JUPITER, FL (Baseball STL) —When one takes a look at the projected 25-man roster for the St. Louis Cardinals and attempts to decipher which spots are up for grabs in a competition there is one that jumps out to me as ludicrous. Those within camp - albeit several are other media types - say Randal Grichuk is no lock to be on the team out of spring training.
Um, excuse me?
Now, I certainly understand the whole public spin of telling a young player he needs to compete so he doesn’t get complacent. I understand someone in Grichuk’s spot not getting the luxury of knowing he’s on the team. That comes in time.
But behind closed doors? The REAL conversations that are being had within the coaching staff and front office? I sincerely hope that’s not being said.
The Cardinals need power, right? This is a team that hit the second fewest home runs in all of Major League Baseball a season ago. Why in the world would you then send down a player who has hit 70 home runs in the last three seasons (A-ball in 2012, AA in 2013, AAA and the majors in 2014 including the postseason)?
I’ll be the first to admit Grichuk isn’t perfect. The man really has struggled against right-handed pitching in his limited time in the big leagues. But for a squad that projects to have five left-handed hitters - two of whom struggle against left-handed pitching in Matt Adams and Jason Heyward - having someone who just mashes lefties is a luxury the Cards can’t afford to squander.
Those in the know suggest Ty Kelly is Grichuk’s chief competition for a bench spot. This is a guy who popped 15 home runs last year for Seattle’s AAA affiliate in Tacoma. He can play anywhere on the infield with the exception of shortstop and even has experience in the corner outfield.
Kelly’s power is intriguing. But is one 15 home runs season in the minors enough to warrant keeping him over a guy who’s drilled 70 (!!!) over the last three seasons combined?
I’m just not following this. Grichuk went yard off Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the NLDS in Los Angeles and was the starting right fielder throughout their playoff run. Again, he struggled at times. He ultimately hit just .171 in 35 postseason at-bats.
But this is a man who’s accomplished all he needs to accomplish in the minor leagues. He needs to improve against right-handed pitching, for sure, but he can do that at the big league level. Wasting his incredible power potential (especially as a left-handed deterrent) so you can use a guy who has simply moderate power makes little sense to me.
Randal Grichuk needs to have a good camp. He needs to show improvement in pitch recognition against righties. He needs to improve his game. But, barring something unexpected happening, he needs to be on the Cardinals out of spring training here in 2015.