Losing Craig gives Taveras the chance to play everyday

Losing Craig gives Taveras the chance to play everyday

Credit: Getty Images

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 05: Allen Craig #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits into a sacrifice fly in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game at PNC Park April 5, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)


by Elizabeth Eisele / BaseballStL | @elizabetheisele


Posted on July 31, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 31 at 1:54 PM

Do you agree with trading Kelly and Craig for John Lackey?

(BaseballStL) – This season has been pretty horrendous for the now former Cardinals’ outfielder Allen Craig, but he’s getting a fresh chance in Boston as the Redbirds traded him Thursday ahead of MLB’s deadline. And the trade puts the responsibility of right field solely in the hands of the young Oscar Taveras.

Craig’s line this season, .237/.291/.346, is abysmal compared to where he’s been accustomed to over the last two seasons. He drove in a combined 189 runs over the 2012 and 2013 seasons earning him a large contract, 5 years at $31 million, in which Craig is still owed $27.5 million through 2017.

Memories of Allen Craig: 2013 World Series obstruction call

But this season, he’s looked lost at the plate with a strike out rate of `19.4 percent which is the highest of his career as a starter. According to Brooks Baseball, Craig is swinging at 34 percent of breaking pitches and 42 percent of off-speed pitches outside of the strike zone. He’s then whiffing at 32 percent of all breaking pitches he swings at and 25 percent of off-speed pitches.

This season has been abnormal for Craig, but his presence in the everyday line-up has hindered the Cardinals offense. And this offense has enough trouble scoring runs. They rank second to last in the NL with only 387 runs scored, an average of 3.65 runs per game.

Memories of Craig: Home run in Game 7 of 2011 World Series

And Craig has contributed in a big way to that problem, creating just 36 runs for the team in 97 games – more than halfway through the season. In 2013 and 2012, Craig was responsible for creating 87 and 84 runs respectively.

An interesting sabermetric stat to ponder, if Craig played all nine positions for the Cardinals, their winning percentage would only be .384 this season compared to his 2013 percentage of .674. To put that in perspective, the Chicago Cubs have a winning percentage of .415 at 14.5 games back of the Brewers.

GM John Mozeliak, in absence of a big bat on the trade market to bolster the offense, opted to solidify the starting rotation. Giving up Craig puts the pressure on the rookie Taveras, who now has the opportunity to play every day instead of platooning.

Memories of Craig: Final out of 2011 World Series

Taveras hasn’t been dazzling since hitting a homer in his first MLB game, but maybe with the stability of consistently playing in the line-up will jump start the highly touted prospect.

The Cardinals have an option to resign John Lackey for only $500,000 for 2015, but if Craig can right the ship in Boston this trade could haunt the Redbirds.