The addition of Felipe Lopez to the roster not only makes the Cardinals a better team -- it also makes the battle for the last spot on the bench a lot more interesting.
Assuming the Cardinals use a seven-man bullpen, they'll have five reserve position players. We know one of them will be the back-up catcher and another is likely to be Tyler Greene -- the best defensive shortstop candidate to back up Brendan Ryan, Greene has show a lot of improvement with the bat and offers flexibility in that he can play all around the infield. Julio Lugo, with $8.6 million of his $9 million contract being paid by the Red Sox, is likely to be kept around. That leaves only one spot left after Lopez, and the Cardinals have no one on the roster who is a true fourth outfielder.
Can the team afford to carry Allen Craig as a glorified pinch hitter when he can't play centerfield?
Will they keep Joe Mather, who missed almost all of last season with a wrist injury, because he offers more outfield versatility and better defense?
The best fourth outfielder on the squad -- and probably the best defensive outfielder -- is Skip Schumaker. Will the Cardinals shuffle a guy who has finally established himself as a second baseman back and forth to the outfield? That would seem to be unfair from a distraction perspective.
Schumaker is a good player and the Cardinals want him in the starting lineup. But are they a better team with Felipe Lopez starting at second and Schumaker coming off the bench?
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