The prospect that is reaching critical hype levels across all of Cardinals Nation, Oscar Taveras, recently sat down with the 2014 Rookie Development Program to discuss his current situation in a video posted to mlb.com. Please take a minute to digest everything he says for yourself.
First thing first, his ankle appears to be 100%, and that’s great news. If he is going to have any shot of breaking on to the defending National League Champion roster he is going to have to be fully healthy and ready to contribute. The biggest problem the Cardinals are going to encounter with Taveras is finding him playing time because anyone that’s been paying attention knows that GM John Mozeliak has been busy this off season acquiring OF talent.
As it stands, the Cards currently have Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay, Shane Robinson, and Allen Craig all available for OF duty. So, where are Taveras’ innings going to come from with this much depth? The signs certainly point to Taveras manning a 4th OF role when he finally reaches the majors. His comments in the video with regards to getting more time in CF last season pretty much assure that will be the case because it’s highly unlikely he will defend CF well enough to usurp the position from Bourjos on an every day basis. Perhaps someday, but not in 2014, at least not early on anyway.
Where it all gets interesting is when you factor in Robinson and Jay. I had the opportunity to attend the Cards Caravan in Champaign, IL with my daughter and Robinson was asked point blank by a fan if he felt the squeeze. John Mabry took the mic at that point and gave an answer along the lines of the following: “Well, the thing is last Spring Training we looked around and there were only 4 bodies in the outfield and Shane started complaining about getting too much work. So, I took that information to Mo and he decided to sign as many guys as he could to help Shane out.” Then he went on to answer the question seriously with somewhat of a stock answer that still carries a ton of weight in this situation. “Competition breeds success.” I’m totally paraphrasing here, mainly because I had a 4 year old asking me where Fredbird was, but the gist of his response was that every player is aware of how many bodies there are and they are going to have to bring their A game at all times if they want to make this crowded roster.
Where Taveras fits in is anybody’s guess, but at this point I am going to guess that he starts in AAA until June just to delay his arbitration clock a little longer. If he impresses in Spring and then hits in AAA, and I’m pretty sure he will, then he should make an appearance this season around that June time frame. Cards fans are ready for his debut. Here’s hoping Taveras is too.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.