The Cardinal Nation blog

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

TCN blog 2013 top story #15: The Craig-Adams two-step

“Exhibit A” to support an assertion that Allen Craig was the Cardinals’ most important hitter in 2013 is his team-leading total of 97 RBI. “Exhibit B” is his prowess batting with runners in scoring position as measured by his MLB-leading and unworldly .454 batting average in those situations.

All that occurred despite Craig missing almost the entire final two months of the regular season and the first two rounds of the post-season.

As September opened, the Cardinals were battling Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the tight National League Central Division race. Losing three of four in the Queen City at the start of the month was bad enough, but they lost Craig in the process.

The actual transition from Craig to rookie Matt Adams at first base was most symbolic. It all happened within the confines of the 16-inning win in Cincinnati on August 4th.

Though Adams hit a team-record two extra-inning home runs to lead the Cards over the Reds, the only reason the big first baseman was in the game due to a sprained foot suffered by Craig.

Craig remained out for the entire remainder of the regular season due to what was later diagnosed as a Lisfranc injury. The right-handed swinger did return as a designated hitter in the World Series.

In the interim, Adams stepped in admirably, with eight home runs and 15 RBI during those crucial September contests. Though it did not occur initially, Adams eventually slid into Craig’s vacated clean-up spot in the batting order. Adams’ line during the month was .315/.344/.609/.952. The left-handed hitter was quiet in the NLCS and World Series after a good Division Series against Pittsburgh.

With the Cardinals expecting better things from both Craig and Adams as projected regulars in 2014 and needing at-bats for top prospect Oscar Taveras as well, the club let incumbent right fielder Carlos Beltran leave as a free agent. All three will need to step up.

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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21 Responses to “TCN blog 2013 top story #15: The Craig-Adams two-step”

  1. […] ouchie 18. Beltran walks again 17. Eventful external minor league ownership 16. Missing Motte 15. The Craig-Adams two-step 14. 13. 12. 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. […]

  2. crdswmn says:

    The real issue is going to be later on, when the dilemma is getting Craig, Adams and Taveras all in the lineup. The cry for Taveras to play CF regularly is going to become a loud roar. You have to wonder whether trading for Bourjos was a subtle hint that Taveras isn’t seen as the long term CFer.

    So, with Craig being locked up for the forseeable future, and Holliday a fixture in LF for 3 more seasons, what in the heck to do with Oscar? Unless Adams is traded and Craig moved back to 1B, where is his final destination?

    • Brian Walton says:

      My guess is that someone will be injured later on and the depth highlighted above will again prove to be important.

      If Bourjos plays well defensively and hits enough, his job should be safe. If he doesn’t hit and the offense struggles, I could see why they’d consider playing Oscar in CF.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Ellis is a good procurement. He provides a veteran for 2B. He is a gamer, has beaten us in a few games.
    Ellis played SS for Florida or Florida State, with David Eckstein at second base. In the pros, they switched roles.
    Because the Cards are in a strong financial position and are perceived as a playoff, this gives them leverage to land a guy like Ellis.
    Peralta and Ellis up the middle is a lot stronger than Kozma and Descalso, with whom we tried to slip past the Giants in 2012.

  4. blingboy says:

    The Cards official site has the shortstop depth as Peralta, Descalso, Kozma.

    CF is Bourjos, Jay, Robinson.

    Any guesses what the 2B depth looks like when Ellis is added?

    • Nutlaw says:

      Wong, Ellis, Descalso, I guess.

      There’s a problem with Wong and Ellis both being second basemen only, or at least not shortstops. You’d take Descalso over Kozma if you were sure that he didn’t have to man short very often both because he hits better and left handed, but having a late game defensive sub for Peralta wouldn’t be too bad.

      Given the fact that he hits left handed and can play short, I actually see Garcia as a better fit for a bench that includes Ellis than either Kozma or Descalso.

      • Nutlaw says:

        The Cards will want five outfielders on the roster next year with Jay and Taveras or Robinson on the bench, so that only means two backup infielders, right?

        • Brian Walton says:

          Yes. I would be very, very surprised if they went with three infielders and only one outfielder on the bench.

          I posted a poll over on the TCN message board so folks can vote their preference.

          • crdswmn says:

            It will be either Descalso or Kozma for sure. Probably Kozma because Matheny has some crazy idea that Descalso can actually play defense well.

            The thought of Descalso being our starting shortstop if, God forbid, Peralta goes down with a significant injury, makes me physically ill. If that happens, I hope they would bring either Garcia or Kozma up and save us from disaster.

    • Brian Walton says:

      We have this same discussion every winter, so I will go shorthand here. There is no evidence that the depth charts reflect the thinking of anyone in the organization.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    2B can be a R/L platoon of Ellis and Wong.
    Descalso probably makes the team over Kozma, because good defending 3B and can handle 2B and SS too. He provides the most IF depth.
    This could hinge too on what the Cards think of Greg Garcia. If they do not think Garcia can defend SS at the ML level, this would be a reason to keep Pete around. If Garcia can defend SS, then we can trade Pete.
    Oscar can begin 2014 playing everyday at Memphis, with Robinson as the 5th OF.

  6. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    The Ellis contract has caught me a little off guard. I sense a cleansing move coming up here. Who is in line for a contract? Somebody is leaving.

    Leave Danny D. alone. He has had a pretty tough situation in the last 6 months. If they would ever just ask the kid to play a role. But they didn’t did they. He took more big cuts than Holiday.

    • blingboy says:

      Ellis signing with the Cards this early when the Yankees need an everyday second baseman is what catches me off guard. It can’t just be amount the money since the Yankees have more.

      This from Goold’s article:

      “The Cardinals intend to give Wong every opportunity to win the starting job at second base.”…d566502ec7.html

      That sentence could very well be read as saying the job is not Wong’s unless he wins it. If it was put to Ellis in those terms, his signing at this early stage makes a lot more sense.

      • Brian Walton says:

        Seems like business as usual to me. When have the Cardinals ever given a job to a rookie on a silver platter? The addition of Ellis was a wise hedge. If Wong comes to camp and plays well, he has nothing to worry about. There will still be plenty of infield at-bats for Ellis. If Wong stumbles, they can afford to be more patient with him.

        My guess about the Yankees is that they may have been focused on trying to make a Brandon Phillips trade work and/or maybe they did not offer as much money. Or perhaps Ellis, a South Dakota guy, preferred to play in the Midwest. Not everyone is itching to play in New York nor do all families want to live there. We will probably never know for sure, but the Cards are clearly the beneficiary.

        • blingboy says:

          What if the Reds are not able to move Phillips, after having attempted to? That has the potential to create some drama in Cincy next season. How fun would that be! (For us, not them)

          And they still owe him $50 Million.

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