Cards shuffle pieces: A look at the 40-man roster moves -

Cards shuffle pieces: A look at the 40-man roster moves

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By Scott Bierman By Scott Bierman

(BaseballStL) -- Who’s on the St. Louis Cardinals’ 40-man roster and who is not may say more than what meets the eye about the Cardinals intentions going forward.

Protecting certain prospects who might otherwise be claimed by other teams via the Rule 5 draft is something every team does at this time of the year. But when a team has such a rich and fertile minor league system as the Redbirds, those moves attract a lot of attention, both internally and from teams looking to grab a prospect the Cards can’t protect.

It was not really a surprise that the Birds said farewell to Jermaine Curtis, a speedster who, like so many others, excelled at Triple A but just couldn’t make the jump to the bigs.

Leaving John Gast off the 40-man is a gamble the Cards apparently feel comfortable in taking. Gast looked credible if not compelling in his brief stint with the big league club, but missed the last five months after shoulder surgery. While left-handed pitchers are always worth a look, the Cards’ front office believes no big league team will be willing to take a chance on him until it is apparent he has fully recovered and can contribute regularly at the big league level. That’s a gamble, certainly, but the magic number is 40 and so if not Gast, then who?

Well, one “who” was Ryan Jackson, who appeared to be the best in-house option at shortstop, should the Cards be unable to trade or sign a credible replacement for Pete Kozma (also not a certainty).

But on further evaluation, Jackson really was never an option. With just two hits in 24 at-bats over two years with the big club and an adequate glove, he was not better than Kozma nor would he ever be. In fact, he had fallen off of most lists of top Cardinal prospects.

That move affirms that if the Cards pursue help at short, it is more than likely coming from somewhere outside the system.

More than likely but not certain because Greg Garcia, who the Cardinals added to the 40-man roster in moves announced Wednesday, played the last 200 games at shortstop for Springfield (AA) and Memphis (AAA). 

Garcia, drafted in the seventh round out of Hawaii, hit .271 at Memphis in 2013 and averaged over 20 doubles a year the last two seasons. His glove work was not impressive last year as he made 11 errors, but clearly Jackson was blocking him and he is the more compelling choice.

Also added to the 40-man roster was Mike O’Neill, a typical Cardinal draft pick that adds to the already impressive stable of young outfield prospects.

O’Neill is typical in that he was the 949th player selected (31st round) out of USC in 2010 and seems to have developed overnight into a serious contender for a spot in the near future.

As recently as 2012, he was still in Single A ball when the lights went on and he has never looked back. He batted over .340 in part of two seasons at Springfield and was voted the Cardinal prospect with the best strike zone discipline. He moved up the charts to the 28th best prospect overall in 2012 and was then promoted to Memphis where his development continued, hitting .295.

That dramatic improvement and the fact he bats left handed increases his value to the Cardinals and as a potential piece in a trade.

That no other organization in baseball has the depth and diversity of talent that the Cardinals have is a given. How to use that to acquire what they need without mortgaging the future is what keeps Cards GM John Mozeliak awake at night. 

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