The Cardinals activate Lance Lynn

t was initially billed as just a 15 day disabled list trip to rest his forearm, and so it has been as the Cardinals announced today that they’ve activated Lance Lynn from the DL and optioned Tyler Lyons back to Memphis. Lynn will take the mound tonight against the Miami Marlins.

“I’m just looking forward to competing again. I’ve been out for two weeks and you never want to not be able to complete. So I’m just looking forward to getting back out there,” Lynn told MLB.com about returning to the mound. Lynn missed two starts while on the disabled list with a right forearm strain.

Coming into the 2015 season, Lynn was viewed as the team’s #2 starter behind Adam Wainwright. With Wainwright on the DL, that made Lynn the de facto ace of the team and the guy being depended on to throw a bulk of the innings. Losing him for longer than just a couple weeks would have been very costly for the Cardinals who are thin now after dealing with so many injuries this season.

Tyler Lyons was good enough in his two starts as Lynn’s replacement. He went 2-0, going 5 innings in each start, allowing five earned runs between them. It was a much better run than Lyons put together while bridging the gap from Wainwright to Jaime Garcia earlier this year.

Lyons was also good at the plate. Going 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and three runs scored. His hitting performance in his last start against the Phillies is arguably the best offensive performance by a Cardinals’ pitcher this season.

Quick Hits: Can Michael Wacha win 20 games?

Michael Wacha has a 9-3 record through his first 14 starts this season. He also has a 2.85 ERA and 136 ERA+ that stacks him up as the 19th best starting pitcher in baseball this season (among starting pitchers with at least 10 games started). So the question is whether Wacha can continue this pace to become the third different Cardinals pitcher to win 20 games in the last 13 years?

Let’s take a quick glance at the history. In the last 10 years, there have been 23 times a pitcher has posted a season of 20 or more wins. Here is how many wins each had through 14 games.

11 wins (5) – Clayton Kershaw, 2014, R.A. Dickey, 2012; Brandon Webb, 2008; Josh Beckett, 2007; Dontrelle Willis, 2005

10 wins (2) – Max Scherzer, 2013; Cliff Lee, 2008

9 wins (7) – Adam Wainwright, 2014; Gio Gonzalez, 2012; David Price, 2012; Jered Weaver, 2012; Wainwright, 2010; Mike Mussina, 2008; Chris Carpenter, 2005

8 wins (3) – Roy Halladay, 2010; Halladay, 2008; Bartolo Colon, 2005

7 wins (4) – Justin Verlander, 2011; Ian Kennedy, 2011; CC Sabathia, 2010; Roy Oswalt, 2005

6 wins (2) – Johnny Cueto, 2014; Kershaw, 2011

On an unrelated note, it’s pretty impressive that Kershaw only had six wins over his first 14 starts of 2011, but won 15 of the next 19 to finish with 21 wins.

In a matter of Cardinals coincidences, each time a Cardinals’ pitcher has won 20 games in the last 13 seasons, they each had 9 wins through 14 starts.

The final numbers show that in 16 of the 23 seasons (70% where a pitcher won 20 games, they’d won 9 games or less through their first 14 starts of the season. He would seem to be positioned well for a run at it.

For Wacha though, this isn’t the whole story. Wacha will likely be on an innings limit overall for this season, so I would expect them to control how much and how often he pitches more closely down the stretch. While the Cardinals have said that they’re considering backing off the innings limit for Wacha (which I agree with), it will still make it difficult to log enough innings and enough starts to win 20 games. With his performance so far this year, that might be the biggest mountain for him to climb towards 20 games.

The fewest innings any pitcher in the history of baseball has thrown and still won 20 games is the 188 innings thrown by Jered Weaver in 2012. Weaver made 30 starts and won 20 of them. If Wacha continues to throw innings at the pace he has, he too will be at 188 innings through 30 starts, but in 30 starts he is only on pace to win 19 games. Two more starts and Wacha’s pushing the 200 innings plateau.

We know that Mike Matheny likes to give guys the chance at individual accomplishments if it’s possible, so it’s something to pay attention to as the season wears down and we know better whether Wacha might actually win 20 games.

If he does, it would be a heckuva start to a career by doing it in his first full season at the age of 23.

