[Nameplate] Fog ~ 59°F  
High: 81°F ~ Low: 55°F
Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014

Cards' Craig Locked Up, Adams in Limbo

Posted Monday, March 11, 2013, at 9:06 AM

The St. Louis Cardinals announced Friday that they have signed first baseman Allen Craig to a five-year, $31 million extension.

While this is huge news for the Cardinals and Craig, another player is left in an awkward position: Matt Adams.

Adams, once viewed as the team's future first baseman, is now left to wonder what the future has in store for him. Given that he is not a multi-position player, there is virtually no chance of seeing him play elsewhere in the field.

During spring training, Adams has put on a strong showing that makes any decision that keeps his bat out of the lineup more painful. Through 11 games he is batting .385/.429/.654 with two home runs and seven RBI, and he has a 1.082 OPS.

To say the 24-year-old from Pennsylvania has had a good spring is a serious understatement.

Adams has set records throughout the Cardinals minor league system and been littered with awards, but the chances of seeing him as an everyday Cardinal have dwindled over the past year.

Of course, Adams was already blocked--first by Albert Pujols, and then by Craig. The only way for Adams to reach St. Louis and stay there was either via injury or by playing at a level that left no other option.

Baseball statistician Bill James, according to FanGraphs.com, predicts Adams to bat .282/.323/.513 with 27 home runs and 89 RBI over 145 games in 2013. Those are not the numbers of a bench bat.

Playing to that level hasn't gotten him the everyday job, but not all hope is lost for Adams. There are still options, even after signing Craig, that would allow the Cardinals to make use of Adams.

Trade chip

One possibility, as many have mentioned, is that Adams could be a valuable trade chip to other teams. Slugging first baseman aren't exactly a dime a dozen, and Adams is no exception.

While trading Adams isn't my first choice, his showing in spring training should remind potential partners of his value. A strong showing at the major league level should help to strengthen that opinion. With that said, if he's unable to get at-bats consistently, being at the major league level could hurt his ability.

If he's on the big league team, he needs to be getting at-bats.

The Cardinals definitely have the need for a strong trading chip aside from their young pitching. While Pete Kozma is set to take the reins at shortstop in 2013 following the loss of Rafael Furcal, he has yet to show that he should be the Cardinals' permanent shortstop.

While that day could come, it's not here yet, and the Cardinals will surely be looking at outside options for the future.

Adams could be a centerpiece in a deal to bring in a big-name, long-term shortstop via trade.

Shift Craig to RF

Another possible, yet less likely scenario that would get Adams' bat in the lineup involves moving Craig to right field.

With prospect Oscar Taveras on the horizon, this would be difficult. It would have to involve moving someone else that another organization could see value in--like Jon Jay. I'm not advocating a trade of Jay, but it is always a possibility.

In that instance, Taveras could play center field, where he is playing in the minor leagues. This would allow the possibility of giving additional rest to Carlos Beltran this year and having Craig in right field.

While that only helps for this year, when Beltran's contract is up, it could become a more permanent move.

The lingering question in this scenario is whether or not Craig could handle a permanent move to the outfield. Even though his injuries have been flukes more than anything else, knee issues are knee issues. Sometimes they go away, but quite often they come back repeatedly.

So far in his career, Craig has not played 120 games. This year the team will be expecting a full season from him, and given the oddball nature of many of his injuries, there's little reason to doubt that he can make it happen.

To have both his and Adams' bat in the everyday lineup would make the Cardinals hands down the most power-filled lineup in the division, possibly the entire National League. At the least, it's a possibility worth considering.

Use as DH, fill-in at 1B as Craig spells outfield

With the new perpetual interleague play, there will be more use for a player who can be a DH, but not enough to justify having one full-time.

With Adams as DH during interleague play, he could then be used to fill in at first base while Craig gave additional rest to either Matt Holliday or Beltran.

This isn't the ideal situation because it would replace a solid bat (Holliday/Beltran) with another solid bat. On a positive note, by keeping Adams, the Cardinals would have good insurance to back up Craig in the event of an injury.

Few teams have the luxury of having a viable candidate to backup a 30 HR first baseman. The Cardinals do.

This plan could get Adams 350 or more at-bats in 2013. Whether those at-bats lead to him becoming a member of the Cardinals or a trade chip, he needs to be swinging a bat.

