United Cardinal Bloggers Roundtable: The Future of Matt Adams

It’s the postseason and the United Cardinal Bloggers are back in action for the postseason roundtable.
Feb 29 2012, Jupiter, FL, USA: St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (87) during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium. Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Today’s question: Between Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter’s ability to play first base, does Matt Adams end up seeing himself as trade bait during the offseason and up to the trading deadline at the end of July?

At one point, he was considered the first baseman of the future.

My own thoughts: I think it is a very likely possibility that Adams finds himself traded between now and the trading deadline next season. Whether it is for pitching or a short stop, I don’t know.

Daniel Shoptaw: It seems pretty clear that Matt Adams is going to be one of John Mozeliak’s biggest trading chips and I expect it to happen in the offseason.

As Daniel points out in the question, first base is fairly well covered and the outfield even more so if Oscar Taveras is ready for his close-up. Adams needs to play regularly, but he’s proven about all he can at Memphis.

What the trade will be, I don’t know. It would seem underwhelming to trade him for a middle infield stopgap, but I don’t know what else Mo will be looking for.

Tom Knuppel: I expect Adams to get traded. Too many already on the roster ahead of him. I don’t think he is our biggest trading chip but certainly one that can help move a trade along.

Wes Keene: There just isn’t a lot of need for Matt Adams in the bigs with this club. There is enough depth at the position that our resources could be better utilized elsewhere. The main problems for Matt are two-fold: 1) He needs to be a daily player, not a bench guy. 2) Allen Craig. Other than the occasional day off, it’s nearly impossible to justify sitting Allen Craig.

As for Matt’s future? Yes, it’s probably with a different club. The question is what will Mo try to get in exchange for him. That isn’t the subject of today’s question, but I think it’s safe to say Matt goes sooner rather than later.

Dathan Brooks: Agreed. Trade bait. Hard to imagine a different scenario that doesn’t involve injuries of some sort.

Spencer Hendricks: If Matt Adams is the biggest trade chip and all the team gets in return for him is a middle infield stopgap, that’s a pretty sad state for the organization. I agree he appears blocked at the moment, but if he can hit as well as some suspect, shouldn’t Allen Craig be the one who goes since he’s more versatile and several years older? He would be the one that fetches more in a trade, I would think.

Since the team doesn’t appear to have any overwhelming holes, I see no problem with waiting to trade Adams for now, and give him a chance to see if he can produce in the majors. If so, either don’t trade him or make sure the return is impressive and fits an area of genuine need for the team. You can’t just trade away a good hitter for nothing because he’s blocked.

Bill Ivie: Adams trade value is high right now and a good time to move him, but honestly, I would like to see Mo evaluate what to do.

The fact is, you have Adams, Craig and Carpenter capable of playing first. Who brings the best return? What exactly do you want to get back? Which player instills the most faith?

One of those three will not be with the team by Spring Training, but saying it is definitely the minor leaguer may be a bit of an assumption.

Corey Noles: I may be the only one, but I would hate to see Matt Adams go, however I fully expect that he will. The kid has a lot of potential and a massive bat that would be a real shame to see play elsewhere. With that said, I’m not sure where they would put him. With 1B as his only position, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for the team. They seem to have a lot of faith in Craig over the long-term and a move like that would mean putting a lot of long-term faith in Craig and his ability to be a 30+ HR and 100+ RBI guy. I think he’s capable of that, but I hate to lose the cushion of having Adams waiting in the wings given his ability. Carpenter is OK as a stop gap player at first, but no one projects him to have 1B type offensive power. I think Carpenter has a big future, just not at first base if Craig has problems – which is a possibility. I know the knee injury was a fluke,m but those types of injuries have a tendency to follow players.

In the end, sadly I think you’re correct about Adams that he goes elsewhere during the off season because he’s hit his ceiling in the minor leagues. The question is what would they bring in for him? Like Daniel said, a middle infielder, unless its a serious impact middle-infielder, would seem like a waste for a player of his caliber.

Mary Clausen: Hi there! I think Adams will be traded as well. He’s a good bargaining chip. It’s hard to speculate what Mo will use him toward. We need some infield help, but don’t see a lot available.

I am a big fan of AC (Craig) and Carp2 (M Carpenter). They have proved to us their worth defensively and offensively. We’re set.

It’s kinda a bummer for Adams Cardinal future. Can he play any other infield? i.e., ss, 2nd.

Spencer Hendricks: Hahaha. That would be a great solution Mary, but the idea of Adams manning shortstop or even second base is so funny that I really hope it happens as some kind of comical joke if nothing else. Seriously, look at that guy. He’s not playing middle infield.

Dennis Lawson: Considering the likely need for a legitimate SS with the ability to actually move his own shadow, a trade that sends Allen Craig instead of Matt Adams works just fine for me. Love Craig’s hitting ability, but 44, 75, and 119 games over the past 3 seasons tells me he might be better served in the AL.