Cardinals promote Garcia and Scruggs

Just a day after talking about how any offensive reinforcements we can call up from Memphis probably won’t create that much of effect, John Mozeliak indicates he had to try something anyway and added first baseman Xavier Scruggs and infielder Greg Garcia to the Major League roster. Headed back to Memphis are catcher Ed Easley and relief pitcher Mitch Harris.

In theory, this will help solidify the Cardinals’ bench and give Mike Matheny more options while he constructs lineups on a nightly basis.

Since Matt Adams went on the disabled list, Pete Kozma has been the Cardinals’ only bench infielder. So basically he’s been acting as the backup at second base, shortstop, and third base. He’s also seen a little time at first base and in left field. While Kozma is retained by the team simply because he’s the only one that can play a defensively plus shortstop in the organization, were anything to happen to Jhonny Peralta, he is hitting just .098/.164/.098 so far this season.

While Greg Garcia may not be able to handle shortstop on an everyday basis for the Cardinals, he won’t be asked to do that and can fill in at third and second. He’s been having a stellar season in Memphis too, hitting .313/.405/.369 over 61 games so far, and .347 over the last month.

Garcia made a couple trips to St. Louis last season. Combined he went 2-for-14 and was hit by more pitches (3), including a walk off HBP against the Cubs, than he had hits (2).

Xavier Scruggs is the other guy and I discussed him at length yesterday. Scruggs is hitting .251/.363/.488 with 11 home runs over 60 games this season. He is also hitting .339 so far in June. Hopefully some of that heat will carry over to the Majors, but unless he hits the ground running, it’s going to be awfully difficult to say that he deserves to take playing time away from Reynolds. Reynolds, while he has lacked his overall thump, is about the only Cardinals’ regular doing anything positive with the bat in June.

The move itself is good to see if for no other reason than it will hopefully quell the frustration I read every night on Twitter. The success or failure of it will depend on Matheny actually giving these guys opportunities to play.

Easley is the position player going back to Memphis, but he only had three plate appearances in the three weeks or so he was with the big league club. For Scruggs and Garcia, that won’t do it. They will need to play more often. If only to keep the infield fresh.

Perspective

Following this afternoon’s 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins, Jaime Garcia now has four starts in June and has an ERA of 0.96 and a WHIP of 0.61. The Cardinals have also lost three of those four starts. Why? It it certainly wasn’t Garcia’s fault. Twice the Cardinals were shut out and today, the bullpen squandered an 8th inning go-ahead home run from Jason Heyward.

To listen to some, the sky is falling.

And to be honest, they’re kind of right.

But when you consider where the Cardinals are, that should be expected. Can you really expect the Cardinals to maintain their torrid winning pace while missing a third of their WAR production from last year to the DL for an extended amount of time.

Not really.

With Matt Holliday and Matt Adams missing from the lineup, the offense is much weaker and the bench is too. Mark Reynolds and Randal Grichuk have been pressed into everyday service and they’ve done well since being forced into starting roles. However, the bench is left without a legitimate threat. That impacts your ability to win games late. That impacts your ability to cycle out your new core hitters.

The Cardinals have yet to react to the loss of Holliday as far as the roster goes. John Mozeliak indicated that the team may make a move for offense earlier this week, but no move has been made.

There is no doubt the offense needs help. Mozeliak knows this. Since Holliday hit the DL, the offense has averaged exactly 3 runs per game. That won’t get the job in a majority of games, but is there an answer to help the offense in house?

Not really.

If you’re asking me, the best option in house is Tommy Pham. Unfortunately for Pham, he plays the outfield and the Cardinals already have a crowded and complicated outfield dynamic. It was crowded and complicated even before Holliday went on the DL, but that means that Pham won’t see much of a chance unless there is another injury in the outfield. Maybe he’s more trade bait for a bench bat than anything else at this point.

There is a heavy call to bring up a guy like Xavier Scruggs, but let’s be honest about what Scruggs is. He’s a 27 year old power hitter who has been stuck in Triple-A without a “fair shot.” This is a story that repeats every year or two. Nick Stavinoha in 2011, Brock Peterson in 2013, shall I go on?

What about Scruggs will bring about a different outcome?

Reynolds has been really good since Adams hit the DL too, so can Scruggs outperform Reynolds often enough to deserve playing time? And I hope you don’t expect him to play much at all in left field either for the same reasons Pham isn’t the right guy.

