Diaz increases Cardinals' options, but impact is still up in the air

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by JJ Bailey / BaseballStL | @TheJJBailey

KMOV.com

Posted on March 10, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 11 at 8:11 PM

BaseballStL is in Jupiter for spring training. Follow us on twitter @BaseballStL_app and follow our writers @TheJJBailey, @MauriceDrummond and @BFeldman for videos, articles and analysis.

(BaseballStL) —  Despite an absolute snoozer of a game, Monday brought a flurry of excitement from spring training. 

Aledmys Diaz, sporting a four-year contract worth $8 million (as reported by the Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold) and clad for the first time in Cardinal red, met with media and participated in pre game activities. 

Despite a lack of any sort of scouting consensus on the young infielder, fans of the organization have been quick to write the next few moves for John Mozeliak. 

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While it may be a fun way to pass the time, hypothesizing about Diaz’s role with and impact on the club is an exercise in fantasy. 

For starters, he’s has been out of baseball for 18 months. No matter how talented a player is- or how resilient a 23-year-old’s muscles may be- getting back into game shape is going to take awhile. 

Add to that a brand new echelon of competition combined with stress of assimilating into a new culture and any expectation of Diaz jumping to the majors in one season seems unreasonable. 

There’s also no reason to set his playing shortstop in stone. The Cardinals plan to start him there, but there’s plenty of belief that he could be moved to second or perhaps take on the role of utility man. 

All of these are fine outcomes for Mozeliak’s foray into the Cuban market, and all would likely take a while. 

With an $8 million price tag, there’s no pressure to expedite Diaz’s rise. With two shortstops likely slated for the AAA roster in Pete Kozma and Greg Garcia, it figures that the 23-year-old Cuban is at least going to start his journey in AA Springfield. 

(This is where I am compelled to mention that despite the brutal numbers in 2013, Kozma is still just 25 and was the 18th pick in the 2007 draft. The possibility still exists - however remote - that Kozma pulls his bat along enough to contribute at the MLB level.) 

Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. No one knows what 2014 will bring for any of the organization’s young talent- least of all their newest member. He doesn's even have his work visa sorted out yet. 

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