The prospect game has always intrigued me. I’ll be honest, about a decade ago I was that guy who overvalued every next man up to a fault. Whether it was Brett Wallace (remember him) to Colby Rasmus or even Shelby Miller, there was honestly no trade that made sense when it meant dealing the St. Louis future.
It is amazing what a couple of titles and four straight trips to the final four can do to your perception. Now that the order for the upcoming draft has been finalized, the Cardinals can begin their planning for at least four or possibly five picks in the first 105 selections. More on that later since as important as this draft is, however, two months of the season may impact quite a bit of strategy first.
Much like with every team in the game, pitching is at the center of everything entering the 2015 campaign. There are plenty of question marks in St. Louis from 60’6″ as I’m sure we will hear almost daily as soon as games start if not sooner. What today’s offering is concerning, though, has very little to do with anyone off the mound wearing the Birds on the Bat.
Bernie Miklasz pointed out one additional benefit in the Saga of Shields by potentially taking another suitor out of the race for Hamels. No one knows what the GM of Philadelphia is up to but the bottom line is any move will require at least one of the best outfield prospects in the organization.
But here is where things get interesting. Depending on who you ask or what qualifications mean more to you, the Cardinals offer a pair of intriguing options in any deal.
No one will benefit more by having a strong run in Jupiter than Stephen Piscotty. He was talked about earlier this Winter as even getting looks at first base, but the first contestant in the Craig 2.0 game has positioned himself to come out on top in a number of ways. Piscotty recently racked up the 32nd spot for 2015 in the Baseball Prospectus top 101 list and by the way, he still has all the option years to go with that.
My guess is a couple of strong months in Memphis may actually move the potential replacement for one of the H-Bombs into the untouchable category, but we have all heard that one before too many times. As it was pointed out earlier as well, Piscotty will be headlining the NRI list and is almost guaranteed to be one of the final cuts before heading to Chicago.
Anytime there is a winner, it is only natural to assume there had to be a loser as well. That may have been the case back in November for Randal Grichuk, who fell on the depth chart due to no fault of his own. He was the starter down the stretch and contributed more than a rookie making his first October appearance. I have since changed my tune a bit on where he rates, especially when you factor in two important elements to the equation.
Grichuk is still younger than Piscotty and offers that right-handed power that is almost extinct these days. Maybe even more important than that, though, is what Grichuk offers in the field. I’m mostly expecting to see the new No.15 manning a corner spot in Florida but with both PB and Jay coming back from surgery, it would be fitting if Grichuk was in center a lot at least early.
Either way you look at it, outfield depth still remains largely a positive for any potential movement. I could see Philadelphia wanting either player but also consider that St. Louis still has one more ace in the hole. Thanks to the wonders of competitive balance and a fairly recent rule change, the Cardinals also possess a deal breaker.
Much like when Miller was dealt instead of C-Mart if the rumors were in fact true, two months is plenty of time to decide which player has the longest future wearing the BOTB. And if Mo decides he would rather veto an offer instead of pulling the trigger, he can always sweeten the pot by tossing pick #39 into the discussion.
One thing is for certain anyway you choose to look at it. The next month and a half are going to be a lot of fun no matter what jersey number is stepping to the plate!