Who will stay and who will go is probably the question on a few players’ minds right now. The St. Louis Cardinals are due to activate Lance Berkman before tonight’s game against the Atlanta Braves, which means that they need to open up a spot on the 25 man roster. Any of the team’s bench players could find themselves on the block. Even pitchers may not be safe according to a few things I’ve read that claim the team is considering going with 11 pitchers for a little bit.
To lead off, I think going with 11 pitchers would be a really bad idea. The way Mike Matheny has utilized the pitching staff, we could probably exist that way for awhile. However, one or two bad starts by the rotation in a row, or a long extra innings game, and you’ll find yourself chasing your tail making roster moves for the next couple weeks (as once you demote a player he has to stay in the minors for at least 10 days).
The Cardinals are hitting the meat of their schedule with a 3 game set against the Braves (my preseason pick for World Series Champions) and then next week with the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. All three teams are quality opponents who will provide the Cardinals tough challenges. Going undermanned in the pitching staff could end up being a costly mistake.
That said, there are really three players who should consider themselves at risk going into this afternoon.
First off is Tyler Greene. Despite his big game a few nights ago, Greene is hitting .226/.317/434. Remove that big game and the batting average is under .200. His defense hasn’t been spectacular either and he is, at least in my opinion, about the third best second baseman on the roster. But his saving grace will likely be that he a former first-round pick and he is out of options. That means that to send him to Memphis, he will have to pass through waivers which give other teams the opportunity to claim him. I don’t think the team is ready to cut ties with him just yet, and I think John Mozeliak won’t want to remove a possible option before he has to. Remember, they hung on to Ryan Franklin, Trever Miller, etc for quite some time.
Second on the list is Shane Robinson. Robinson is hitting .318/.362/.432 and has proven himself to be a capable center fielder, despite a few mistakes. What likely keeps him on the major league roster is that he is a quality right handed complement to Jon Jay. That allows Mike Matheny to play some matchups and to rest Jay against tough left handers. I think that is enough to keep him in the majors. I’m not 100% certain, but he may also be out of options.
And finally, the guy I think makes the most sense to be sent to Memphis is Matt Carpenter. Carpenter, who put up some big games after Berkman went on the disabled list, has had some troubles as of late, hitting just .269/.330/.462 on the season. He’s made just 3 starts in the last 10 days as well. Carpenter’s issue is that with Berkman and Allen Craig on the roster, he is third on the depth chart at first base, right field, and left field. Craig will and should get the starts ahead of him because he has the bigger bat.
The Cardinals will need to announce it before the game tonight, so the watch is on to see who gets to make the trip south.
Edit: The Cardinals announced this afternoon that they will not be activating Lance Berkman tonight for precautionary reasons. So we shall wait a couple more days.