He's earned his shot in the minor leagues repeatedly and once again in spring training. The best thing for the Cardinals is to find a way to keep both of these guys in the lineup.Use as DH, fill-in at 1B as Craig spells outfield

With the new perpetual interleague play, there will be more use for a player who can be a DH, but not enough to justify having one full-time.

With Adams as DH during interleague play, he could then be used to fill in at first base while Craig gave additional rest to either Matt Holliday or Beltran.

This isn't the ideal situation because it would replace a solid bat (Holliday/Beltran) with another solid bat. On a positive note, by keeping Adams, the Cardinals would have good insurance to back up Craig in the event of an injury.

Few teams have the luxury of having a viable candidate to backup a 30 HR first baseman. The Cardinals do.

This plan could get Adams 350 or more at-bats in 2013. Whether those at-bats lead to him becoming a member of the Cardinals or a trade chip, he needs to be swinging a bat.

He's earned his shot in the minor leagues repeatedly and once again in spring training. The best thing for the Cardinals is to find a way to keep both of these guys in the lineup.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I believe the third option is the best option. As long as we have him we should use him, and gives the old guys a rest.

But there are 2 problems. one you usually want your premiere slugger staying in one spot so he can be comfortable. Also if Adams struggles at the plate could hurt what we could get in return, but on the flip side he could help his trade status and help us win some games at the same time!

-- Posted by Kobeyashi on Mon, Mar 11, 2013, at 10:30 AM

Oh I agree. If Adams is here, let him swing his bat. To have at least some success at the major league level would do a lot for his trade value if that's the route they decide to take. He's definitely been putting on a show down in Florida, may as well bring it to St. Louis.

-- Posted by Corey Noles on Mon, Mar 11, 2013, at 11:18 AM

I am pretty greedy, so my philosophy is you can never have too much of anything.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Mon, Mar 11, 2013, at 11:36 AM

Option #3 is the way to go. Adams is an offensive weapon. I think he will get plenty of playing time.

Let's use 20 games as a barometer.

1B Craig 10 games and Adams 10 games

RF Beltran 15 games and Craig 5 games

LF Holliday 18 games and Caig 2 games

You are getting Adams in the lineup 1/2 the time as a starter. (Not including PH opportunities)

Craig is in the lineup 17 of 20 games

Beltran is getting the down time.

Holliday is getting a few days off.

I can see by the latest 2015 but maybe even 2014 the NL adopting the DH. That's another reason to hang on to a player like Matt Adams.

-- Posted by Storm#8 on Mon, Mar 11, 2013, at 12:00 PM

I personally hope the NL doesn't adopt a DH. I like how it is now just fine. With that said, the with the the balanced Leagues now and interleague play being a daily/weekly thing now Adams' bat will be huge in the lineup.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Mon, Mar 11, 2013, at 12:08 PM

Jolly I agree, but if the AL has it I think the NL should have it or vice versa. I think it is so stupid that the two leagues have different styles of play because of a rule. Either both have it, or don't. I am afraid though with trying to make it more entertaining the NL will eventually follow suit and get the DH.

Storm that sounds good to me! Anyone else worry about that theory of letting your key players stick in one position? I am not a believer, but some people are.

-- Posted by Kobeyashi on Mon, Mar 11, 2013, at 12:30 PM

Only problem with option three is Ty Wiggington. Wiggy is getting paid 2.5 million dollars this year to basically do what option #3 is outlining. It is worrisome but I have hope since Mozeliak has stated he thinks Adams has earned a trip north this spring. Also Option #3 isn't really viable long term option either because Craig will be quickly losing his ability to play OF here eventually due his recurring knee problems and how much it would cost to pay both Craig and Adams if they both got 350-400 at bats a year. We probably need to find a way to turn Adams into a long term answer at SS somehow.

-- Posted by Bunk on Mon, Mar 11, 2013, at 7:56 PM

I'm not sure what I would do about this problem.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Mon, Mar 11, 2013, at 8:19 PM

Thanks for contributing

-- Posted by Bunk on Mon, Mar 11, 2013, at 8:45 PM

By the way I think the DH hits the NL in 3-7 years tops. It is unfortunately gonna happen despite the fact that it isn't real baseball and we should all force the AL to abandon the DH

-- Posted by Bunk on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 12:19 PM

The DH thing has been harped about for years and years now. Personally, I like the two different ways its done because its interesting watching a AL pitcher taking swings for only his 1st time as a big league player.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 12:22 PM

The problem is that it presents an economic advantage for AL teams in free agency one league is gonna have to conform to another and unfortunately offense rules everything so the NL is screwed

-- Posted by Bunk on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 12:27 PM

With the 15 teams in each league now we will see interleague play on daily basis. With that comes the need for each league to play the game the same way.