Consider last September. Matt Adams was quietly dealing with a day-to-day injury in September and the Cardinals didn’t have another true first baseman on the roster, so they called up Scruggs. Scruggs was on a Memphis team in the middle of the playoffs when he got the call, and that’s something that Mozeliak doesn’t like doing unless the guy is going to play. He was also coming off a better season than he’s in the middle of right now. Daniel Descalso was in the middle of a season where he hit .242 with no home runs.

Descalso started over him.

Even with those odds in his favor, he couldn’t get a look. Obviously there is something missing that the Cardinals believe indicates that he won’t produce on the Major League level.

Yes, he can probably provide more impact than Ed Easley can, but Easley has gotten a whopping three plate appearances in his time in St. Louis and two of those came in a blowout loss. It’s not like he’s seeing a ton of action.

With all that said, there really isn’t a solution in house for the Cardinals to go to right now. Their best option will be to try to pick someone up off the trade market and that won’t really materialize for at least another month.

It’s okay though. The season isn’t even halfway over. There is a lot more baseball to play and a decision to add a bench player (or not) in June won’t be the reason a season is lost. The Cardinals are the best team in baseball and will be for at least another 5 days. If 90 wins gets you into the playoffs, and historically that is an automatic, the Cardinals only need to go 47-49 to secure a playoff spot.

When October does roll around, the Cardinals should be in better position. Matt Holliday and Matt Adams are both expected back. There’s also some rumblings that Adam Wainwright expects to be able to pitch as soon as October, so maybe an outside shot of having him in some fashion too.

Like it or not, we’re all along for the ride at this point. It’s going to be bumpy and not a lot of fun, but the Cardinals need to stay the course for right now. They’ll get healthier as the season goes, because let’s be honest that there is nowhere to go in that department but up. As long as they can continue to grind out wins, we’ll still be in this thing when October rolls around.

But if Lance Lynn isn’t off the DL by June 25th, you can help me mash the panic button.

Those dirty Cardinals, right?

So by now everyone has heard the big news, right? Donald Trump is running for President! Oh, not that? Uh, Dale Earnhardt Jr got engaged? Not that either, eh? Oh, you mean that the Cardinals “hacked” the Astros. Okay, so let’s talk about that a bit based on what we know.

Many major media sources are advertising this as the Cardinals’ organization hacking into the Astros’ system. That’s what the FBI is investigating, but there hasn’t been anything reported to that effect. Right now we have the actions of a couple employees. Given that they were employees that shared a residence, odds are that they are lower level ones.

Let’s also get something clear from the very beginning. There was no “hacking” going on. Unless these employees somehow got a list of passwords used by other GMs in baseball, they didn’t hack your team’s computers. The word hacking creates images of guys trying to access a system by forcing their way in without a username and password. That isn’t what happened.

These employees had a list of passwords that Jeff Luhnow and other former Cardinals employees who had left the organization for Houston used. Guess what? Someone re-used a password.

It’s like failing to re-key your locks after breaking up with a girlfriend who has a key to your apartment. Her using it to enter your apartment and dig through your stuff is still illegal, but she’s hardly a master burglar.

Even the Ground Control system the Astros have was easily found. Until the leak of a lot of information from the Astros internal system last summer, Ground Control was easily accessible via groundcontrol.astros.com. That link is now down, but the web.archive.org system has a few copies of the login page that it archived at different times through 2013.

That’s the situation based on the information that has been released and available so far. That is all we know. Anything else is wild conjecture at this point and while the results of the FBI investigation could run the gamut from the organization being criminally culpable to just a couple employees getting fired, we really don’t know and really lack enough information to generate even an educated guess at what really went down right now.

But there are a few things in the information that lead me to believe that this was just a handful of employees doing this on their own and not a sanctioned corporate decision to strike at the Astros or steal information from them.

First, this was done from the comfort of their own home. The New York Times report says that the access traced back to a home shared by Cardinals’ employees. Don’t they know that stuff like this is what your neighbor’s unsecured wifi network is for? It seems like a very amateur mistake. Anyone who has watched virtually any crime drama on TV over the last decade should know that what you do on the Internet can be traced back to you and your computer.

Knowing the intentional way that John Mozeliak goes about his business, weighing his options and ensuring that all the angles are covered, this doesn’t seem like a mistake the organization would make. They’d have researched how to do it so it couldn’t be traced or even hire a few guys in Ukraine to do it on the cheap.

