As soon as Jhonny Peralta went down with his thumb injury, the Cardinals were linked to Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada. The Mets had three shortstops and Tejada seemed to be the odd man out. Of course, as we often see, linking happens whether or not there’s actually any concrete facts involved. People look at apparent needs on one side and apparent depth on another and create connections that may or may not exists. These links continued even as the Mets put Tejada on waivers and then, once he cleared them, when he was a free agent.
While John Mozeliak will often do something that was unexpected, there are also times where there’s no surprise whatsoever. Saturday, Mo signed up Tejada, who immediately became the leader in the replace Peralta race. So much so that Aledmys Diaz was one of nine roster cuts on Sunday, moving him to the minor league camp for regular playing time. Peralta will likely see most, if not all, the time at shortstop for the next two weeks as the Cardinals evaluate what they have, leaving Diaz to go to the minors for the at bats he needs and Jedd Gyorko and Greg Garcia to prepare to be bench players (assuming Garcia makes the club at all).
As we said about Mike Leake this offseason, moves don’t have to be exciting or even interesting to be effective. There’s no expectation that Peralta comes in and makes us forget about Peralta. There’s not even the guarantee that he’ll do more than Diaz would have done if he’d been tabbed as the starter. However, he does bring a baseline of what you can expect. It’s not an overwhelming baseline, but you don’t even have that with Diaz, who has had just a handful of at bats above the AA level. Making that jump might have been in his capabilities, but it well may not have been. When you have an easy option like Tejada, there’s no reason to force Diaz through that promotion, especially when his spring has been nice, but not really overwhelming.
In waiting until Tejada was a free agent, Mo also made it a much better deal to walk away from. He didn’t give up any prospects, low rated as they might be, and he didn’t even have to pay all of Tejada’s salary, signing him for half of the $3 million the Mets were going to pay him this season. The Cardinals paid Ty Wigginton more than that to go home and not play baseball, so if after the first month Diaz is destroying Memphis and Tejada is an automatic out, the Cards can cut him and hardly feel the financial issue. (Interestingly, I’m pretty sure Tejada is getting paid less than Diaz is, given that he signed that four-year deal when he came out of Cuba.) Tejada is also just 26 and the knock on him has been the lack of work ethic and focus. Being cut (and losing out on a million) could easily be a wake-up call and a new organization may have a fresh voice to be able to get through to him. I don’t know that we can expect him to be the latest “washed up guy makes good with St. Louis” but there’s still a possibility that he’ll turn into a huge bargain.
Tejada went 1-4 yesterday with some good defensive play as the Cards lost to the Marlins. The Cardinals are now 7-9 in the spring, not that the record really means a lot at this point of the Grapefruit League. Going forward, into these last two weeks before the season starts, I think you want to see a little more out of everyone, a little more indication that they are rounding into baseball shape, that the bats are going to get going and the arms are going to be more effective.
Michael Wacha seems to be in line for the home opener, which should make him second behind Adam Wainwright in the rotation. Wacha admits, though, that he still needs to find his command. Apparently the stuff is good, just not going where he wants it to go. As Tara said last night on Gateway, Wacha doesn’t have the stuff to just blow it by folks. He’s got to put it where he wants it and if he’s not, well, there’s a reason his spring ERA (in a measly eight innings, granted) is over 7.00. Again, you don’t really worry (or, in the case of Randal Grichuk hitting about .450, get overly excited) about spring stats, but the last two weeks would be a very good time to see some good outings from Wacha, as well as some of the others in the rotation.
I want to express my appreciation for all that voted for me in my first round #CardsMadness matchup in KangarooCourtSTL.com‘s Best Cardinal Follow Twitter competition. I was fortunate enough to win over ArtLippo and move on to the second round, where I’ll face the Court’s own CaesarMcCruddy. Voting in the Musial and Gibson regions will be going today, Brock and Smith (where I was seeded) regional play will be tomorrow. Keep an eye on their Twitter account and I’d appreciate you helping me get to the Sweet 16 tomorrow!
Cards have the Red Sox in Jupiter today before their last off day of the spring tomorrow. The game is on both FOX Sports Midwest and KMOX, so hopefully you’ll get a chance to listen or watch!