Take a team with one of the worst offenses in all of baseball and inject one of the top 10 hitters in the National League into the batting order ... Problem solved, right?
Not so fast.
While we Cardinals rooters are anxiously awaiting the return of one of the few St. Louis hitters who has shown any ability to hit in the clutch this young season, I question how much Holliday is going to improve the run scoring?
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Because the guy who has replaced him in the batting order and in left field has been the best Redbirds hitter through six games. Allen Craig leads St. Louis hitters not named Holliday with a .333 batting average, four runners batted in.
If you take Craig out of the lineup to bring Holliday back, is it really going to make anything better?
The Cardinals have the most productive left field in baseball after six games. The problem is the alleged shortstop brought in to be the leadoff man is batting a lame .182 with no extra base hits and only two runs scored. David Freese at third base has gotten off to a terrible start after a spring abbreviated by his comeback from ankle injuries with a .125 batting average, one run scored and no RBIs. Catcher Yadier Molina has three RBIs and a double to his credit. But he's batting 167. And that guy over at first base who is trying to make a case for a $300-million contract. He'd get it if it paid to hit ground balls right to the third baseman. Albert Pujols is batting .182 with one homer and three batted in.
The Cardinals need more production out of those spots if they're going to have success. And, while I'm pretty sure that Craig can't play short or catch -- and he's not going to rob Pujols of his job -- the Birds might be wise to start getting him into the third base mix.
I am a big fan of defense and Craig's not good with the glove on the infield. But Freese isn't going to make anyone forget Brooks Robinson and Daniel Descalso -- who has made some brilliant plays with the glove at the hot corner -- isn't going to hit for power like a regular third baseman should. So why not give Craig a crack at playing the position at which he says he is the most comfortable?
I'm not saying the Cardinals should give up on Freese. But if Craig gets a couple of days a week at third when Freese is resting his ankles and a couple of games in right when Lance Berkman is getting a breather the Birds can keep his bat in the action.
Maybe Holliday's prduction will make a difference. But only if it doesn't knock Craig's out of the lineup...