Brandon Moss 1B/LF
This is absolutely conditional on Adams beating him out fro the starting job, but I think that is what is going to happen. Moss will be a valuable commodity off of the bench who should probably gather around 300 AB. He may even find himself hitting against more lefties than not in place of Adams.
Moss has said that the power should be back now that his hip is finally healed. So, expecting 15-20 homers from Moss in a backup situation isn’t out of this world. If there is an injury to one of the OF, Moss will see his playing time increase as he will then become the first option off of the bench in the outfield.
Tommy Pham OF
Tommy Pham finally got his chance last season with the Cardinals, as he got the call twice last season, and played in a total of 52 games in relief of Jon Jay and Randal Grichuk (should have had more). Pham finished the season hitting .268/.347/.477, with 19 extra base-hits (11 doubles, five homers, three triples). Pham even had a home run in the playoffs off of the bench.
Pham will be the perfect fourth OF. He can play all three positions and has a nice blend of power and speed, making him not only a great pinch hitting option late in the game, but also a pinch run/defensive replacement option as well. While he may not have the raw power of Grichuk or the contact ability of Piscotty, he is an excellent option off of the bench, and can handle things if any of the OF get injured.
Call to the Pen
Jedd Gyorko 2B/SS
Here we have our first infield catalyst off of the bench. Gyorko was acquired in November for fan favorite Jon Jay. Gyorko is going to be the right-handed compliment for Kolten Wong, with a tad more pop. Much like Pham Gyorko doesn’t have the contact of the guy in front of him, but the pop and versatility in the infield will be well used in his spot.
Gyorko is going to need to elevate his contact rate in order to keep the two guys behind him on the bench behind him. If he can provide contact at a rate around .250-.260, he may keep his spot, but if not the higher average and OBP of the other two may indeed push him down to Memphis. Regardless his impact is going to be best seen against lefties, so don’t be surprised if he sees the most time against them.
If he can provide some value off of the bench and give Peralta and Wong a rest he will give Mike Matheny something he hasn’t had — a good offensive middle infield option.
Greg Garcia 2B/SS/3B
Garcia has been on the Memphis-St. Louis shuttle for quite some time and has really not gotten his shot to stay with the team, despite being better offensively than both Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso. Garcia can provide good value as a decent defensive option at three positions (second, short, and third). Garcia provides a really good on base ability that Gyorko really cannot provide.
However, Garcia does not have the pop that Gyorko has. He has displayed a small amount in his career with 10 homers and 20 doubles in 2013 for Memphis, and a few homers in his career at the big league level, but expecting more than that as a backup is asking for too much. Defensively, Garcia is a little more limited at third and short, and is much better at second. This makes the next player here all the more likely.
If the Cardinals do decided to go to 11 pitchers and 14 hitters, Garcia should make the roster as a backup to Peralta and Wong.
Aledmys Diaz – SS/3B/2B
I have been saying this since the end of the season last season. I even wanted Diaz to get the call up in September, when rosters expanded. However, Diaz was kept in Memphis and continued to improve.
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In his last 224 plate appearances, Diaz hit .350/.408/.635 with 32 extra base-hits (19 doubles, 12 homers, one triple) and a wRC+ of 181. That is in 54 games with Springfield, Memphis, and the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League.
Diaz adds the perfect combination of Gyorko and Garcia. He has the power of Gyorko, while having the defensive versatility of Garcia, being able to play all three positions. Diaz plays a much better shortstop than the other two (not saying much), and has a much better offensive potential.
There was the thought that Diaz could have been major league ready when he was signed, and most assumed he wouldn’t spend long in the minors. Diaz struggled to get used to the minors and couldn’t find his game until the second half last year. This has definitely elevated his status on the depth chart and also elevated the organization’s opinion on players from Cuba.
There could be a lot of changes to this prediction once games start. That is why I am getting this out there before those games do start. I know injuries may happen at any moment, and they can change the makeup of the roster in an instant. That’s why these are just my early predictions. I will revisit them once we get closer to the season and will see where we are and if anyone is surprising us.
This is just the beginning folks. This is just one man’s opinion. In the coming days, we will have more predictions up. We may even have some minor league roster predictions up, as we are committed to a continued effort to have all of the coverage of Cardinals’ baseball for you.
If you feel that I messed up or left someone out. Let me know in the comments and we can talk about why I made the decisions I made. Have a great day Cardinal Nation!