Though we don’t yet know the severity of the shoulder injury St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay suffered during Thursday’s game, there is plenty of speculation and suggestion about what the club might do in response.
Already down one man due to a recurrence of Lance Berkman’s calf injury, the club appears to be ready to bring Skip Schumaker off rehab early for the second consecutive year. That is clearly a performance downgrade. As good as fill-in first baseman Matt Carpenter has been in the early going, he isn’t Berkman.
Of course, Schumaker is more relevant in the context of Jay’s potential replacement. Skip can step in if needed, but what about the Cardinals bench? The immediate options in Memphis to backfill Jay’s roster spot, infielder Pete Kozma (.261) and outfielder Adron Chambers (.229) haven’t started 2012 particularly well with the bat. Neither have third baseman Zack Cox (.137) and catcher Bryan Anderson (.045), other slow-starting Memphians. Like Kozma and Chambers, they are on the 40-man roster, but don’t fit well with the current needs from a defensive position perspective.
Some of the anxious and excited, especially those who don’t understand or care how rosters work, want to see hard-hitting first baseman Matt Adams head up I-55 from Memphis to St. Louis today. They apparently believe one Matt – Adams – would be a substantial upgrade starting at first base over the “other” Matt – Carpenter.
However, the Cardinals’ 40-man roster is full. Some suggest moving the “main” Carpenter, Chris, to the 60-day disabled list to create roster space for Adams.
The situation is more complex than that.
If the Cardinals truly believe that Chris Carpenter won’t be ready until June, then there is little immediate risk in putting him on the 60-day DL retroactive to the start of the season.
One problem is that no one knows. What if Carp improves next week? Is it worth the risk of not being able to use Carp for several weeks compared to the difference between your 25th man being a player already on the roster and one that is not?
Further, taking such a step now would force making a tough roster decision as soon as Carp is ready to come off the 60-day. Whenever it would be, another player will have to be dropped. One has to assess the risk of long-term loss for potential of some short-term gain.
The last two players the Cards removed from the 40-man were both snapped up off the waiver wire. One could argue that both reliever Adam Ottavino and especially outfielder Andrew Brown could be of value to the Cardinals right now had they remained.
Some of the many interrelated factors that must be considered by general manager John Mozeliak include the following:
- How long will Berkman and Jay be out?
- How long until Allen Craig will be ready?
- Is Mark Hamilton getting closer from returning from his spring injury?
- How much would the new player to be added to the 40-man and 25-man, Adams, actually play?
- How much of an improvement would that be over what Matt Carpenter is providing?
- How would this affect Adams’ contract status and potential free agency down the road?
- Who would the Cardinals drop from the 40-man when Chris Carpenter is healthy?
Bottom line, I am not among those clamoring for Adams – based on what we know right now. If the variables change significantly, so might my point of view.