Three-way deal between the Rays (who have pitching and need a 1B/DH), Texas (who has Elvis Andrus and needs pitching) and St Louis makes sense. Adams hasn’t shown that he can hang with Craig as a hitter, but few can. He does rate decently as a natural 1B, and he can scoop the ball pretty well. Considering Craig has the lateral range of a falling brick and the propensity of the other infielders to short arm throws to 1B, I’ll take Adams and an upgrade at SS over Craig.

Matt Carpenter needs more playing time, but it shouldn’t be at 1B. Honestly, he can’t be worse defensively than what we’ve seen recently at 2B.

Spencer Hendricks: Well said, Dennis. Sorry to clog up the roundtable with useless comments, but Dennis just echoed my sentiments exactly. And it’s a shame, too, because I love Allen Craig.

Chris Mallonee: With the middle infield roster question marks, lack of a true 4th OF with any pop, and injury prone players, my prediction is Mo holds tight until at least the trade deadline. That has been his pattern and not necessarily an unwise move.

I don’t think he moves Adams before spring training unless they get serious negative news about Furcal.

I believe there would be plenty of ABs for Adams as Craig spells Beltran and Holliday in corner OF, where he has admitted feeling more comfortable.

Lord knows we could use a LH bat with some pop off the bench and platooning. While a great prospect, Adams has not proven he “deserves” everyday playing time yet, so maybe he follows a trajectory similar to Craig for everyday playing time with cards or another club.

I would rather see Mo let him battle for playing time in spring training, get some key ABs early in the season, then move him if it makes sense, as real needs arise during the year and health questions get clarity.

Mo handcuffs the club a bit if he moves him during off season for middle infielder and we don’t create any OF depth or needed pop off the bench. I say wait on trading him.

So to answer the specific question, yes I think he is trade bait but don’t think he will be moved this off season.

Bob Netherton: That’s right. Matt Adams was drafted as a catcher and was moved to first base to keep his bat in the lineup. Steven Hill has undergone something of a similar transition, including spending some time at third base. It is hard to believe, but Allen Craig was originally drafted as a shortstop.

Matt Adams is the big trade chip and the Cardinals front office knows that, and so do other teams. Adams has three things going for him that might keep him in the organization for another year.

1. Carlos Beltran (my answer for the last roundtable question). If Beltran goes down for an extended period of time, Allen Craig could play right field and Matt Adams could get the call to play first base. I don’t think Oscar Taveras is the first call that Mo makes in this scenario.

2. Adams is a left handed hitter. The Cardinals used to be a more balanced lineup, but are basically right hand dominant right now. Adding him between Holliday and Freese or Molina (as an example) gives the Cards a pretty serious R-L-R sequence in the heart of the batting order.

3. Bud Selig is not gone yet. The expansion of interleague play could eventually lead to the DH adoption in the National League. If that happens, you might want Adams bat in the lineup down the road.

I’m with Bill in that it might not be the minor league guy that gets dealt. It could be David Freese with Matt Carpenter taking over at third base. Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, Skip Schumaker and Mitchell Boggs will all be shopped. Fortunately for the Cardinals, there is no urgency which means the front office can take their time and find the best return (which could be a three way deal). Some combination involving Matt Adams to acquire a player like Elvis Andrus could be a big win.

Dennis Lawson: I’m in favor of a rule that requires Matt Adams to play SS whenever Skip Schumaker pitches. There can be no other options.

Dustin McClure: I’d like to offer a couple things from the Cardinals not so distant past to help support my thoughts on this subject. Going into last season it was thought by most that the Cardinals were in really good shape as far as pitching was concerned. To keep it short Chris Carpenter goes down in the Spring for most of the season and Shelby Miller had some difficulty making adjustments at the AAA level and Lance Lynn started to show signs of mediocrity at the break. At the deadline there were some, not all but some who thought the Cardinals should look to possibly move the once untouchable Shelby Miller for whatever they could get and/or look to bring in a starting pitcher (James Shields was a popular name). Then Shelby started getting it together, Carp came back and we saw the continued emergence of Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal introduced us to his 100 mph heat. Now all is well again.

Take Matt Adams for example this same time last year. All he’s done is crush baseballs but was blocked by one Albert Pujols. After Albert headed west it was only a matter of time until Adams took over. Then Matt Carpenter made his mark this season and Allen Craig continued to hit but had continued mobility issues that kept him at 1st. Now all of a sudden he’s blocked again forever and we need to trade him before he self destructs!!

