Should Cardinals Try to Spark Offense with a Callup?


Mar 1, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk (88) at bat against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals had another frustrating day offensively on Saturday, losing 6-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. To illustrate exactly how futile the Cardinals’ offense has been over the past week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold provided some humorous statistics via Twitter on Saturday:

All jokes aside, the Cardinals really do need to turn things around at the plate. In a division that already sees the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds consistently create offense and now has the Milwaukee Brewers making noise through the first month of the season, they can’t afford to fall behind offensively. Players like Allen Craig (hitting only .174 overall and .150 with runners in scoring position), Kolten Wong (4-for-28 since April 14), Mark Ellis (2-for-20 since his activation from the DL), Peter Bourjos (hitting .163), and Jhonny Peralta (hitting .175) have yet to get into any sort of groove, and their presence in the lineup is preventing the Cardinals from keeping anything going long enough to start a rally.

Though the Cardinals need to be patient with their everyday players and make sure that they get going, they can’t just let the offense keep suffering like this. For this reason, it might be time for them to bring up one of the many hot hitters at Triple-A Memphis and give them a shot to light a fire under their veteran teammates.

Based on a combination of success, experience, hype, and 40-man roster standing, outfielder Oscar Taveras would probably be the most logical option. Taveras now has 249 Triple-A at-bats under his belt, which at the time of his original assignment to Memphis prior to last year was probably around what most people expected him to receive before making his MLB debut. He’s hitting .303 with three homers to start the year, and while he’s been outperformed statistically by his fellow outfielders at Memphis, he has more Triple-A experience than Stephen Piscotty or Randal Grichuk and has the 40-man roster standing that Piscotty and Joey Butler lack. It would be difficult for the Cardinals to stick him into their lineup every single day at this point, but he could steal a couple starts a week from Craig and be added to the mix in center, assuming the Cards still think he can play there, which is up in the air considering that he’s only played two games there in Memphis this year.

If the Cardinals don’t feel that now is the right time to pull the trigger on Taveras, Grichuk or Piscotty would also be worthy candidates for a promotion. While they need to let the recently-acquired Bourjos work out his issues through at least semi-regular playing time, Grichuk (who was acquired in the same trade as Bourjos) would be the perfect player to push him. His skill set is somewhat similar to Bourjos’s, as he is a righthanded-hitting, athletic center fielder. He’s a better power hitter than Bourjos but needs work with his plate discipline. If the Cardinals want someone who can take a few starts away from Bourjos but also serve as a valuable bench piece, Grichuk would be the guy.

Piscotty, who has skyrocketed through the system after being a sandwich pick in 2012, is off to a great start in Memphis following a successful stint in big-league spring training, and he would also be a great candidate to try to elevate the offense. While he is limited to the corner outfield spots and would have to find his value coming off the bench and receiving spot starts in place of Allen Craig and Matt Holliday, his steady string of offensive success over his professional career indicates that he should do the same at the major-league level. With that said, Piscotty is very highly-regarded by the Cardinals, and they may not want to hurt his development by sticking him on the big-league bench if they don’t think there is enough regular playing time for him.

The Cardinals could always just hope that all the struggling hitters in their lineup suddenly turn it around and negate the need for change. With all the young weapons at their disposal, however, a better approach would be for the Cards to shake things up a little bit, and hope that even if they don’t succeed right away they motivate the struggling veterans to improve.