserved for Diaz. He brings a .255 career average and 580 games of experience to the team. He’s a steadying force in the short term. But Diaz was something of an enigma with the Mets, never reaching his top potential. Is it possible we haven’t seen his best yet and that he’ll thrive in St. Louis?
I was somewhat more surprised -- although not completely -- to see Gonzales shipped out.
The Cardinals seemed to have an opening for a swing man in the bullpen with Rule 5 draftee Matt Bowman struggling to a 10.50 ERA with 13 hits allowed in six spring innings this year.
But it seems the Redbirds are more intent on Gonzales pitching in a starting role when he makes it to the major leagues to stay. He’ll go to Memphis where he’ll stay stretched out as a member of the rotation, ready to slip into the St. Louis starting five if someone suffers an injury.
That leaves a starting five of: Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake and Jaime Garcia
A bullpen of: Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Seigrist, Seung Hwan Oh, Jonathan Broxton, Seth Maness, Jordan Walden and either Bowman, Sam Tuivailala, Miguel Socolovich or Mitch Harris
A starting eight of: Yadier Molina, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Tejada, Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty
And a bench of: Brandon Moss, Jedd Gyorko, Greg Garcia, Tommy Pham and Brayan Pena