St. Louis Cardinals: Carson Kelly’s stock value continues to drop

MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 30: Carson Kelly #19 of the St. Louis Cardinals bunts during the fifth inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on May 30, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 30: Carson Kelly #19 of the St. Louis Cardinals bunts during the fifth inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on May 30, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

A player’s stock value can rise and drop just as shares are sold on the real market. Anyone who bought shares in the heir apparent behind the plate for the St. Louis Cardinals is surely stressed watching the value drop.

The St. Louis Cardinals were sure they had found the solution to Yadier Molina behind the plate for when the time comes for him to step aside. This solution was in the young Carson Kelly. He came with much promise but, of late, that promise is fading into smoke.

I advocated during the offseason of 2017 that the St. Louis Cardinals would have been very wise to trade Kelly at that time. His value was up, his promise was still intact, and it appeared that the Cards had no real intention of moving him northward anytime soon, especially in light of the extension they handed to Yadi.

While Kelly has made his appearance wearing the birds on the bat this season, things didn’t go as planned. In fact, his spring didn’t go as Kelly nor the Cardinals had hoped. This one-time .417 hitter in 2016, had watched his 2017 Spring Training numbers dive to .182 and continue to drop to an even .100 through 30 at-bats this past spring.

His numbers this spring were so poor that he didn’t break camp with the St. Louis Cardinals. He remained in the minors until May 8 of this season when he first broke into the lineup for the Cardinals. This didn’t last a month and didn’t have him seeing much action as the now-backup Francisco Pena had stolen the show from Kelly.

The organization used the tagline that Kelly was being left in the minors to get regular playing time but that was quickly becoming eclipsed by the young Andrew Knitzner.

Now, on the 9th of June, Kelly has been back with the Memphis Redbirds since June 4. This is thanks in large part to his miserable MLB batting line. In 2018, in 25 at-bats, Kelly is carrying a slash line of .080/.148/.080. Ouch.

Now that I’ve listed that, I must let you know that his MLB numbers by and large are not good. He has three years of slash lines and none of them have batting averages topping .200, and none of them have slugging numbers worthy of any takers. So, before I go forward, let me say that while I felt that Kelly’s value was higher at one point, I see the errors of my ways already.

All of that said, his performance this year in Memphis has done nothing to help raise any value that might have existed in his “promise.” Through 89 at-bats in Memphis, Kelly is slashing .258/.333/.382. That’s right, just .008 points above the dreaded Mendoza Line.

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Here’s the skinny, the St. Louis Cardinals- at this time- are carrying dead weight in the form of Carson Kelly. Luckily, this flab hurts less in Memphis than it would elsewhere save for the fact that when Kelly appears in the lineup he is taking up a spot that could be filled by Steven Baron (or Knitzner who is currently with Springfield).

Kelly is under team control until 2024 so I don’t see them doing much with him other than hoping he finds his way with the bat so that his value will rise. By the way, he is worth a miserable -0.4 WAR in 2018.

As I write this piece tonight (Saturday, June 9), I am watching Kelly in person in Memphis. Let me tell you personally that he does a very nice job behind the plate calling a game and was even the catcher of record during Alex Reyes‘ final rehab start (that game was a thing of HOF material). That said, he looks lost at the plate with a bat in his hand.

Tonight, I have watched him go 1-for-3 with a double and two weakly hit balls. This is eerily similar to the offensive prowess of one Randal Grichuk: all or nothing.

One positive in Kelly’s favor is that he doesn’t often strikeout. He has recorded only 15 Ks in his 89 at-bats in Memphis and only six Ks in the 25 at-bats he had this season in the majors. So the problem is less with his plate vision and more with the pitches he choose to swing at.

In other words, Kelly, if he keeps working, can once again return to a piece of value but he needs to work.

Next: Remembering Red

Since Mark Budaska is by far a better hitting coach than John Mabry, I am overjoyed for Kelly that he is spending his time in Memphis over time spent in purgatory with the St. Louis Cardinals.