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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

TCN blog 2013 top story #19: Oscar’s ongoing ouchie

The only real dispute among most national prospect-watchers is whether St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras is ranked first, second or maybe third in the game. Among prospects in his number one-ranked organization, the 21-year-old is top dog.

With veteran right fielder Carlos Beltran in the final year of his contact and needing a bit more time off for his sore knees, the table seemed set for Taveras to serve his initial MLB apprenticeship in the second half of 2013.

As Allen Craig suffered an early August foot injury that finished his regular season, even more at-bats were potentially available. However, it was Matt Adams, not Taveras, who became the primary beneficiary.

By then rehabbing in Jupiter, Florida, all Taveras might do is watch the Cardinals on television as they fought deep into October and wonder what might have been.

His troubles began way back on May 12 with a slide into second base while with Triple-A Memphis. Taveras did not go onto the disabled list due to his ankle sprain until May 29 as it was not initially considered to be severe. By his June 8 return, the injury had been classified as a more problematic high ankle sprain.

The second time, Taveras only lasted 15 games before re-injuring the ankle on June 23. He returned to the DL the next day, missing his invitation to play in the MLB Futures Game and a lot more. Another return in the Gulf Coast League was aborted after just one day, on July 15, before Taveras was shut down from running.

In mid-August, Taveras’ return was said to be nearing – until the news a few days later that surgery was deemed necessary. Cartilage and ligament damage was found in his right ankle and a walking boot was required for at least eight weeks. Taveras continued his rehab into the fall at the Cardinals complex in Florida, where I took this photo in early October.

The left-handed hitter ended up playing in just 46 games for Memphis in 2013 and of course, none for St. Louis.

Despite the addition of Peter Bourjos via trade to the outfield mix to essentially take Beltran’s roster spot for 2014, if Taveras proves his health in the spring, his St. Louis debut will soon follow. Yet 2013 was a lost season for a young man who had rocketed through the organization until then.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

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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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17 Responses to “TCN blog 2013 top story #19: Oscar’s ongoing ouchie”

  1. […] Matheny’s extension 19. Oscar’s ongoing ouchie 18. 17. 16. 15. 14. 13. 12. 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. […]

  2. blingboy says:

    Paletta: Oops, I did it again.

  3. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    They will keep this story alive until he is “logically” situated in AAA. They have to keep some up grades ready so they don’t have to spend money for them. This is not a new tactic. You will know by February what his status is.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    Last winter, we opportunistically took a flier on SS Ronny Cedeno in January. Mo will probably look to add an infielder and a catcher before spring training.
    There is all sorts of wintertime happy talk about Wong, but this kid did not hit in limited ML at bats and could benefit from beginning 2014 at Memphis. If the season opened today, Descalso would likely be the 2B starter. We could use a right swinger to platoon with him, unless satisfied with Pete Komza in this role. We probably will sign somebody else to add competition.

    The movement of free agent catchers among teams has been vigorous. Since Tony Cruz is the Kozma of catchers, it would make sense for Mo to invest in more depth at catcher. Even Bernie has begun to write this, probably because he reads my posts here to borrow ideas for himself.

    • crdswmn says:

      Wong will be the starting 2B in 2014.

      Tony Cruz is a better than league average defensive catcher who has the trust of Molina and the pitching staff. As I recall this time last year you were proclaiming that Cruz would be replaced. Mo signed Rob Johnson and we all know how that turned out.

      No FA catcher who wants to play a significant amount is going to want to sign with the Cardinals to back up Yadier Molina. Even with a stint on the DL for Yadi, Cruz only started in 28 games and played 267 inning as a catcher in 2013. He had only 123 ABs, too small a sample size for anyone to judge his hitting ability.

  5. Bw52 says:

    Mo would be foolish to pass on a chance to upgrade the bench.I agree with Jumbo that Mo will likely find a RH hitting INF for depth and maybe another veteran AAA catcher for competition.Last spring Cards brought 2 veteran guys behind Cruz (Rob Johnson and JR Towles).I think several more guys will be signed as AAA Free Agents or low cost veteran depth.
    I wonder if Mo has checked out Seattle`s Nick Franklin the Switch-hitting 2B-SS from Seattle who now has been replaced by Robinson Cano? Seattle is rumored to be looking for a bat or a starting pitcher……………? Lance Lynn or Joe Kelly or Jon Jay?

    • crdswmn says:

      Mo should upgrade the bench, I have never said he shouldn’t. What I have said is the back up catcher needn’t be the primary target for that because that is the position that will get significantly less playing time than any of the others. This is an insignificant position so the focus on it is just puzzling. Audry Perez in on the 40 man so he is available in a pinch.

      There are 4 other bench spots that can be upgraded. Any or all of those should be targets.

      • Bw52 says:

        Do you think Jon Jay will still be a Cardinal when the winter meetings end?Would surprise me a bit if he ends up elsewhere.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Cruz is AAA talent. The Cards are in a strong position financially. The DeWitts can easily afford to upgrade to a ML catcher to back up Molina. Yadier spent a couple of weeks on the DL this year and needs help.
        Audry Perez has shown he cannot hit AA pitchers, let alone better ones.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        backup catcher would be a trivial upgrade if you dont consider that having a decent backup on the bench also serves as someone to fill in (for possibly an extended time) due to injury. I know the response will be that in that case we will trade for a fill in catcher but the worse the reserve catcher is the more you have to make a deal from a weakened position an the more you will end up paying.

        • crdswmn says:

          Heavens, the way folks talk about Cruz you’d think he was John Gochnaur. He has better than league average defense, and he hasn’t had more than 125 ABs in the majors so it’s too small a sample size to conclude he couldn’t handle the bat. He hit .266/.320/.413 over 5 seasons in the minors, so there is no reason to believe with more playing time he would be that terrible.

          Any more experienced catcher is not going to sign w/the Cardinals to play second fiddle to Yadier Molina in the hopes he will go down with an injury. There are guys in the minors who could be brought up in an emergency that would be a heck of lot cheaper.

          • CariocaCardinal says:

            Cruz has over 300 major league AB’s. I wont argue on his defense though I dont think he is any more than average at best.

            Arguing that no one will sign is not really relevant to the idea of whether we should make an effort to upgrade at the position.

            Comparing guys in the minors who can’t even beat out Cruz for the job to a backup that would be an upgrade over Cruz is just a plain logic failure. It really makes no sense.

            • crdswmn says:

              300 major league ABs spread out over fits and starts. No one can build a hitting profile that way.

              Who in the minors hasn’t beat out Cruz? No one has even tried that we still have in the system. He competed against Johnson and Towles last season and both are gone, Bryan Anderson before that. I’m talking about bringing someone up in the event of an extended injury to Molina to help Cruz. Those are the likely guys who will be competing to replace Yadi eventually so give them a head start. Going out and spending money on a back up catcher who won’t play enough to make it worth it is what doesn’t make sense.

              If you are going to upgrade the bench, concentrate efforts on players that are going to get some significant playing time.

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