June 13, 2014

Dear #Cardinals fans — sorry, but Mozeliak is not a magician

A number of Cardinals fans are grumbling over Oscar Taveras, namely, John Mozeliak sending him back down to Memphis with Matt Adams coming off the DL, meaning Allen Craig moves back to RF, except against left-handed hitters.

First, yes, Adams needs to platoon for the rest of this year. No argument there. Let him learn to hit lefties better in winter ball or other offseason work.

That said, is Taveras the best RF option when Craig moves to first? Uhh, no. And neither is the even worse-hitting Randal Grichuk.

To be honest, the best option in such cases, based on this year's performance to date, is Jon Jay in right and Peter Bourjos in center.

That brings up a larger point to people deriding Mozeliak.

I highly doubt that he expected, at the start of the year, every single outfielder, whether starter, reserve or call-up, would be playing at or below MLB average.

And, yet, every one is, going by Baseball-Reference's Wins Above Average. That includes Jay, even with his flukishly good performance this year. That includes Matt Holliday.

As for Mo's offseason moves?

Mark Ellis is a smaller-dollar gamble that is probably not going to pan out. But, it was smaller dollar, and an insurance play as much as anything. Jhonny Peralta’s been a definite overall improvement, even if not totally what was hoped for. Kolten Wong instead of DavidFreese, in essence, as I won’t include Matt Carpenter of this year vs. Carpenter of last year? Definitely worth it.

All in all, this year's infield is above last year's. For detractors of Adams, he's still an above-average first baseman. The changes at the other three IF positions improved overall defense as well as offense. Yadier Molina, while off from last year, is of course still well above average behind the plate.

Indeed, by runs saved, the Cards now have the best defense in baseball.

Trading Freese for Bourjos plus Grichuk? Unless Freese rides his current hot streak for the rest of the season, it’s a wash at minimum. And part of that defensive upgrade.

Unfortunately, this year's outfield has been poor overall, with Jay being a "meh" and Holliday continuing to decline, and everybody else being ... teh suck.

So, send Taveras back down rather than Grichuk, who's on his second call-up. See if he can't incorporate what he learned during his call-up and bring it back later this year.

At some point, if Grichuk shows no improvement, though, I would give Stephen Piscotty his shot. Bernie Miklasz makes an argument for bringing back Shane Robinson. I disagree, but note that the "more playing time' argument does apply for Grichuk at least as much as Taveras.

I can agree with his wondering whether this isn't in part a Super Two arbitration concern.

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