The K-Zone: Examining The Back End of the Roster

When you take a minute to examine the Cardinals 40 man roster it becomes fairly apparent that there are only a couple of spots on the 25 man roster that will be open that invite any intrigue during this spring. What’s truly interesting is the split between the every day guys, and the pitching staff. Will the Cards carry 12 pitchers and 13 hitters, or will they opt for the reverse? For obvious reasons the following guys are locks to make the roster:

Pitchers – Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn, Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook, Jaime Garcia, Randy Choate, Mark Rzepczynski, Trevor Rosenthal, and Fernando Salas.

Hitters – Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Pete Kozma, David Freese, Yadier Molina, Tony Cruz, and Daniel Descalso.

That’s 22 guys, leaving 3 spots currently open. Conventional wisdom would tell you that Ronny Cedeno and Ty Wigginton will make the team by virtue of their off season contracts. For those of you that have been living under a rock, or perhaps in a cave, Cedeno signed a 1 year, 1.15 million dollar deal in the off season. Likewise, Wigginton signed a 2 year, 5 million dollar deal. The real question is: Should we buck conventional wisdom and assume these 2 gentlemen are playing for their spots this spring? If your answer is no, then there is only 1 spot available for what appears to be the following 4 players: Shelby Miller, should the Cards decide to go with13 pitchers, or, Matt Adams, Adron Chambers, and Shane Robinson, should the Cards opt for 13 hitters on the roster. If your answer is yes, then the 6 guys mentioned in this paragraph are vying for 3 spots. Is there truly a case to be made for cutting 2 veteran players with somewhat spotty track records? I believe the answer is yes, and here is why.

The Facts and Nothing but The Facts

Cedeno has had 25 at bats this spring, connecting for 6 hits (1 double, 1 HR), while walking 4 times and striking out 7 times. He has driven in 5 runs and scored 7 runs. Quick math shows his average to be .240. His On Base Percentage currently resides at .345.

Wigginton has had 32 at bats this spring, connecting for 4 hits (1 double), while walking 5 times and striking out 4 times. He has driven in 1 run and scored 2 runs. His average is currently .125. and his On Base Percentage currently resides at .243.

Chambers has had 39 at bats this spring, connecting for 11 hits (2 doubles, 1 HR), while walking 3 times and striking out 2 times. He has stolen 3 bases. He has driven in 6 runs and scored 6 runs. His average is currently .282 and his On Base Percentage currently resides at .318.

Robinson has had 30 at bats this spring, connecting for 15 hits (5 doubles, 3 HR), while walking 4 times and striking out 3 times. He has stolen 2 bases. He has driven in 11 runs and scored 11 runs. His average is currently .500 and his On Base Percentage currently resides at .559.

Adams has had 31 at bats this spring, connecting for 10 hits (1 double, 2 HR), while walking 2 times and striking out 7 times. He has driven in 7 runs and scored 4 runs. His average is currently .323 and his On Base Percentage currently resides at .364.

Who gets the nod? 

If you disregard salaries, and examine this situation on production alone it is very clear that both Robinson and Chambers have done enough to merit a spot on this team. At this point Cedeno is a tough player to quantify because while his numbers are not jumping off the page, he does have the ability to play the toughest position on the diamond, shortstop. The least impressive line by far belongs to the highest paid player of the group who was brought in to be a power source from the bench with the ability to spell both corner infield positions. During research for this post, I came across an article penned by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch back in mid-December which contained the following valuable piece of information in my eyes:

“Wigginton hit all 11 of his home runs last season as a starter. In 41 pinch-hit appearances he hit .152/.293/.182. In his career he has just more than 100 at-bats as a pinch hitter and is a .233 hitter with a .350 slugging percentage.”

Those numbers give me great pause with regards to Wigginton taking one of these final 3 spots on the 25 man roster. Some players are mentally geared to be able to come off the bench and produce. Others are not, and I fear that Wigginton may be one of those players.

If it were up to me, I would reward both Robinson and Chambers with roster spots because they have earned them this spring, and because they both bring an element of need to the Redbirds which is speed on the base paths. I wouldn’t carry Wigginton, regardless of his salary because of the above evidence, and because the Cards are also carrying a player in Matt Carpenter that can spell both Allen Craig at first and David Freese at third should Carpenter not outright win the second base job. While Adams appears to be a potential impact hitter on the cusp of making a major impact in the big leagues, I don’t quite think it’s his time with St. Louis yet. It is difficult to let him waste his hitting talent, and burn his arbitration clock, on the bench while Craig gets the majority of at bats at first base. That leaves Cedeno. At this point, I feel like Daniel Descalso can handle spot duty at short if Kozma needs a break. If Kozma proves he can’t handle SS on a day to day basis then the answer isn’t going to be Cedeno. The Cards will have to make a trade for a more bona fide option at the position at that point. Obviously, having guys like Carpenter and Descalso on the roster provide the Cards with the flexibility to be able to carry a 13th pitcher, and that’s exactly what I think they should do by keeping Shelby Miller for the 5th starter spot and relegating hard throwing Joe Kelly into the long relief role. Kelly has proved his versatility, and moving him into the long relief role would bolster an already strong bullpen.

If you made it this far, I would love to hear what you would do if you had the chance to play GM for the Cards this spring. Would you keep the same guys I chose, or do you have a different view of this obviously fluid situation?


Tags: Adron Chambers Matt Adams Ronny Cedeno Shane Robinson Shelby Miller Ty Wigginton

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