It’s a pretty accepted theory within St. Louis baseball circles that top prospect Oscar Taveras is not just close to the Major Leagues. He’s practically busting the door off all its hinges and knocking it down.
A season batting average of .325 and a 1.129 OPS in the last 10 games probably doesn’t hurt his case either.
Taveras is the best hitting prospect to come through the Cardinals minor league system since a guy named Jose Alberto Pujols marched through it way back in 1999 and 2000. That’s a fact. The general manager said it.
Now, it’s also pretty accepted within St. Louis baseball circles that there is no room for Taveras to get enough big league at-bats to warrant a call up. Having All-Stars Matt Holliday and Allen Craig in the corners with Matt Adams at 1st base surely creates a big of an issue. Those guys are outstanding in their own right and deserve to play.
The conclusion everyone is jumping to is that someone must go. It’s a plausible thought. One that assuredly will happen before Opening Day 2015. Heck it might even happen before then.
But to sit here and say GM John Mozeliak HAS to make a move within the next couple months is ludicrous. There is a – not so easy – way to make all of these faces work for a limited period of time. That means enough at-bats for Taveras, Craig and Adams without having to move someone.
This won’t work forever. It could just be something you do for, oh, a few months to get you through 2014. But it creates significant negotiating leverage for Mozeliak.
Here it is. The Cardinals say in order to warrant a promotion for Taveras he has to start at least four days a week. That means three days a week he would come off the bench while Allen Craig and Matt Adams start at their respective positions.
The other four days a week when Oscar is starting would have to see a rotation of off days among the others. That means a day off a week for Craig (not the worst thing in the world), a couple days off a week for Adams (made easier because he doesn’t hit lefties as well as Taveras) and here’s the kicker – a day off a week for Matt Holliday.
What, you say? Rest Holliday once a week? He’s the #3 hitter for crying out loud! Well, yes he is. But he’s also 34 years old and it’s not a ridiculous thought to give him a little bit of rest. Plus, his .763 OPS isn’t exactly Pujols-esque either. It’s not like the Cards would be benching Babe Ruth. They’d be resting a very good player to get at-bats for the next great hitter.
That system wouldn’t work forever. Ultimately, Taveras needs to play more than four days a week. Allen Craig shouldn’t be sitting at all. Matt Adams deserves everyday playing time as well. Someone will have to go – eventually.
But if John Mozeliak doesn’t like what offers he gets from teams looking to relieve him of his overcrowded outfield, he has the option of waiting until the offseason to do it. He has another option to get him through 2014.
It’s not ideal. It won’t work forever. But it’ll buy him some time to figure things out long term.