JUPITER, Fla. (BaseballSTL) -- Putting a 25-man big league roster together is sort of like a puzzle. You’ve got big pieces, small pieces, straight edged pieces and jagged edged pieces. When all is said and done, though, it’s got to all fit together perfectly. Or, well, as perfectly as you can reasonably make it.
And certain decisions influence others.
Welcome to the world Matt Adams lives in right now.
He represents a pretty large piece to the puzzle. The guy hits. He’s hit everywhere he’s gone since getting drafted 699th overall back in 2009. An All Star in each of his full seasons? Texas League Player of the Year in 2011? Adams is a major league hitter, no question about that.
But here, again, where does his piece of the puzzle fit in with the rest of the pieces? That is not so easy to figure out.
If the Cards go with the usual 12 pitchers and 13 position players allotment, that leaves room for a five man bench. Catcher Tony Cruz, utility player Matt Carpenter and veteran Ty Wigginton seem to be locks. Manager Mike Matheny has said keeping a backup center fielder is necessary given the fact Carlos Beltran won’t be playing there at all this year; so Shane Robinson’s hold on a job appears to be strong.
That leaves one open spot.
Can you go with Matt Adams there, someone Matheny said has the ability to “change” the game with one swing? Or do you go with more depth at shortstop? Remember, with Pete Kozma the starter now only Daniel Descalso would be able to shift over if a need came up. That’s awfully risky. Ronny Cedeno, although struggling mightily at the plate, could be necessary for protection at shortstop.
One other route to go for Adams to make the team out of spring training is to shift away from the usual paradigm of 12 pitchers and 13 position players and go with 11 and 14, respectively. That would create a spot on the bench for both Adams and Cedeno (or a backup shortstop) but would shorten the bullpen.
With Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica, Randy Choate and Mark Rzepczynski locks for the roster there would only be room for one more righty with this strategy. That would put a lot of pressure on the rotation to go deep into games consistently; this to avoid heavy usage from a shortened relief corps.
Would GM John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny be willing to bet a rotation featuring Jaime Garcia (recovering from injury) and a young prospect such as Joe Kelly will be able to sustain the necessary amount of innings?
It’s a risk.
But, then again, so would keeping Adams at the expense of a backup shortstop.
Or do you protect yourself at shortstop and in the bullpen, thus making Matt Adams the odd man out?
There’s no easy solution. That’s why it’s a big storyline here in spring training. If it was a simple call, no one would be talking about it and I sure wouldn’t be writing about it.