I previously went through the Cardinals infield, breaking down each position and what I thought of the starters at each spot. Today I’m looking at the outfield and their impact on the success (or potential failure) of the team this season.
Matt Holliday entered into his Cardinals service with great scorn from me because of the ludicrous amount of money he was signed for (7 yrs/$120M.) He’s been on and off my “list” frequently since that 2009 contract, because of his streaky offensive contributions and questionable defense. Bottom line though, the guy has delivered on the deal, putting up some of the best hitting stats by a Cardinal during his tenure.
He’s been hot recently, with 7 HR, 17 RBI and a .662 SLG% over his last 20 games. He’s been better in the outfield this season than last, and his spot is pretty much guaranteed through 2016, provided he can produce in the offseason. Provided the Cardinals can GET there, of course.
This is a much more interesting spot in St. Louis right now. Jon Jay looked to lose his place as the starter early in the season with the addition of speedster Peter Bourjos. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Bourjos never really adjusted to NL pitching (or simply isn’t very good at the plate) and has hit a dismal .219 this year. He’s been especially bad versus lefties, which effectively ruined his chance at a regular platoon with the left-handed Jay who happens to be destroying left-handed pitching so far in 2014.
Jay was outstanding manning center field last year, but looked shaky this season, opening the door for Bourjos who can track down just about anything hit near him with his fleet feet. Jay has been solid with the bat though, and when he’s healed up from a wrist injury he’ll likely return to more every day play, with Bourjos one of the few right-handed bats off the bench.
Now is the time of Oscar Taveras, and whither the rookie’s offense will go, so will go the chance for the Cardinals to extend their season come October. With the recent trade of Allen Craig to the Red Sox, Taveras has taken over as a regular in right, and can also play center if necessary. The organization, possibly excepting Mike Matheny, wants his bat in the lineup daily, and the expectation is that he’ll be an everyday guy for the remainder of the season.
If he can get into a groove the Cards may pose a serious threat to the Brewers for the Central title. Oscar has 3 extra-base hits including a HR, 2 walks, 5 RBI and is hitting .308 since Craig’s ousting. Looks like the youngster is ready for the challenge.
Sadly, the Cardinals bench is (not) enhanced by one reserve outfielder, right-handed hitting Shane Robinson, who has about as much business on a big league roster as that Descalso chump. Fortunately, St. Louis has prospects in the AAA Memphis outfield who could potentially help the team yet this year, led by Steven Piscotty and Randall Grichuk.
I’ll wrap up my Cardinals evaluation next with an overview of the battery, including the starting rotation as it might look for post-season, the bullpen and the future of a certain All-Star catcher for this season. Are the Cards contenders or pretenders? Come back to find out.