This is a team that is reluctant to gamble on international signings because they don’t have enough data to provide a good projection yet. They don’t do things without thinking them through.

Perhaps these guys thought that nobody would notice a valid login attempt. After all, they were stupid enough to think they could get away with this.

Second, whoever logged into Ground Control leaked data. If the Cardinals were doing something to gain an advantage, why would they have basically waved a flag and told the world that there was a leak in the Astros computer system. This is counter-intuitive to the claim that the Cardinals were doing it to receive a competitive advantage. If you’re getting a competitive advantage, you keep it as long as you can.

So why is the FBI investigating the Cardinals? Considering the guys that their investigation led them to work for one of 29 competitors to the Astros, they need to determine whether it was just the employees acting alone or whether they were directed by higher level employees to do what they did for whatever reason. If the Cardinals did direct these employees to do it, then I think we can all agree that this is a very big deal and there will be a hefty price to pay for whoever had anything to do with it and rightfully so.

But based on the information that’s been revealed so far, we have nothing to indicate that the Cardinals sanctioned this. In my own wild conjecture, I imagine something like this happening while a couple employees kicked back watching TV with a couple beers, maybe even watching an Astros game…

Employee #1: “Man, that Luhnow guy was an idiot.”
Employee #2: “Yeah he was. Hey, I’ve got this list of passwords he used, want to see if he’s dumb enough to not change them?”
Employee #1: “Dude, it worked! He is an idiot!”
Employee #2: “LMAO, he thinks Bud Norris is worth that? Is he going to pitch against us every night or something?”

Still very illegal, but it is not the major corporate espionage that this is being made out to be by the media who are covering it and it certainly isn’t cheating. At least, not based on the information that the general public so far privy to.

The day may come where this story is worth that kind of attention, but the sad part is that if the Cardinals are found to be totally innocent in this situation, the stain of the cheating implication by the major media won’t wash out for quite some time.

Partly because nobody will cover it.

Lynn’s trip to the DL is concering

With the Cardinals’ history in the diagnosis of arm issues and the current state of their roster, Lance Lynn being placed on the 15 day DL by the Cardinals is extremely concerning. The official diagnosis was a forearm strain after having experienced some discomfort in his last couple starts. He had left the team and returned to St. Louis to undergo an MRI to help diagnose the issue.

In Lynn’s place, the Cardinals have recalled Tyler Lyons who will likely make both starts that Lynn will miss. Lyons was part of the bridge from Adam Wainwright to Jaime Garcia, making three starts for the Cardinals and somehow escaping any decisions with a 5.54 ERA over 13 innings. Since being demoted back to Memphis though, Lyons has pitched well going 3-1 over 4 starts with a 2.36 ERA in 26.2 innings.

In 12 starts this season, Lynn is 4-4 with a 3.07 ERA. He’d been enjoying a string of success while leaning heavily on his fastball. Last season, Lynn was the rock of the rotation as Wainwright and John Lackey dealt with bouts of dead arm and he was expected to anchor the rotation following Wainwright’s injury this year.

But by all accounts, the Cardinals being willing to park Lynn on the sidelines for 15 days raises concern. He will be eligible to come off the DL on June 23rd so that will probably be two starts that he will miss for the Cardinals. I believe his next turn in the rotation is June 25th against the Miami Marlins.

The good news is that John Mozeliak says that they are resting him purely for precautionary reasons and that he could probably have pitched through it. Lynn himself has said that he’s had this issue before and pitched through it.

I hope they’re right. It does make sense to take care of Lynn while you can right now while you have some breathing room in the standings, but it is a concerning situation. Especially as he becomes the tenth player to spend time on the Major League DL for the Cardinals this season.

You have to wonder how many hits the Cardinals can take. I don’t think it’s many more.

With Holliday out, what does the lineup look like?

So Matt Holliday is out with a quad strain. The good news for Cardinals fans is that it is only being advertised as a grade 2 strain, which is short of a complete tear as Matt Adams suffered. This means that the Cardinals can evaluate Holliday in a couple weeks and create a timetable to get him back on the field later this season. Optimistically, I believe that means in six to eight weeks the Cardinals could see him back in action.

Perhaps the most difficult thing for Mike Matheny between now and then will be to fill out the lineup card every night without Matt Holliday as the anchor point. Since Holliday’s early exit on Monday night, the offense has been flat, obviously missing the big bat. So how might Matheny fill out the lineup card?

