(BaseballStL) -- September 1st and the expansion of rosters to 40 is not far away. In fact, it’s just two and a half weeks from now. For the most part there won’t be any surprises. You’ll see some familiar faces like Brock Peterson, Carlos Martinez, Keith Butler and Michael Blazek return. Heck, there might even be a (gasp!) Ryan Jackson sighting in St. Louis.
But the million dollar question revolves around the team’s top two position player prospects. Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras.
GM John Mozeliak told the Post-Dispatch last week that, if healthy, Taveras will be in St. Louis this September. The 21-year old Dominican Republic native has been out for a couple months with a high ankle sprain. Wong, however, is another question. The team has not yet decided what to do as far as the second baseman from Hawaii goes.
From what I’ve seen, however, the Cardinals need both of them. They can provide the offensive spark this team so desperately needs. You see, normally sparks come in the form of midseason pickups at the trade deadline. Matt Holliday in 2009. Jake Westbrook in 2010. Rafael Furcal, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel and Edwin Jackson in 2011. Edward Mujica in 2012.
All of the above mentioned names really provided a boost for the club down the stretch. Unfortunately, no such boost was added this time around.
Come September, Wong and Taveras can provide some semblance of a boost for the Cardinals. Both are just outstanding hitters. Both are young with an over abundance of energy and passion for the game. Both would rejuvenate what has become a borderline stale offense.
More than that, Oscar Taveras can push Jon Jay in center field. Kolten Wong can push David Freese in the infield. As we approach the homestretch of the regular season we’re getting to the time when - as Tony La Russa liked to say - whoever plays the best plays the most. You can’t tell me being presented with chief competition for playing time right in their own clubhouse wouldn’t push these guys just a little bit harder.
Bringing them to St. Louis absolutely couldn’t hurt. In fact, there’s no good reason not to. Adding them to the 40-man roster now wouldn’t change anything as far as their futures. Neither Taveras nor Wong will be doing the I-55 shuffle (going back and forth from St. Louis to Memphis). Once they’re here, they’re here. I can’t fathom in three years John Mozeliak wishing he had another option season for either one of those guys.
Starting their clock now won’t do anything. Both are going to be on the club from day one next April. Both will reach arbitration - and free agency - at the same time compared to if they didn’t get brought up in two and a half weeks.
Lastly, you know what? It’s not out of the question that Taveras or Wong actually make the playoff roster either. Think about it. The Cardinals never really replaced Ty Wigginton when he was released. They’ve had a third catcher, Rob Johnson, ever since to protect Yadier Molina.
Well, come playoff time, there won’t be a need for a third catcher. That bench spot opens up. And a second one might as well since teams don’t generally need 12 pitchers. They could choose to go with 11 pitchers and 14 position players if they want. See...it’s not out of the question for there to be room for both Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras to come off the bench this postseason. It’d completely change the complexion of this bench.
We’re still two and a half weeks away from rosters expanding. There’s no room for them now since A) they need a third catcher to protect Molina when he returns and B) Taveras isn’t even healthy yet.
But when he is - and rosters expand on September 1st - both Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong need to be in St. Louis.