Currently, the St. Louis Cardinals have a problem to address. It isn’t a ‘bad’ problem necessarily; in fact, most teams would be thrilled to have it. Nonetheless, it is a problem. Down at Triple-A Memphis, the organization has an entire starting outfield playing extremely well and deserving of a promotion.
Playing center field is none other than the golden child, Oscar Taveras. The Cardinals’ top prospect has calmed any doubts of his ability and drive following a spring training in which he spent most of the time sidelined with a nagging ankle injury. So far, Taveras is obliterating the Pacific Coast League, hitting .325 with 23 extra-base hits (seven of which are home runs) and 40 RBI. I think it is safe to say that he is ready for the big leagues.
Randal Grichuk is also hitting extremely well, with 24 extra-base hits (9 homers) and 31 RBI in 40 games. In addition, Grichuk is a good fielder, something he showcased in his short stint with the Cardinals earlier this season. That said, he also didn’t hit the cover off the ball, but he didn’t have much time to adjust. Stephen Piscotty is hitting well with a .292/.330/.426 slash line, but isn’t dominating as the others are (4 homers, 14 doubles). In my opinion, Taveras is ready, Grichuk can start if needed, and Piscotty needs just a bit more time.
Either way, they may all likely be in the major leagues later this summer.
With three young studs knocking on the door, it may be time to make some room for them (or at least Oscar) while also improving other aspects of the team.
I like Allen Craig, as I’m sure everyone else does. Craig is also subpar defensively in right due to average arm strength and a lack of range. Also, Allen is less than two months away from turning 30. While he has turned it on as of late and should return to his career norms, his production WILL NOT match that of last year’s. His .454 average with runners in scoring position is an aberration that won’t happen again, and his BABIP was a rather high .368. The perception is that he is a big power hitter, but he is not. Yes, he is somewhat of a power threat, but nothing above average for a right fielder or first baseman.
His current 5-year, $31 million dollar deal with a $13 million dollar option for 2018 isn’t bad, but the same level of production (or better) could likely be had for far cheaper with Oscar Taveras.
Lastly, this team does have needs. The bullpen has been surprisingly shaky; just look at last night’s game. The rotation is good, but Shelby Miller has been off and on. Lance Lynn is good, not great. Jaime Garcia has pitched well since returning, though he could come up lame at any moment. At the age of 27 he now has undergone both Tommy John and a major shoulder surgery, both of which can more than likely be attributed to his mechanics (which remain the same). Trading Craig could kill two birds with one stone by opening up a spot for Taveras and helping improve the team with the addition of a pitcher or further stock the farm system with good prospects.
Look, I’m not clamoring for the team to trade Craig, but if trading him can improve the team, Mozeliak should not hesitate to pull the trigger.