St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Adams is Still Trade Bait
St. Louis Cardinals’ First baseman Matt Adams is having himself his best week since he hit a home run off a certain Dodgers pitcher.
Coming into the St. Louis Cardinals’ series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers, he had 10 hits in his last 25 plate appearances, hitting .456 with 5 doubles, 2 HRs, and 8 RBIs. But make no mistake: Matt Adams should still be viewed as a trade piece, first and foremost.
Make no mistake, that’s a stat line any hitter would kill to have for a week. There’s no denying that Adams is swinging a hot bat (uncharacteristically hot, in fact), and it’s easy to call him a permanent starter and mainstay of the team due to recency bias; we’re all guilty of saying such things at some point or another about some player.
I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have a bias against Matt Adams; I’ve never thought he was worthy of a starting spot on a squad that has always has better options. I’ve always thought that he’s one of “Matheny’s guys”: ever since his Kershaw home run, he’s been given far too much credit for a guy that, in most at-bats, looks completely unable to even keep up with Major League pitching.
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I’m also not an idiot. I’m not advocating for Adams to be taken out of the lineup while he’s scorching hot, or any such nonsense. Instead, it’s important to keep in mind that A) Adams’ success is not sustainable and will not be sustained, and B) he should be considered a possible trade piece when the deadline rolls around.
Keep in mind that I don’t know if Adams will actually be traded. It’s entirely possible that he stays around, but I’m here to make the case that’s there’s far more reasons he should be.
The Cardinals have plenty of 1B options.
“It’s not that hard, Scott. Tell ’em, Wash.” “It’s incredibly hard.”
Despite Moneyball‘s famous quote, first base is not a particularly tough position to play. It’s not shortstop, it’s not catcher, it’s not center field. This means it’s the easiest position in which to slot a guy in. The Cards just so happen to have a surplus of players that have either started at 1B or have the ability to:
Brandon Moss, Matt Holliday, Stephen Piscotty, and more recently, Matt Carpenter.
The question of “why are any of these better options than Adams?” has a simple, two-part answers: they’re more consistent hitters than Adams, and they free up a position for another solid hitter to slot in.
In Holliday and Moss’ cases, Tommy Pham, Jeremy Hazelbaker or another OF could play left, and same with Piscotty. Playing Carpenter at first could free up the infield logjam a tad, allowing Jhonny Peralta to slot into 3B while Aledmys Diaz and Greg Garcia still get starts at shortstop and second base.
In short, Adams, while a solid 1st baseman, is preventing other, more consistent solid hitters from getting starts they would get under different circumstances.
Improved performance means improved trade value.
This one’s pretty simple, but it’s a bit of a catch-22: while Adams’ hot bat guarantees him more playing time, it also drives up his potential value as a trade piece.
Coming into this season, it’s safe to say that Adams had little to no value as a trade piece, which was part of his problem: he wasn’t a good enough bat to start, but he wasn’t good enough to be traded for any significant pieces.
Now, he’s run into both, but with one key fold – the Cardinals have a surplus of offense and not enough solid pitching. That ties into our last point:
The Cardinals have a surplus of hitters, and not enough pitchers.
As Adams continues to swing a hot bat, he continues to drive up his price and value to other teams, and could potentially be swapped for a solid reliever or two, or even a starter if warranted.
Next: A Letter to the Spoiled Fans
It’s well known that the primary issue on this 2016 St. Louis Cardinals’ squad is pitching, whether it be of the starting or relieving variety; with so many quality options for 1B and not so much on the pitching side, it’s worth thinking about.