The St. Louis Cardinals have played a dangerous game this spring at first base and this writer believes it MUST come to a stop. Thankfully, the 2016 season opens on Sunday. Will the team continue the experiment into the season? Please, God, no.
The St. Louis Cardinals are known for their ability to take risks on players and have them pay off. This spring’s risk centered on first base and saw the likes of Brandon Moss, Matt Adams, and Matt Holliday make appearances.
Let’s start with Brandon Moss. I wanted to like the signing of Moss. Wanted to like it last season, and then last season happened. All of that aside, the Moss signing is completely consistent with Cardinals thinking: Moss was a reclamation risk and one that presented with high upside. Have we seen this? No.
Some say about Moss that this season will be an outbreak season. Before today’s game wherein Moss smashed a home run, I was ready to give up on the Moss experiment but am now questioning this thinking. Pushing today’s appearance aside, I feel that it is time to cut Moss loose or find someone else willing to take the risk. Moss, at his best this spring, was a Mendoza-line player.
Moss, at his best this spring, was a Mendoza-line player. In 47 at-bats, he produced only twelve hits, two home runs, and only eight RBI. This mediocre performance produced a slash line of .255/.300/.768. While Moss presents the possibility of power, his inconsistency just doesn’t have a place on this squad.
Moving to Adams, I’m not so sure things are much better. Having said that, Adams seems to have won the first base job over Moss (both left handed) with the probability of Holliday covering as the right-handed option. As they entered spring training, Moss and Adams were battling for their starting spot at first base and, of the two, Adams produced at a better-than-last-season rate.
In spring, Adams appeared at 48 at-bats (one more than Moss) in which he produced fourteen hits (two more than Moss), one home run (one fewer than Moss), and only five RBI (three fewer than Moss). The upside of Adams is his spring slash line (at least in comparison to Moss) which ended at .292/.340/.819.
But is there much of a difference? In my opinion, no. The shame is that there may not be another left-handed option for first base in the organization. Do the Cardinals need one? Perhaps not but let me come back to that later.
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Let’s look at Holliday’s defensive appearances at first base because we can and likely should ignore his offensive numbers since we know they will be there either at first or if he appears in the outfield. When at first this spring, Holliday showed that he can hold his own there and this is great for the team since this opens the door for Tommy Pham and/or Jeremy Hazelbaker to appear in the outfield.
Defensively, Holliday appeared at first base in eight games. In these games, he faced thirty-one chances for outs and produced twenty-eight put-outs in these chances. He also participated in four double plays. Ultimately, this amounted to a fielding percentage of 1.000. Definitely holding his own.
Let’s cut to the chase: I think it is time to put the Moss/Adams experiment to rest. While I wish there was more value to be gained from either or both of these players, the production is just too low to keep these players. Can the Cardinals gain anything in return? Perhaps. Should the team decide to move Adams/Moss, maybe this will be the time for Carpenter to move to first to provide the left-handed option
Should the team decide to move Adams/Moss, maybe this will be the time for Carpenter to move to first to provide the left-handed option there. This seems more-likely-than-not with the addition of Jedd Gyorko and Ruben Tejada (along with Jhonny Peralta) both of whom have made appearances at third base in their career as options to replace Carpenter at the hot corner.
Will the team make a move like this? Not likely. Should the team make a move like this? It seems at this point that, while it sounds like a good idea, may not actually be a good idea until we witness production or lack thereof in the regular season. But I, for one, would adore the idea of losing Moss and Adams!