Cardinal prospect shuffling is about more than just playing time -

Cardinal prospect shuffling is about more than just playing time

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By Scott Bierman By Scott Bierman

(BaseballStL) — The calendar says it is just past Memorial Day but a look inside the Cardinal clubhouse says it is September.

No fewer than 35 Cardinals have appeared the line-up in the first third of the season as the Redbirds continue to promote prospects in an effort to find the rhythm that has eluded them thus far.

But could there be more going on than just an inventory check, a quick look at what is on the shelf?

The smart money says there is.

While many pitching moves have been dictated by the usual injuries, the revolving door of position players is more than just curious. 

The off-season acquisition of Peter Bourjos sent a clear message that Jon Jay, despite his .293 career average, was expendable. The recent promotions of Oscar Taveras and Randal Grichuk send an even clearer message that they both are. Bourjos’ failure to hit for average, rooted in his inability to hit ground balls, has put him in the doghouse despite his superior outfield play. 

With Matt Adams on the DL, getting everyone a little playing time can be managed in the short term. But clearly the Cards are doing more than just giving a couple of young prospects the thrill of playing in the majors. With Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Taveras, Grichuk, Bourjos and Jay all looking for playing time and Stephen Piscotty waiting in the minors, the embarrassment of riches cannot be juggled forever. 

To a lesser extent, the same situation exists with the pitching staff.

An early season injury to Joe Kelly and a short DL stay for Kevin Siegrist has allowed the Cards to look at Sam Freeman, (who has impressed thus far), Eric Fornataro, Keith Butler and Tyler Lyons. The return of Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte makes for a somewhat crowded roster, made more so when Kelly returns. Lyons is currently on the DL and would probably return to Triple A but Kelly is another matter. That gives the Cards six starters and another in waiting in Carlos Martinez. 

Look for the Redbirds to keep some insurance for Garcia’s questionable shoulder but if Shelby Miller doesn’t begin to address his lapses of concentration on the mound and high pitch count through five innings, he may end up in the bullpen or, a more remote possibility, on the block.

So what is really going on with the numerous promotions and shuffling line-ups? Evaluation and showcasing is the smart bet. A World Series team last year that cannot get out of its own way this year will not be allowed to underperform indefinitely. General Manager John Mozeliak has said as much when he discussed a team’s ability to improve as the trade deadline approaches. No team in baseball has as much talent as the Cardinals. Few teams have promoted as many players in the first two months. 

Something more than temporary duty is occurring here. Stay tuned.

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