The first thing that sticks out to me when I look at the options for the lineup is that there may never be a better time to utilize a speed and defense based lineup. The Cardinals have the personnel to do it, so why not? Why not take the opportunity to run wild and see what happens? It’s not like our current method of scoring runs is being very successful.

Normally, I’d argue that Matt Carpenter is the guy to keep building the lineup around as I did in April when I talked about optimizing the Cardinals’ lineup, but Carpenter hasn’t been himself lately. Since he left the May 3rd game early due to dehydration, he has hit .231/.346/.380 with only 8 of his 25 hits going for extra bases. Entering play today, he has gone hitless in the last five games he’s started, the longest such slump of his career.

As long as he slumps, I think because the margin of error is so slim for this offense, that you need to consider dropping him in the lineup.

Right now Jhonny Peralta is far and away the Cardinals’ best hitter. Over the past 28 days his line is a robust .341/.417/.615 with 6 home runs and 19 RBI, all team highs. He is also the only Cardinals hitter hitting over .300, getting on base better than .400, and slugging better than .500. But his bat is far more suited for third in the lineup than second in the lineup.

Kolten Wong is the guy that I would identify to slide into the #2 spot in the lineup right now. He is the second best hitter on the team right now, hitting .293/.358/.455 over the last 28 days.

As I said earlier, I would make a shift towards a speed and defense lineup in an effort to maximize the results of my pitching staff. That means that Peter Bourjos gets to start regular in center field and would be leading off for me.

CF Bourjos
2B Wong
SS Peralta
LF Grichuk
3B Carpenter
1B Reynolds
C Molina
RF Heyward
Pitcher

I’m not the biggest fan of Grichuk in the cleanup spot, but I think he is our biggest power threat beyond Peralta.

After Grichuk I take a flip flop approach. A guy who can get on base and then a guy who can drive him in. Carpenter and Mark Reynolds make this first pairing while Yadier Molina and Jason Heyward make the second.

Ideally, Carpenter or Molina gets on and Reynolds or Heyward hits a home run.

It’s not perfect, but the Cardinals’ lineup has many holes right now with the absence of Holliday and Adams. Holes that are almost impossible to patch in any meaningful way. But the lineup still features six or seven hitters who should be above average hitters, which would still be among the league’s deepest lineups.

Now the Cardinals and their fans hope and pray that Holliday heals well over the next two weeks to give them some positive news.

Matt Holliday succumbs to injury bug

If your goal has been to stay healthy, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals has not helped your odds so far this season. When the day is done, Matt Holliday will probably become the eighth Cardinal player to hit the DL this season. Billy Beane once described baseball as a war of attrition. For the Cardinals, that has been accurate representation of their 2015 season.

Holliday left Monday night’s game after injuring himself chasing down a ball in the second inning against the Colorado Rockies. Initial reports were a quad injury, which is a punch in the gut for the team that just lost their first baseman for the season to a quad injury that required surgery. He will be further diagnosed today, but it will be difficult for the Cardinals to replace their team leader in OBP.

Immediately, if Holliday does require a trip to the disabled list, the Cardinals are expected to activate RHP Miguel Socolovich to take his place according to Derrick Goold.

But that’s just the first step.

If you want to look on the bright side, the injury to Holliday solves the playing time dilemma in the outfield by giving Randal Grichuk the opportunity play left field nearly everyday. The result will be one of the best defensive outfields in baseball as we return to the Jon Jay/Peter Bourjos time share in center field. The time is now for one of those two to step up. If Jay could hit like he has in the past and push his on base percentage up there, it would be a massive boost to this lineup right now.

For the Cardinals, there was really only one or two players that I felt the Cardinals couldn’t deal with losing. Unfortunately, Holliday was #1 on that list. The loss of Holliday is big. Really big. He is this team’s #3 hitter and is one of the best, most consistent hitters in baseball over the last several years. While they have plenty of pitching depth, there isn’t the same well regarded depth for position players and they certainly lack a player of Holliday’s caliber in the minors.

But there are still players who can be used to fill in the gaps behind. Mozeliak has specifically kept his depth over the last few years for situations like this.

There is Xavier Scruggs, the power hitting first baseman, who is in Memphis and already on the 40 man roster. He could play a Mark Reynolds type role off the bench for the Cardinals as he is hitting .230 with a .355 OBP and 8 home runs this season for Memphis. He got a brief look last season, but at 27 his clock is ticking.

