St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Wieters vs Andrew Knizner for catcher
By Brett Ramsey
Assuming the St. Louis Cardinals continue playing in 2020, they might be without Yadier Molina for a little while. Who should start in his place?
In a 2020 season that was certain to be unpredictable, the St. Louis Cardinals have played just five games to date. Positive tests for the coronavirus have brought their season to a halt nearly as soon as it began. One of the positive tests belonged to catcher Yadier Molina.
Let’s first state that I hope everyone dealing with this virus around the world recover quickly and get better as soon as possible. It has changed society for everyone, and the baseball industry is no exception. The St. Louis Cardinals have been hit hard with this and hopefully they can slow the spread and return to the field soon.
When/if they do return to play, it might be without franchise icon Yadier Molina. In his place, the St. Louis Cardinals will have a choice. Do they turn to veteran Matt Wieters or turn to young catcher Andrew Knizner?
I don’t think the differences are very dramatic. Both players seem to be great options. The Cardinals re-signed Wieters to serve as Molina’s backup catcher, so it seems natural he’d be the guy in this situation. But Molina is aging and his contract is set to expire after the season. With that in mind, doesn’t it make sense to see if Knizner can be the heir apparent behind the dish?
The focus of this question is about who should replace Molina while he’s out this season, in 2020. Moving forward, Knizner would probably be the choice as he’s a well-regarded prospect and someone with some offensive potential who is capable of handling things behind the plate.
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For 2020, I think Matt Wieters makes the most sense. He’s proven to be a great asset who appears to connect well with the pitching staff, as well as someone who has been a great hitter in his career.
Last season his batting average was .214, but he slugged 11 home runs in limited duty. The fact that he’s a veteran player with a lot of experience and the potential to do damage with the long ball, especially on an offense that struggles to score runs, makes him a logical option.
Andrew Knizner hit .226 last season in limited time in the majors. He’s 25, which makes him a possibility to eventually replace Molina as the Cardinals starting catcher. But does that future begin now?
Regardless, it seems likely that either player would represent a dropoff from Yadier Molina. It would be a referendum on the team’s mindset, though. Do they want to turn to the proven player or give the prospect a longer look to determine his future role with the team?
Knizner has not had much of look yet at the major league level, so it’s hard to speculate how he would produce as the everyday catcher. In the minors, he always hit for a high batting average, at better than .300. Last season between the minors and majors he hit .276, which would be more than acceptable. The question with all prospects is whether minor league production can translate to production at the major league level.
Wieters has always been a highly regarded catcher and a great offensive player. He’s not going to help much in the batting average department but as mentioned earlier, his proven power could be a spark to an offense that needs one.
All in all, it is a hard choice but I would lean strongly toward Matt Wieters. What do you think?
Hopefully Molina, and the other players, are all able to return very soon. If games are postponed for too much longer, Molina and the others will hopefully be cleared to return to action. In the event that the St. Louis Cardinals are able to return to the field soon, they might be a different looking team. Whether it is Wieters or Knizner behind the plate when that happens remains to be seen.