The St. Louis Cardinals roster is set up like a carefully rigged game of Jenga.
One person getting hurt won’t cause the entire tower to collapse, but if you remove one piece out of the tower there is no way the whole thing can remain standing.
Picture that one piece as Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
Molina was injured just before the All-Star break last year, and in the final part of July the team went 5-6 before a 16-13 record in the month of August.
On its own, this doesn’t suggest disaster. But are the Cardinals prepared for life if Molina goes down once again?
Last year, when Molina went on the disabled list, the team quickly signed A.J. Pierzynski and he was good enough to get the Cardinals through the remainder of the time Molina was away.
If it happens again, do the Cards fold?
I’m not trying to be Mr. Doomsday. Each team has a select number of players whose absence would spell disaster for the Cardinals. Molina is one of them. He’s getting up there in years, and any prolonged absence could spell problems for a St. Louis squad used to having Molina behind the plate.
Tony Cruz could be read to handle catching duties in the future, and there’s no doubt the club is grooming him to eventually take the reins.
Former Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver, when he spoke to CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney, suggested Molina’s absence made the catching spot “one of the toughest jobs to fill in baseball. You can’t replace a Yadier Molina.”
How true that is.