The news coming out of St Louis is that Allen Craig could be recalled from the disabled list as early as today. He’s certainly making a solid claim for the recall, as he hit a three run home run and two home run last night. Craig will more than likely fill in at first base until Lance Berkman is ready and then will most likely split time between the three outfield spots and first base to give the starters at those positions days off. Even with uncertainty surrounding his position, Craig should have no problem amassing 400 at bats at least. The question now becomes what move will the Cardinals make to create room on the roster?
The decision really boils down to four players: Shane Robinson, Matt Carpenter, Erik Komatsu, and Tyler Greene. There are arguments for and against the demotion of each. Redbird Rants own Marilyn Green chimed in on this topic as well, but I have a bit of a different opinion.
Robinson has been a solid contributor as the team’s stand-in fourth outfielder. He offers versatility as he can play all three outfield positions and has put up spectacular offensive numbers. His BABIP is at an unsustainable .462, but, as he is a bench player, his regression shouldn’t be as extreme. Robinson still has options, so, even though he is performing better than Komatsu, he could be sent down as the Cardinals have no fear of losing him.
As stated earlier, Robinson is outperforming Komatsu statistically. Komatsu is a rule 5 pick, though, and can’t be sent down without either sending him back to the Nationals or working out a trade, which results in losing another player. On the other hand, in his short time with the Cardinals Komatsu has shown similarities to Adron Chambers. Both players offer outfield versatility, solid contact, and speed on the basepaths. Also, Chambers is performing exceptionally well at AAA. If the Cardinals decide to send Komatsu down, he wouldn’t really be the biggest loss for the organization.
Carpenter started out red hot as he filled in at first base for Lance Berkman. His biggest performance was a 4-4 5 RBI game against the Cubs, however he has only gone 7 for 39 since then. He has stabilized after a hot start and now with his BABIP settling in at .306, Carpenter has more than likely settled into his standard expected performance. The issue with Carpenter is his age. Since he broke out really late into his career, there really isn’t a lot of upside left. Carpenter is not a power hitter and his limited upside at this point is as a solid .300 hitter with the chance to put up good RBI totals. Basically, he’s David Freese. Since David Freese is still under team control for three more seasons and Zack Cox presents more upside as a prospect, it may not be a priority for the Cardinals to provide Carpenter with playing time if there are better options available.
Greene was supposed to have his major breakout this year. With Tony LaRussa retiring, it was believed that Greene would be able to get more playing time since his perceived enemy in the dugout was gone. New manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak both said in Spring that Greene was going to be given the chance to win the starting second base job outright. Matheny also said that he preferred Descalso in a utility role because of his versatility. Greene has struggled offensively, though, and his defense at second has been lacking. Descalso has been slightly better offensively and much better defensively. Also, Skip Schumaker‘s return from the DL created even less opportunities at second base, as he is a better offensive option than both players. Greene hasn’t gotten a start at second base since Skip’s return and it doesn’t look like there is much room for him there going forward. If Schumaker takes over at secone, Descalso has the utility infield position locked up. With Robinson, Komatsu, Schumaker, and Craig all able to play center field, there would literally be no room at all for Greene if he offers no offensive production. Quite simply, it looks like Tyler Greene might get stuck with the dreaded AAAA tag.
If I’m making the call, I’m personally sending down Tyler Greene. Realistically, Matt Carpenter will probably get sent down once Berkman returns. Assuming Berkman, Schumaker, Furcal, Freese, Beltran, Jay, and Holliday are looked at as the starters, Descalso can fill in for any of the infielders, Craig can fill in for Holliday, and Craig, Robinson, and Komatsu can fill in for any of the outfielders. There just isn’t a need for Tyler Greene. Greene may be out of options, but is it worth it to the team to keep an underperforming player over a much better and more useful bench player? That is the issue the Cardinals face today.