Also on the 40 man roster, but further complicating the outfield situation, is Tommy Pham. Pham, coincidentally, just returned from his own quad injury that he sustained in spring training. He is also having a game this afternoon in Memphis as he went 2-for-5 with a walk, 3 runs scored, and 5 RBI in just his second game back in the lineup. He is also 27 with a ticking clock to make an impression on the organization.

There is also Stephen Piscotty, who is a top-100 prospect. Piscotty is probably the best positioned player to replace Holliday’s production as I feel they are similar types of players. Piscotty has hit .268 with 5 home runs since May 1st and has a slash line of .304/.364/.468 over his last 20 games. Piscotty would need a place on the 40 man roster, but if Holliday is out long term that won’t be difficult to find.

Just how exactly the Cardinals respond depends on how long Holliday will be out and the team should find that out today.

But I also feel that John Mozeliak will have to be looking at the current roster with a very critical eye over the next month as he decides what he wants to do at the trade deadline this year. We are almost to the point where I feel like this team is what it is and it won’t be worth the talent required to try to fill the holes on this team considering how many there are.

This is a team that is already missing it’s #1 starting pitcher, it’s eighth inning setup guy, it’s cleanup hitter, and now it’s #3 hitter. This team can’t take much more.

What do the Cardinals do about first base now?

During Tuesday night’s 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the St. Louis Cardinals seem to have lost first baseman Matt Adams to a quadriceps injury that may cost Adams the remainder of the 2015 season. A torn quadriceps was the diagnosis Wednesday morning as the Cardinals placed Adams on the 15 day DL and recalled catcher Ed Easley up from Memphis.

Immediately taking his place as the team’s regular first baseman will be Mark Reynolds. It was this role, insurance for Matt Adams, that Reynolds was signed to fill. Though he’s going to be used a little differently than expected.

Off to a slow start this season, Adams was looking like he was going to take yet another step back from the promise he displayed in 2013 when he hit .315 with 8 home runs in September while filling in for Allen Craig. While Adams had picked it up in recent days, it still wasn’t enough to make his splits over the last week wort going crazy over.

The loss of Adams will hurt a little bit, but for me more because Reynolds will no longer be a regular fixture off the bench. Instead he will be in the starting lineup where he will be used whenever his spot comes up instead of in certain situations.

So far in 2015, Reynolds has outperformed Adams offensively. Adams has a slash line of .243/.281/.375 with 4 home runs in 43 games. Reynolds has exceeded that with his line of .250/.314/.406 with 3 home runs in 39 games. Even when you break down that performance to platoon situations against LHP and RHP, Reynolds still comes out on top in both categories.

You’re also probably improving the lineup and the offense by more than just putting Reynolds into it. Mike Matheny had been insistent on batting Adams in the cleanup spot as he did last year with Craig. Reynolds won’t be hitting fourth (he batted 7th tonight), so you’re improving the lineup flow by removing Adams’ struggling bat from the middle of our best hitting players.

With the return of Jon Jay on the horizon (expected this weekend), many have suggested that it will create a playing time squeeze in the outfield and force one of our outfielders to move to first base. The debate has raged on about which outfielder would be best to move to first base, but that’s the second question to ask. The first question, and most important, is whether you have four outfielders who are clearly better than Mark Reynolds. Early returns say no.

By OPS+, one of my favorite metrics for comparing hitters, Jay and Jason Heyward have not been better than Reynolds. At best, Peter Bourjos is a virtual tie. That leaves just Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk as having outperformed him this season. And given the numbers, tells us that if we’re taking someone out of the lineup, it probably should be Heyward if we’re trying to force any particular outfielder into the lineup.

Many have targeted Matt Holliday as the perfect guy to transition to first base. About the only reason I can figure for that is because he’s older, slow, and has a stocky build. First base is where those guys go to finish their careers right?

Yes, Holliday was drafted as a third baseman, but he hasn’t played a single game on the infield in almost 16 years. Holliday has even expressed that he’s not that interested in a move, saying, “there’s a reason they moved me to the outfield.”

Other than Holliday, only one outfielder on our roster has ever played the infield. Lucky for us, it was at first base, right? Jon Jay appeared at first base in a game in 2009 for Memphis and then again in 2010.

