After a wait for him to advance beyond Triple-A that lasted longer than a year, the St. Louis Cardinals finally have called up outfielder Oscar Taveras to the major leagues. He will make his debut Saturday and wear number 18 as the Cardinals attempt to rebound from beatdowns the previous two nights by the San Francisco Giants. To make room for Taveras, first baseman Matt Adams will be placed on the disabled list.
Taveras will presumably take over the right field position as Allen Craig shifts to first base full-time to replace Adams. After center fielder Peter Bourjos went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Friday night, we may quickly be seeing a shift to the Cardinals’ outfield of the future, with Randal Grichuk in center and Taveras in right. If the Cardinals so choose, they could also play Taveras in center, but they showed a preference towards Grichuk in center while the two were teammates at Triple-A Memphis, so it would be logical to assume that it will stay the same now that they’re together at the major-league level.
Once Adams returns from the calf tightness that has been ailing him, it should be interesting to see who is the odd man out between he, Craig, and the current group of center fielders which includes Bourjos, Grichuk, and Jon Jay. Craig is hitting .255 to this point in the season, with a .283 average with runners in scoring position. Considering that he’s hit over .400 in those situations over the past two seasons, his regression to the medium been a bit of a shock to the Cardinals’ offense. Adams, meanwhile, has torched righthanded pitching, hitting .370 with 15 RBI, but he’s struggled mightily against lefthanders, hitting .150 with only two runs batted in for the season. Since Taveras, a lefthanded hitter, is batting .344 against lefties in Triple-A, it might be better to have Taveras in right with Craig at first when the Cardinals face a lefthanded starter. Against righties, Taveras could rotate in and spell starting outfielders Craig, Bourjos, and Matt Holliday, perhaps giving the Cardinals a dominant four-man outfield rotation like the Los Angeles Dodgers possess with Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier. Then again, Adams could always return to the backup first baseman and pinch hitter role that he admirably filled in 2013. With Craig’s career trends indicating that he’ll probably get hurt at some point this year, Adams would figure to get a fair amount of starting time anyway.