Cardinals need to be patient with struggling lineup

By Stephen Nations

With the calendar turning to May and most every-day players having accumulated the 120 or so at-bats that they need in order to get comfortable and in a regular routine, we can finally start attaching some meaning to the performances we've seen from our Cardinals and the rest of the league in general.

Many are looking at the Cardinals and reaching the conclusion that the meaning of the numbers the birds have put up so far is that they can't hit. Not only can they not hit, but Matt Carpenter's MVP-caliber season was an outlier, Johnny Peralta is nothing more than inconsistent (despite his flashes of power), Allen Craig is completely lost at the plate, and the only thing that can save us is to call up 21-year-old outfield prospect Oscar Taveras. Outlets from ESPN to Bleacher Report to our own KSDK have been calling for Peter Bourjos' head and Oscar Taveras' bat.

Lets pump the brakes a little bit. This morning, even after a Cardinal victory in which the offense did its job, I woke up to nothing but headlines about how Oscar Taveras's time has come. The lineup needs a shot in the arm and this is the guy to provide it.


While Taveras is a rare talent, and likely a future super-star, rarely do we see Mike Trouts come straight from the minor leagues at 20 to be an offensive catalyst for his team.

Check that, never do we see it. There has never been another Mike Trout. We can compare his bat at 21 to some other guys (most of them first ballot hall-of-famers), but there has never been a guy who showed up at Trout's age with the kind of power/speed/contact ability that he has. You could make a case that Ken Griffey Jr. is a comp, but he never dreamed of being able to run, or draw walks the way Trout does. My point in all this is that Trout's historic season wasn't able to save his team, even in a lineup that featured some of the heaviest bats in the league. The Angels improved on their abysmal .333 winning percentage after he showed up, but they still finished five games out of a playoff spot.

To think that 21-year-old Taveras, the same Taveras that has repeatedly been on management's bad side with his questionable conditioning and sometimes apparent lack of desire, is not only ill-informed, but a slap in the face to the consummate professionals that the Cardinals employ that have grinded through 162 games and gone deep in to October in each of the past three seasons. Additionally, Cards GM John Mozeliak has said that at this point Taveras is "average at best in center field", which is telling considering how perpetually positive Mozeliak is when talking about anyone in the organization.

On top of all this, if the Cardinals can just be patient and wait until the Super Two date has passed in a month, it will save them millions-probably ten to fifteen of them-on the back end of Taveras's contract. If Taveras ends up being the type of player we all believe him to be in the big leagues, the one month that the Cards wait will delay his arbitration clock and give the team a full extra year of control. It is because of this that I believe even if Ted Williams were playing center field in Memphis right now, the Cards would still be waiting until June to recall him.

The urgency for a new bat in center field is a little bit unwarranted anyway; Jon Jay is quietly having a respectable campaign, carrying a .724 OPS thus far. Although nobody is ever scared when Jay steps to the plate, he can work an at bat, show some occasional pop, and play a decent centerfield.

The biggest issue with not scoring runs has been the team's lack of power. Everybody seems fine with Matt Adams production because they see a shiny batting average, but Adams job is not to hit .323 with some doubles and no speed. That's Matt Carpenter's job. Matt Adams job is to blast home runs in to the upper-deck when Carpenter and Peralta/Craig get on base in front of him. Adams has become so enamored with beating the shift and keeping his batting average up that he has sacrificed the bulk of his power. I may not be in the majority with this opinion, but I'd rather see Adams batting .270 with a home run or two every week than what he's doing now. Even with Carpenter off to a slow start, he has been worth about twice as many wins as Adams so far, a stat that very few seem to realize when evaluating who's to blame for the lack of runs.

Be patient Cardinal Nation. Things are turning around. I know were still having those rough days at the dish, but they are becoming less and less routine. In a month, when it has less of an effect on the future, we can go crazy for Oscar Taveras and anoint him the next Vlad Guerrero, but until then, stick behind your pennant winning lineup and let the proven players lead this team back to the top of the division.

Stephen Nations is an aspiring sports and Cardinals columnist. He will be contributing his commentary to during the 2014 season. You can follow him on twitter at



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