Why I wouldn't be mad if Paul DeJong makes the Cardinals' Opening Day Roster
Paul DeJong making the Cardinals' Opening Day roster may not be a bad thing
I'm not pro-Paul DeJong. I am pro-young players getting the proper amount of playing time.
That's why I am not all that concerned if DeJong makes the Cardinals' Opening Day roster out of Spring Training this year. DeJong's role with the club will be minor at best, something that the Cardinals can afford to give to him.
What do I mean by this? Well, the Cardinals already have ten or eleven guys on their projected Opening Day roster who need and deserve consistent playing time. To be honest, it's going to get a little bit difficult to balance all of their at-bats anyways, let alone a twelfth player added to the mix. That actually plays in the favor of DeJong's spot on the roster more than you would think.
Let's assume Jordan Walker and Juan Yepez make the roster alongside the Cardinals' other ten best players, including their three outfielders from last year and the second base duo of Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan. Who does that leave DeJong to compete with for a roster spot?
The likely candidates would be Alec Burleson or Moises Gomez. Here's the issue though. If either of those guys makes the Opening Day roster, they will be the 13th position player on the roster when it comes to playing time, and maybe not even play more than one or two games a week. That's not what either player needs right now in this stage of their development. Are they both better than DeJong? Yes. But if someone has to ride the bench, I'd rather have it be DeJong.
Some may ask," but what about Masyn Winn"? Same issue. As long as Edman, Gorman, and Donovan are healthy, playing time would be limited at best for Winn in St. Louis. He's been electric this spring and sped up his timeline, but I'd rather him start every day at shortstop in Triple-A Memphis until the opportunity for consistent playing time is ready.
An argument could be made for Taylor Motter or Kramer Robertson to fill that role, but I see why St. Louis would rather let DeJong fill that role, for now.
Even if Paul DeJong is on the roster, the Cardinals' will not need him to play
Remember, making the Opening Day roster does not mean DeJong would play much, and it also doesn't mean he will remain on the roster for long.
If the Cardinals' don't believe in DeJong, they can easily just play him about once a week to get Edman off his legs. If they want to even avoid that, Donovan could fill in at shortstop and Gorman can take over at second on days Edman needs off. DeJong would be available in a pinch for the Cardinals, but otherwise, ride the bench.
Here's the point again. The Cardinals already have too many mouths to feed on their roster when it comes to position players. Sure, they could allow a guy like Burleson, Gomez, or Winn to sit on the bench and almost never play, or they can let DeJong do that. When it comes to the long-term development of those players, this makes a lot more sense for the club.
DeJong is working through an injury right now, so maybe Motter or Robertson do make the roster over him. If the club is comfortable with one of those guys riding the bench and filling in on rare occasions over DeJong, then I am all for it. But don't get upset if he makes the roster as the thirteenth player over one of the Cardinals' top prospects. When playing time is limited, guys may have to play in Memphis instead.
This is a great problem to have, Cardinals fans. And I have a feeling that no matter what happens on Opening Day, DeJong's days on the Cardinals' roster are numbered, and won't last past the midway point of the season.