Some of the answers that have come in have been pretty much in line with what I’m thinking. The organization has a trade value in mind for not only Matt Adams but most of the roster. Not many would be considered ‘untouchable’. The Elvis Andrus topic is also relevant here as well. The Rangers have a value for him but have no immediate need to move him regardless of what Profar does. Dennis had a good scenario that could involve 3 teams. Texas needs pitching , Tampa needs offense and the Cardinals need a shortstop. That doesn’t mean that Tampa wants Adams. It could be Craig, Matt Carpenter, etc. Point is they have to decide what’s best for the team, Allen Craig at 1st with a combination of Furcal, Kozma, a 2nd tier replacement or free agent like Stephen Drew or Matt Adams with Elvis Andrus etc. Plenty of scenarios to talk about but there’s absolutely no need to dump Matt Adams just because he’s seemingly blocked. Depth is good and there’s plenty of other teams that would love to have this problem. Also keep in mind Adams had bone chips or whatever removed from his elbow and missed the last couple months of the season. That certainly doesn’t help his value at this time.

Mark Tomasik: Yes, Matt Adams is the perfect trade chip for the Cardinals. He could help a team lacking the first-base depth of the Cardinals and has enough value to help in a package that could bring a good return.

Christine Coleman: Who’s to say that Matt Adams might not be needed on the Cardinals next season? Injuries are always an uncertainty – we all just answered a question about that. So I don’t know that he’s necessarily trade bait at all. I think that Mike Matheny can find him plenty of playing time, depending on what happens during spring training and the first half of the season – or even how he performs during spring training. I had the chance to see him here in the Quad Cities all throughout 2010. He can hit, and his fielding has improved much (especially since he was used as a DH much of the time here).

Bob Netherton: Yes, it has. Quite a bit, in fact. For a big guy, he has pretty quick first move instincts that serve him well. While he didn’t necessarily look like a future Gold Glove winner, he held his own quite nicely in the PCL last season until that ball whacked him on the elbow (ouch).

Matt Adams is a TLR/Earl Weaver kind of player, and the direction the team seems to be moving (Beltran as an example) suggests that they are looking at tools other than “hit for power”. I just can’t see a Cardinals lineup (other than with the DH) having room for Holliday, Craig and Adams in the long term. I do believe the injury risk to Holliday, Beltran and Craig might keep Adams in the system for another year, modulo what offers the team receivers over the winter, but perhaps not once we’ve entered the Taveras era.

Chris Reed: I think they hang on to Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter and trade Matt Adams, though I’m not sure it happens this offseason. Adams has not proven much at the big league level. Potential is nice, but that’s what we all thought about Brett Wallace too. The Cardinals got lucky and were able to move him for something of significance; will they find another team willing to bet on potential and send the Cards exactly what they need to get to the next level? I think they try to find him some more MLB exposure. Maybe he’s a better fit for a mid-season deal.

Brian Vaughan: Adams is definitely the most impressive trade bait the Cardinals have assuming they aren’t willing to part with Miller or Tavares at this point (they’re obviously not) and that Allen Craig isn’t in the picture. I think Adams’s name will come up in talks, but it’s hard for me to think anything gets done. Why give up a guy with so much mashing potential for less than he could be worth when the return likely wouldn’t be better than what could be had cheaply on the free agent market?

I say this because I don’t think the Cardinals can come up with a package to get Elvis Andrus as many have suggested. To get Andrus, who has already established himself as a 4+ WAR player thanks to outstanding defense and an emerging bat, Mozeliak would have to put together quite a massive package. Massive package? Terrible choice of words, but I’m leaving it. And if you can’t get someone on Andrus’ plane, why deal Adams?

I love Allen Craig to death and he’s honestly one of my personal favorite players on the team, but I’ll echo Spencer and Dennis in saying he’s the man who ought to go if someone does. His age and eventual cost are the prime reasons why, and he probably holds more value right now. I don’t think any key pieces get dealt, because I don’t think there’s much available in terms of middle infield depth. Plus, we’re Cardinal fans; we know half the team will be hurt by May and both Adams and Craig will be giant necessities.

Bob Netherton: Two words. Brett Wallace 🙂

The trick is not to fall in love with the ceiling. I’m as big a Matt Adams fan as exists on the planet, but there is something to be said for being there and producing in the moment. Allen Craig has that in his resume as a historical fact. It doesn’t mean he will do it again, but at least he has done it before. Matt Adams has the potential to be a star, but in a position where the Cardinals have depth. I’d rather see that star power be used to fill in some gaps in the farm system, just as Brett Wallace produced something the system didn’t have in 2009 – a high average masher in the outfield. In many respects, this is the 2008/9 off season all over again.

As Dennis suggested, it might take another team in the mix to get something like this done, although the Rangers have to view a guy like Matt Adams as serious upgrade over Mitch Moreland. Plus they have the benefit of the DH and depth at shortstop (and they are extremely excited over that depth).

I do agree that the injury threat might keep Adams in the system for a while longer, but should a deal, such as Andrus, come along, it could be a winner for both clubs.