I first heard of Adron Chambers last year in reference to his speed. After some research, I found him to be one of the more intriguing prospects quietly percolating in the minor leagues. The 24 year old outfielder has consistently hit around .280 throughout four seasons in the system. And he’s fast, probably the fastest player in the Cardinals farm system since the fabled Vince Coleman was promoted. His possibilities are limitless with the proper work ethic.
Chambers has responded to that with an impressive spring that has Tony LaRussa praising his “coachability” and others remarking on his tools. It’s clear that Chambers has enhanced his plus skills (speed, contact) by molding his overall game. Chambers, a later convert to baseball from an aborted football career, has been carefully learning how to work counts and make contact in crucial situations.
Could Chambers see time at the big league level this year? Joe Strauss thinks he will. And I think Chambers is just the kind of offensive sparkplug that this team really needs. Like Coleman’s debut in 1985, the mixture of youthful enthusiasm, situational hitting, and blinding speed Chambers potentially brings can energize an entire lineup. We have not seen this type of player or lineup configuration in any of LaRussa’s years here; he prefers to have big boppers and scrappy nuisances. Chambers represents an element that I believe LaRussa has overlooked far too often.
Plus, it would solve those pesky “Racist Redbirds” comments from people noting the lack of black people on the team.
Given the painful joints throughout Lance Berkman’s aging body, we’re almost assured that someone will be required to step into his position at some point this season. Could it be Chambers? Will LaRussa take a leap of faith on a youngster the way Whitey Herzog did with Coleman? Choices like this could define – or destroy – the 2011 season. Let’s hope they make the right decision when it counts.