Imagine if we had something like this in football. Let's say the AFC always had to go for a 2 point conversion while the NFC always had to kick for the extra point. Then when an AFC team and a NFC met during the season you had go by the home team's rules. Sounds pretty stupid? That's exactly what we have with the DH or no DH issue.

Come on MLB you are moving in the right direction with some of the recent decisions, it's time to get this one settled too. For me, now is the time to adopt the DH in both leagues. I'm tired of seeing pitchers pulling rib cage muscles swinging and tearing ankle ligaments trying to slide.

-- Posted by Storm#8 on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 12:40 PM

You take all the fun of the game by adopting the DH rule in the NL. I was never a fan of Carlos Zambrano, but man he could hit. One of the best hitting pitchers in the game. Rick Ankiel displayed some flashes of brilliant hitting in his rookie year as a pitcher. It just takes away from the fun-ness of the game.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 1:10 PM

Well its unfortunate but necessary I think.

-- Posted by Bunk on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 1:41 PM

Its not necessary. You're only displaying your fondness for change with this issue.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 2:04 PM

No it's called accepting reality Jolly. Truth is that NL clubs can't compete with AL clubs contract wise for sluggers who can transition from defense to the DH in the back portion of these huge deals. Owners dislike that, GMs don't want to work around it, and players union is all about player X getting as much as possible.

-- Posted by Bunk on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 3:09 PM

You don't have to DH for the pitcher. There have been some really good hitting pitchers over the years. With Zambrano and Ankiel, I wouldn't DH for the them. I would DH for a weak hitting SS or CF. Those guys need to be swinging the bat!

-- Posted by Storm#8 on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 3:10 PM

That brings up another disadvantage to a NL GM though. Take the Cardinals for example. We shouldin all actuality being trying to put the best defensive option at short but we are putting a marginal defensive SS out there since we may need the offense. Lets say Mo could build the roster allowing for Matt Adams( bringing this puppy full circle Corey) bat to be in the lineup instead of the pitchers. We could solve our need at SS by playing the defensively superior Ryan Jackson instead of Kozma. It just presents to many disadvantages to the NL to have to different styles in play

-- Posted by Bunk on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 3:18 PM

I don't think the rule is like that Storm. Corey, can you clarify this rule for us? I'm usually pretty good about my baseball rules.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 3:43 PM

Bunk the AL teams have to deal with the situation of benching a defensive player in favor of their DH. Meanwhile all the NL teams are playing on the level playing field.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 3:46 PM

What? No they don't. AL teams bench their pitcher's offense( almost 100% of the time) while all the position players hit.

-- Posted by Bunk on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 4:18 PM

When AL teams play NL teams, yes that does happen.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 4:35 PM

The point is about roster contruction year round. If you know you have a DH then you don't have to worry about getting offense in some key defensive spots where offense is at a premium. If both leagues had the same system than the problem you described would go away

-- Posted by Bunk on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 4:41 PM

I don't consider that a problem! I consider one of nuances of the game I love more than anything.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 5:29 PM

Hey Corey you hear anything about the rumor the Cardinals are now pursuing Elvis Andrus again? I don't have any sources so I wasn't sure if I should just chalk this up to rampant Internet speculation or not?

-- Posted by Bunk on Wed, Mar 13, 2013, at 12:24 PM

How much is Elvis Andrus making?

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Wed, Mar 13, 2013, at 1:59 PM

Not a lot I think he is still on his rookie/ minor league deal for two more seasons before arbitration so he will be cheap in that sense

-- Posted by Bunk on Wed, Mar 13, 2013, at 2:07 PM

I'm comfortable letting Kozma start the season at SS.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Wed, Mar 13, 2013, at 9:29 PM


Respond to this blog

Posting a comment requires free registration. If you already have an account, enter your username and password below. Otherwise, click here to register.

Username:

Password:  (Forgot your password?)

Your comments:
Please be respectful of others and try to stay on topic.


Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

UCB logo
UCB logo
BBA logo