Thursday, March 21, 2013

Will Cromer and Theriot Be Replaced In My Nightmares?

Since the last time we talked, Rafael Furcal's been scheduled for Tommy John surgery, which means he's done for the year. I'd complain that the team went along with the "rest and rehab" approach instead of pushing for surgery last fall, but for two things. One, I wouldn't want to go under the knife if I could possibly avoid it, and I imagine Furcal didn't, either. Two, even if it happened last fall, I doubt he would have recovered soon enough to do the Cardinals. Any good. I believe position players can recover faster than pitchers, if only because  they don't have to throw as much, but I imagine he still wouldn't have been ready before August.

The Cardinals released Ronny Cedeno, who apparently didn't impress during Spring Training. I guess it's good they aren't just handing guys roster spots (Wigginton excluded), but it does rather leave the middle infield a bit of a mess. Kozma appears to be starting SS now, which hardly inspires confidence. The team is apparently not high on Ryan Jackson, to the point he's going to be Greg Garcia's backup in AAA. Garcia having just been promoted to that level, I can't see him getting on the roster, barring an injury to Kozma. Figure five bench spots, one to Tony Cruz (Molina's caddy), one to Shane Robinson (back-up CF), one to Descalso, one to Wigginton, one to Matt Adams, apparently. Besides Descalso, there's nobody there who can play middle infield, and even Descalso shouldn't be used at SS.

Frankly, Wigginton seems like the problem here. If you have Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams on the roster, why do you need Ty? The idea is he'll play either the corner infield or corner outfield positions when the starters need a day off. Well, Adams is a first baseman (and only that), and Carpenter can play all 4 spots, and better than Wigginton. Descalso can play 3rd (though he doesn't hit well enough), and if you need a corner outfielder, and neither Carpenter or Allen Craig can do it for some reason, you could always shift Jon Jay there and start Robinson (or Adron Chambers) in center. The one place the Cards don't have a backup is SS, and Wigginton doesn't fill that need. Yet he's signed for two years. Admittedly, at a price (5 million total, less than what they owe Furcal this year) the team shouldn't balk at eating the money if they think they must.

He hasn't had an OPS+ over 100 since 2008, he's not even average defensively at any of the positions he plays. His one possible benefit is that he's righthanded, while Carpenter and Adams are lefties, but I don't think that overrules all the other redundancies.

I had seen the possibility raised of acquiring either Troy Tulowitzki or Elvis Andrus. I was initially in favor of Tulowitzki. He's a lot more expensive, and he's older, but if he hits his ceiling, he's a lot better than Andrus. He easily be the best SS the Cards had since Ozzie. Then I realized how much more expensive he is. He's signed through at least 2020, and will make 20 million a year from 2015-2019. Andrus has 2 years left on his contract, about 11 million total. He's supposed to be quite good defensively, which is always my primary concern with shortstops (see Theriot, Ryan).

Either guy, unfortunately, would be pricey in prospects. Andrus probably less so, since he's under contract for fewer years, and isn't nearly as good. And, the Rangers have Jurickson Profar, who everyone assumes will take Andrus' job as soon as the team deems him ready. The Rockies, though, aren't likely to contend any time soon, and with Tulowitzki's injury history, they might want to try and move him while he still has value. Then again, their payroll is low enough, he's not a serious burden for them.

The thing is, I have this vision of the Cardinals for 2014. Molina behind the plate, Adams at first, Kolten Wong at second, Freese at 3rd, Holliday- Oscar Taveras- Allen Craig in the outfield, with Descalso, Matt Carpenter, and Jon Jay making up 60% of the bench. I don't think that's doable if they traded for Tulo or Elvis, because at least some of those guys (almost certainly Taveras) would have to go in the process. It seems the Cardinals came to the same decision, so they're gonna roll the dice with the Kozmanaut.