Schumaker and Craig set for rehab

According to a Derrick Goold tweet yesterday, Skip Schumaker and Allen Craig could both start rehab assignments within the next week. Schumaker took some ABs in extended spring training in Jupiter and appears set to start rehabbing next week, according to Goold. Craig is headed to Florida on Sunday in the hopes of being ready for a rehab assignment late next week.

For Cardinals fans, this is good news. Craig is easily the most dangerous bat the Cardinals have off the bench this season and the sooner we can get him back, the better off the team will be. Especially with there being some question about Lance Berkman‘s calf injury. I’ve read that he described it similar as to previous issues he had, so it could be more trouble than we think it will be. Meanwhile Schumaker is the most reliable bat we have that can play second base, even if there is some question to his glove work.

With the potential that both players could be looking for a spot on the 25 man roster by the end of the month, it opens up some interesting questions and battles to stay on the 25 man roster.

The Cardinals’ bench presently consists of catcher Tony Cruz, infielder Tyler Greene, outfielders Erik Komatsu and Shane Robinson, and Matt Carpenter who can play all the corner spots. I think it’s safe to assume that Cruz is safely locked onto the roster as the backup catcher.

That leaves four guys fighting for two spots on the roster between Greene, Komatsu, Robinson, and Carpenter.

If it were based on performance today, it would have to be Robinson (4/8, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and Komatsu (2/5, 2 BB) making the roster over Greene (3/12, 1 RBI, 4 K) and Carpenter (2/10, 3 RBI, 4 K).

But other things come into play, and the fact that there’d be a severe lack of quality middle infield talent on our bench. You have to take into account options remaining and who players would be stealing playing time away from in Memphis and who gets offered back to their old team.

Greene is a former Cardinals’ first round pick and is out of options. Basically, the Cardinals will have to place him on waivers before they can send him back to Memphis. The question is whether they want to stack Greene and another first round pick, Pete Kozma, on top of each other in Memphis. I don’t think they do, and they won’t want to take away playing time from Ryan Jackson who is widely viewed as the best shortstop prospect in the system now.

Komatsu was new to the Cardinals’ this year. He was the 2010 Brewers Minor League Player of the Year and surprised many, myself included, in spring training as he tries to make the jump from Double-A to the Major Leagues.

Carpenter was put on the map by a strong spring training in 2011 and then again this year when he came back with enough gloves in his bag to land a role on the team. He can play all four corner positions and that versatility is what made the difference. He would also have to cut out a role in Memphis where another Cardinals’ first round pick Zack Cox is playing this season, though Cox is struggling in this early season.

Robinson was widely believed to have made the team to balance out the bench with a right handed hitter. He can play all three outfield positions which makes him a good addition to the team to help provide Jon Jay some time off against tough left handed pitching.

You can honestly make an argument to keep any of them and to send any of them to Memphis. That’s what makes decisions like these so difficult.

It’s unlikely to be Greene because the team doesn’t want to expose him to waivers yet and that he’ll have to split time with Pete Kozma (another potential first round bust) and might steal time away from Ryan Jackson. He stays for now.

It’s unlikely to be Komatsu because I think the team likes his skill set and his abilities. They don’t want to put him on waivers after his solid spring and decent start to the season and they don’t want to offer him back to Washington. He stays for now.

It’s likely to be Carpenter because his primary uses have been in the corner outfield and at first base. Schumaker can play the corner outfield spots and I bet anyone on the roster could play a passable first base in a pinch.

It’s likely to be Robinson because many believe he made the team simply as a right handed bat after Craig’s right handed

That leaves you with a bench of Cruz, Greene, Schumaker, Komatsu, and Craig. That’s still a pretty good assortment of players. three righties and two lefties. You have multiple players for every position if you need them.

Personally though, my bench would be Cruz, Descalso (with Schumaker starting at second), Carpenter, Craig, and Komatsu. It’s not as versatile, but I think the overall performance would be better off. Unfortunately for me, I don’t get to make those calls.