I think that until we have four outfielders who can clearly give us more production than Reynolds is, there isn’t a cause for discussion about this idea and it really shouldn’t be looked at as an option.

If you are insistent about moving an outfielder to first base, I think it would make sense to move your most athletic guy. The thought being that his athleticism should help him make up for the lack of experience playing the position as well as make plays that the rest of the outfielders wouldn’t be able to on the infield. Seeing as the plays that happen at first base are generally more important than routine fly balls to left field, I’d look at putting the team in the best position there first. To me, that means Randal Grichuk.

But I don’t see the Cardinals shaking up the bag and forcing an outfielder into the lineup at first base. Particularly when none of them have ever put the ability to play multiple positions on their resume. Plus, there are a number of other players on the roster who are capable of filling those shoes if necessary.

Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and Jhonny Peralta are all guys who can take on that role. You could even dig into the minors for Xavier Scruggs (or with a little experience in the minors first, Stephen Piscotty).

I’d be really surprised if the Cardinals pursued a hitter outside the organization to take Adams’ place as long as Reynolds is healthy. It really isn’t because of the money, the Cardinals have it to spend if they want to. Rather it’s about the prospects you have to spend to bring someone in (note, same kind of prospects who have played a vital role in keeping this team competitive when we lose our high dollar players to injury) and the years you have to commit to them once they’re here.

Take the situation of a Ryan Howard. Howard has had an incredible last month. Since April 24th, Howard is hitting .291/.333/.624 with 10 home runs. Is that going to be Howard’s best month of the season? Given what he’s done the last few seasons, it’s probably a safe bet.

But Howard is signed through next season with a hefty buyout to get out of his option for 2017. What do you do with Adams and Howard on the roster next year and potentially the next two? It’s easy to dismiss that question now, but that is definitely something that a General Manager has to consider and answer to the owner for.

The irony of all if this discussion is that if Mark Reynolds was in another team’s uniform, he’d probably be near the top of most lists as a potential acquisition. The grass is always greener, I guess.

I expect the Cardinals to be on the lookout for someone to solidify the bench this summer. Someone who can play the role Reynolds played off the bench. With the expectation being that the Cardinals will need to add a starting pitcher this summer, that’s something you can probably get added to a deal without giving up much additional.

While we’re suggesting trades, why not Allen Craig?

Just kidding.

Sort of.

The tale of two days for Randal Grichuk

When yesterday’s game wrapped up Randal Grichuk’s box score line left many fans wondering whether there was such a thing as a platinum sombrero. If you don’t know why, a golden sombrero is when you strike out four times in the same game. After the 14 inning loss to the New York Mets, Grichuk’s line read 0-for-6 with 5 strikeouts.

It seems that Grichuk wasn’t ready for a return to the big leagues after his injury. He needed a rehab trip to the minors to get his timing back.

What a difference one night makes.

Grichuk once again got the nod last night against left handed starter Jon Niese. When he was placed second in the batting lineup there was some derision on Twitter, but Grichuk made Mike Matheny look like a genius.

Grichuk went off last night, going 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, a pair of doubles, and a triple.

For Grichuk, these last two nights have perfectly illustrated his potential and his problems. One night he can look like a transformative player and another night, he is prone to striking out and struggles.

With the strong performance last night, Grichuk saw his season batting average jump from .190 to .269, the blessing of only having 27 plate appearances on the season. Of his seven hits, six of them have been for extra bases.

His potential is obvious to anyone who watches him play a game like last night. The question is always whether he can adjust on the fly and start becoming a player worth playing against right handed pitching.

Grichuk is carrying a line of .308/.357/.615 against left handed pitchers while just a line of .231/.231/.615 against right handed pitchers. Obviously that’s tagged with a small sample size, but the trend continues when you peek at his splits from the minors.

Last season in Memphis, Grichuk hit .297/.337/.627 with 15 home runs against left handed pitching. Meanwhile he hit .235/.289/.396 with 13 home runs against right handed pitching.

It seems like Grichuk’s power plays both ways, but it’s his ability to hit for average that takes a big hit when facing right handed pitching. That’s the biggest hurdle that he will need to jump going forward if he wants to prove that the Cardinals don’t need to re-sign Jason Heyward and should instead turn that job over to him next season.

Of course, he could always take over center field too. I predicted in the offseason that Grichuk would earn the starting center fielder job by the end of the season. I still stand by that. And games like last night are why.