We all knew that health would be the biggest concern of the Cardinals with a number of key players either returning from injury, pushing their way into their mid thirties or both.
But the key was to limit the damage and keep the majority of them game ready at once. The biggest problem a week ago was how to get enough at bats for all the hot players. Ah, but how things can change in a week.
Since Lance Berkman's return from a calf injury that had limited him to a week's worth of games in the season's first month and a half, top 10 National Leaguer in batting average Jon Jay went back on the shelf with a sore shoulder; Senior Circuit home run leader Carlos Beltran has been chained to the bench by soreness in one of his surgically rebuilt knees; the team's hottest hitter, Allen Craig, pulled a hamstring and reliever Kyle McClellan has apparently blown out his pitching elbow.
It's going to be a tough stretch of games.
Craig ought to be ok when his mandated 15 days on the disabled list are up. He's young and he's generally pretty healthy. His off-season knee repair went well and he probably pulled that hammy because he's still not quite in mid-season form after getting a late start. But I'm worried about Beltran because his knee problem was initially thought to be relatively minor back when he was with the Mets. And it basically turned into a year and a half of being unable to play regularly. If he is still having problems with his knee this far down the line following surgery, one has to wonder if he is ever going to be right.
I'm also concerned that Jon Jay's season is in jeopardy after a second stint of inactivity thanks to shoulder problems. He originally hurt the shoulder more than a month ago when he crashed into the Busch Stadium outfield wall trying to catch a long fly. The fact that the shoulder has regressed instead of getting better makes me wonder if surgery is in the picture or at least a long period of rest.
Jay has long been underestimated in the Cardinals system. But he's proven to be a catalyst. And the Cardinals really don't have anyone capable of playing his position in centerfield anywhere near as well as he has. Skip Schumaker doesn't cover nearly as much ground as Jay and he doesn't have nearly as much pop in his bat.
So the question becomes do the Redbirds make a trade to try to bolster themselves, do they call up prospects to try to fill the holes or do they ride the storm out with what they have?
It doesn't make sense to trade for more redundancy if they really think their currently players will be healthy sooner than later. And it doesn't make much since to auction off Matt Adams or Shelby Miller for a temporary fix. The problem with calling up Class AAA slugging first baseman Adams is that you's start his free agent clock and hinder his development at the minor league level by adding him to the roster and plugging him into the big league roster. And where would he play? He's a first baseman. If the Cardinals move lance Berkman and his balky calf back to the outfield to make room, they're pushing the possibility of losing another player.
They might just have to take their lumps in this situation and hope for the best.