A New Wrinkle at Short

As the Cardinals played to an 8-8 tie with the Braves yesterday, a potential new member of the club was packing his bags over in Mets camp.  With an abundance of shortstops, the New York nine released Ruben Tejada to save some money on his contract.  With the fact that Jhonny Peralta‘s loss still hangs over the club, it’s obvious that many folks are trying to tie those two together.

There are benefits to getting Tejada, the main one being that all it will cost is money.  As a free agent, you could even sign him to a minor league deal to see what you have before guaranteeing him some major league playing time.  Tejada is also only 26, meaning that there might be a little more room for growth.  It’s as low risk as it comes and the club is certainly not going to find another shortstop with major league experience for a lesser rate.

That said, there are some legitimate questions on whether or not Tejada is really a solution after all.  While he hit .261 last year, more often he hits around .220.  He has minimal power and even with that average last year he was worth -0.1 WAR according to Baseball Reference.  Some of the fielding stats on his BR page don’t indicate anything special in the field either.  So is he actually worth signing and jugging the roster for?

The good thing is the Cardinals don’t really have to decide that right now.  They can keep running out Jedd Gyorko, Greg Garcia, and Aledmys Diaz and see what they have with them, knowing Tejada is likely still to be out there.  There is no one else that has such an obvious gap at shortstop and so Tejada could be a free agent well into the season.  Given what we’ve seen out of the contenders so far, especially Diaz, there may be no reason to consider Tejada after all.

Diaz is hitting .267/.333/.367 in 30 at bats this spring and while you always take spring training numbers with a grain of salt, he hasn’t look overmatched either at the plate or in the field.  I’m still not sure that he’s ready to make the jump to starter in the big leagues, but he’s making it look more likely that he could handle that.  He needs to be playing somewhere regularly, either St. Louis or Memphis, and we’ll see where he stands this time next week.  If he keeps this up, he might get to ride in a convertible in St. Louis for the home opener.

Jaime Garcia pitched three good innings yesterday.  Unfortunately, he was out there for four of them.  It’s been a rough spring for Garcia, who sports a 6.52 ERA down in Jupiter.  Again, spring training stats, but you’d still like to see the starters be sharp.  Then again, Michael Wacha has a 9.00 and the Patron Pitcher Tyler Lyons has a 7.50, so maybe we should just ignore ERA in the spring, huh?

Matthew Bowman, the Rule 5 pick in camp, struggled yesterday as well, which is not helping his case for staying in St. Louis.  Of course, Derrick Goold suggests that the last spot may come down between him and the Patron Pitcher, so you know where I’m leaning.  I could see why the club wanted Bowman before they made all their bullpen moves, but there’s really not going to be a place for him, especially since Lyons is out of options and Marco Gonzales has looked so sharp this spring.  Marco can go to Memphis (and likely will–as we say, there’s not but basically one spot not completely locked down) but it’d be tough to justify Bowman all year with Gonzales available.  We’ll see if John Mozeliak might explore a trade so that they can send Bowman to the minor leagues and have him as insurance or if he’ll just return Bowman to the Mets in a week or so.

Yadier Molina still hasn’t swung the bat in a game (though he did bunt yesterday) but took some swings in batting practice and, you’d think, is getting closer to be cleared to hit in live competition.  That still would seem to put him on pace to start the season in St. Louis, something that we’ve expected all spring long given the fact that it’s Yadier Molina.  So far, nothing seems to indicate a problem which is a wonderful thing.

Yesterday also brought us the terrible story of the former gay minor leaguer in the Cardinals system that left the game because of the extreme hostility toward homosexuals he found in the system from players, to the extreme of talking about killing gay people.  (I originally thought that there were coaches involved as well, but the story Tyler Dunnington relates regarding a coach seems to come from college instead.)

I do believe you can have religious objections and struggles with homosexuality, but if you do, that same religion requires you to love everyone, even when you don’t agree with them.  There is no cloak to hide behind when you casually talk about killing people, no matter what the reasoning is.  You treat everyone with respect, no matter what your disagreements are with them.  It’s good to hear that Mozeliak plans to look into this and work with MLB to improve the situation.  We’ll see what comes out of this, whether it is some players being cut or if it is just an improved culture in the various clubhouses.

We’ve just a couple of days left on the Cardinal Approval Ratings.  Today, we take a look at Michael Wacha.  His late season struggles last year, coupled with a voting pool that has been a bit tougher with the grades, means that he sits at 75.3%, which is….a slight increase over last year’s results?  I swear, just when I think I have a handle on this voting group, they throw another curve.  I mean, take a look at John Rooney, our media guy for the day.  Rooney did pretty much exactly what he’s done each of the 10 years he’s been on the radio, yet he slips to 71.2%, a noticeable decrease not only from last year but from his average over the past eight.  It’s his lowest ever mark, which again has me scratching my head.

Our last subject is the general manager.  Now this one I expected.  Given how this offseason went, with David Price and Jason Heyward winding up not wearing Cardinal red, I figured John Mozeliak might get dinged a bit.  He did, slipping almost 10 points to 77.8%.  Not his all-time lowest–that was before the 2011 season, when he hadn’t locked up Albert Pujols–but right with it.  We’ll see if this season helps him rebound.

You know that we’ve been Playing Pepper for a couple of weeks (the Yankees are our subject this afternoon) but occasionally one of our responding bloggers likes to turn the table on me.  Enrique from The Brewers Bar asked me a few questions about the upcoming Cardinal season, so be sure to check that out.

If you’ve been on Twitter the last few days, you know that KangarooCourtSTL.com is holding a Cardinal Twitter followers tournament.  You can find the first round matchups here and here and you can do your voting basically every hour in the afternoon on their Twitter feed.  I Tweeted out my bracket picks (I did pretty well in the first region, not looking so hot in the second) and I’m up against ArtLippo in my first round battle, coming probably tomorrow.  Art seems like a pretty good guy, so I’ll need some help to win that.  Keep an eye out and drop me a vote when it’s live!

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