The St. Louis Cardinals have to stop the madness and permanently shelve the idea of using lumbering first baseman Matt Adams in left field.
Word leaked out Thursday that the team will bring in former Gold Glove outfielder Willie McGee to tutor Adams. So despite the fact that Adams’ shoddy defense had a significant role in helping the Cardinals lose two of their first six games, we’re going to continue this folly?
What, pray tell, will Willie say that can turn Adams around? “Matt, could you try to be three times faster?” It seems like the Cardinals are trying to get McGee to convince water it’s not wet more than they’re trying to polish the rough edges off a brilliant diamond.
The real problem is, as long as they continue to fool around with these half-baked ideas such as using players in spots they’re not equipped to handle, the Redbirds aren’t going to get serious about getting legitimate players to round out their lineup and batting order.
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Manager Mike Matheny can say that he’s cramming Adams into left field because his bat “plays” as many times as he wants. But he can’t make St. Louis fans forget that Adams lost his original position at first base to Matt Carpenter because his bat DIDN’T play. Somehow the Birds couldn’t afford to keep Carpenter at third base because of his defense. But putting a guy in left field who has never played an inning in the outfield before a month ago is all right?
I commend Adams for busting his behind to get in better shape and then overcoming a bad spring to convince the Cardinals to try to find a place to let him play. But the team has done an awful job of roster construction, trying to fill too many round holes with square pegs.
Not only do we have Adams in left, but there is Jhonny Peralta — a career shortstop who played a handful of games in the outfield — making a mess with his glove at third base. Aledmys Diaz is a guy scouts said would make a decent third baseman or maybe a second sacker. But he was pushed into duty at shortstop because there wasn’t anyone else around who could do it better.
I don’t even know what Carpenter is anymore when it comes to fielding positions. He’s started at first, second and third and doesn’t seem particularly adept at any of them. In the outfield, Randal Grichuk is statistically the best center fielder on the team. So the club signs a weaker defensive player in order to improve the fielding by moving Grichuk to left? That doesn’t make much sense. But putting Grichuk on the bench so Adams can play left takes your best defensive outfielder out of the picture completely.
It’s no wonder the Redbirds are off to a terrible start. It’s hard for players to maximize their abilities at one position when they don’t know where they’ll be from day to day. Getting good at baseball, any coach will tell you, is about repetition. Practicing one thing over and over, then practicing another facet of the game over and over.
Apparently the new Cardinals Way is having a player take hundreds of grounders on the right side of the infield and then, when the game starts, telling him to go play the left side of the outfield instead.
Is it Matheny’s fault that the defense is so terrible because he keeps jerking the players around? Is it General Manager John Mozeliak’s fault for filling the roster with guys who don’t fit the team’s needs? Is it the fault of people who draft players because they fall so in love with one aspect of an athlete’s game that they forget about other important things?
We all heard for years that Brett Wallace was going to be a major-league stud. He would hit like Babe Ruth, people claimed. The only problem is he didn’t field worth a hoot and there was no place for him to play in the National League.
Kolten Wong was one of the best-graded prospects in Cardinals history. Did no one know he’s bullheaded and unteachable, rendering his skills virtually useless? Luke Voit is tearing the cover off the ball for Class AAA Memphis. Call him up! We could use a bat! Well... wait a minute. He’s a poor-fielding first baseman who can’t play any other position. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before. We’ve got plenty of those already.
The Cardinals need to get their scouts, their GM and their manager on the same page and find players who actually are capable of filling the team’s needs instead of trying to get by with Band-Aid solutions.