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Potential reserves for the Cardinals reserves

A recent comment by blingboy led me to ponder the question that led to this post – Who might the reserves behind the St. Louis Cardinals reserves be?

Of course, we have to begin with those projected to make up the season-opening five-man bench. My current thinking:

Catcher – Tony Cruz
Corner infield – Ty Wigginton
Middle infield – Daniel Descalso
Outfield – Shane Robinson
First base – Matt Adams

Adams making the team is the shakiest prediction, in my opinion. This implies Ronny Cedeno will be released and Daniel Descalso serves as the reserve shortstop as well as second baseman. Also inherent in the assumptions is that Matt Carpenter is the more regular starter at second.

It should go without saying that I could be wrong, but those are my assumptions for this article today.

Back up, back up catcher

Even if Audry Perez is pushed up to Memphis, one would think he would not be called up to St. Louis to sit on the bench if Tony Cruz suffers an injury or (gasp) he has to play regularly for Yadier Molina.

More likely, whichever veteran between Rob Johnson and J.R. Towles is kept around into the regular season at Memphis would get the nod. I am guessing both will not remain past spring camp. Johnson received the majority of the playing time earlier, with Towles seeing more action lately. I base my Johnson guess as being the most mentor-qualified of the two, but that is without any proof.

No matter what, a 40-man roster berth would be required to bring another catcher to St. Louis. That does not appear to be a problem right now. Chris Carpenter’s spot is open and another could be created by placing Rafael Furcal onto the 60-day disabled list as well.

Back up, back up corner infielder

This job was Carpenter’s before he became a second baseman and Ty Wigginton was signed. The latter’s primary positions are first and third base, but his main role may be right-handed pinch-hitter. If there was an obvious backfill for this role in Memphis, perhaps Wigginton would not have been signed to a two-year contract in the first place.

With Adams assumed to be in St. Louis, there are no MLB-ready first or third basemen in Memphis. The good news is that there are other options to back up the corners if Wigginton is injured. For example, Descalso has played some third already. The catchers are among those with first baseman mitts in their bags.

Back up, back up middle infielder

OK, so the above answer was a cop-out. I did not name a reserve-reserve there, but I get a second chance here. Before last September, one would have thought Ryan Jackson would be the next infielder called up from Memphis. The curious handling of Jackson coupled with all the spring talk about Greg Garcia makes this far less clear.

Both players could see enough time at the corners as well as the middle infield positions in Memphis to be able to help out in St. Louis if called. Jackson has the 40-man roster spot and the Triple-A experience, but how long will that last?

Back up, back up outfielder

Adron Chambers’ spring play has been eclipsed by Shane Robinson’s other-worldly performance. Still, Chambers has been up before and done a credible job. Hitting left-handed in contrast to Robinson’s right-handed bat might require other role juggling, but I don’t think it is a show-stopper for Chambers.

I see Adron as the clear leader here.

Back up, back up first baseman

We all know it. The Cards do not currently need Adams defensively. They want his bat. Given I had this roster spot earmarked for the middle infielder Cedeno until this week, if Adams really makes the team, his replacement if he gets injured could be anyone.

Unfortunately, the organization does not have another designated masher at the ready in Memphis. Well, check that. I don’t see the Cardinals being willing to bring up Oscar Taveras for spot duty. My best guess is that Chambers or perhaps one of the infielders would get the call if Adams is injured.

What do you think? Let’s discuss it below.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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16 Responses to “Potential reserves for the Cardinals reserves”

  1. blingboy says:

    You were supposed to provide a soothing answer confidently explaining how everything is fine.

    As I read it, as far as infield, plan C is Jackson or Garcia, and I can see Jackson getting picked up if we remove him from the 40 man.

    The fact seems to be there is no ML ready stand-in infielder of any sort, corner or middle, nor any IF UT.

    I agree on Chambers, if Robinson or Jay go down, or if a corner OF goes down short term. If Holliday or Beltran are out for the duration, it would have to be Taveras, IMO.

    There sure is going to be opportunity for infielders in the system.

    • Nutlaw says:

      I agree that Taveras jumps up to take a starting OF spot in case of injury, though not in the case of an injury to a backup. I think that he takes over for Jay as well.

      I’m happy with Jackson as IF depth. Cedeno isn’t cut yet, as well. Wong isn’t that far out. Matt Adams and Matt Carpenter/Daniel Descalso are more than enough depth to fill in for injury to IF starters.

      I think that the team’s depth is pretty darned good. We don’t even need to discuss right handed pitching in the rotation or bullpen.

  2. blingboy says:

    Maybe Brian can schmooze some insiders at the complex and get the scoop on the muddled middle infield depth situation.

  3. blingboy says:

    Joe Strauss, who knows everything, had this to say in his ‘chat’ today:

    “Carpenter is farther along than Schumaker was because he spent the entire winter practicing at the position. Schumaker arrived a week early to begin his initiation. Carpenter’s actions are surprisingly fluid. However, with a contingency already in place at SS, I wonder how often the club will expose a novice at second base. Descalso has shown improved offense this spring and remains the better defender. Carpenter is also a weapon off the bench. I don’t know if we’ll see him get more than 1-2 starts a week at the position. But his showing this spring at least offers Matheny more of an option than many may have expected.”

    • Brian Walton says:

      Current party line is that Carpenter is a second baseman – period. Of course that could change at a moment’s notice, but if he is going back to being a utilityman, it would be helpful for him to get reps at other positions before the games count.

      It also implies a back up SS would make the team since Descalso would have to play everyday if he also backed up Kozma. … and Adams would go to Memphis…

  4. jj-cf-stl says:

    carp2 starting the majority at 2B, with brians bench, is what i’m hoping for.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    I have different assumptions than Brian’s:
    I doubt the Cards want Adams playing infrequently in the Majors, but regularly at AAA.
    I think Descalso will get much play at 2B. He will be the more reliable fielder than Matt Carpenter, who can collect spot starts and serve in the event of injury. Defense is still important. If it were not, then Allen Craig would still be at 2B and Adams could grab 1B.
    Any team that will invest $2.5MM/yr in old Wiggy will surely pay Ronny and Aura $1.2MM/yr to contribute defense and backup Kozma.

    Now that they have muddled up Ryan Jackson so he doubts himself, we need Ronny all the more.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    One of Brian’s previous assumptions may have subsided, happily. This was the idea of using Carlos Beltran in CF against LHPs. With chronic knee pain, Beltran’s days of playing CF are behind him. Mike played him in a game last year and must have vowed never again. We need an active CF to cover a lot of ground between lumbering corner OFs. Carlos is not that guy, whereas Jay, Robinson, and Chambers can do that.
    I remember the final playing days of Ray Langford. TLR put him in CF in a game against the Cubs and Sammy Sosa smoked one to CF. Deer in the headlights. Poor Langford looked like his legs were stuck in cement. He could not get within 20 feet of where the ball landed. It looked horrible. Langford was inactivated soon after. Because a guy once had the legs to cover CF does not mean he can always cover CF.

    • Brian Walton says:

      There is a difference between an assumption and a preference. My primary preference at the time was to see Adams on the roster ahead of Robinson. Beltran was just a part of the shell moves to justify it.

      Instead, if both Adams and Robinson make it and Cedeno is the man out, I won’t shed tears.

      I suspect you knew that already, but wanted a chance to pontificate about Lankford. If that is the case, proceed, but please leave me out. Thanks. 😉

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