Jhonny Peralta hasn't driven in a runner since September 27, 2016. During the time since, he has collected one extra base hit: a double in late September. Peralta's value has shrunk to the size of a walnut over the past two seasons; a span of time that has seen the player's health and overall ability tumble to solid to pitiful.
Peralta is the only person in baseball with at least 50 plate appearances and zero RBI. His .204 batting average is depressing.
It's nothing personal, but Peralta had to go. Like Matt Adams and Jonathan Broxton, his spot on the roster of a team in rapid transition had become too vital. When a player goes 54 at bats without an extra base hit and doesn't do anything else particularly well, the exit time arrives sooner than one expected.
However, this was exactly how it was supposed to go for Peralta in St. Louis. General Manager John Mozeliak signed Peralta to a four year deal in November, 2013 to be a stopgap for younger players in the system or until a more preferable long term option arose from the system or came in via trade.
Aledmys Diaz's breakout season in 2016 coupled with Peralta's hand injury sped the process up, but Peralta's crippled power in 2015 was the first sign of a downfall. After a robust 2014 season where his WAR (wins above replacement) climbed above 6.0 and his defense was better than expected, Peralta's durability hit a brick wall the following year, and his production dropped.
Don't get me wrong, 17 home runs and a 103 OPS+ isn't terrible, but the steep decline was a warning sign. This season, Peralta came out of the gate looking slower and carrying a swing at the plate that was a guaranteed strikeout. An allergic reaction was the cause given to fans, but the root of the problem was more clear: Peralta's value had reached an all time low.
Since his return, he has collected eight singles in 28 at bats, which is great if you are a non-roster invitee that struggled to make the team out of Jupiter, but found a way to earn a spot the hard way. It's not good for a veteran making ten million dollars.
The return of Kolten Wong today should spell the end of Peralta's time in St. Louis, because there is simply no room on the infield for dead weight. When Paul DeJong showed up and his first two hits went for extra bases, Peralta's time was immediately numbered. Jedd Gyorko isn't surrendering any at bats soon with his team leading bat, and Matt Carpenter holds a substantial advantage over Peralta in the value department.
For a team getting younger slowly but surely, Jhonny Peralta's time had run out.
That doesn't mean the good times will be forgotten. The first thing that came to my mind with Peralta was July 8, 2015. The Cards were losing to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and a late two run home run from Peralta flipped the game on its head, and brought the Cards a win. Peralta's OPS was .815 after that game, and he was hitting .292. After the All Star Break that season, Peralta wouldn't be the same.
Perhaps it was the endless amount of action the player saw in the field, or maybe the performance enhancing drugs that he admitted to taking had worn off. Whatever the case was, he simply doesn't have it anymore.
The return for Peralta could have been a low end prospect, but for the time being it will be a plate full of Benjamin Franklin bills. It doesn't matter. The Cards are making this move to open up a roster spot, and slowly but surely trim the extra fat off the roster.
Adams. Broxton. Peralta. The hits keep on coming, and it's a good thing. If there is one thing this turbulent season has brought Cardinals fans, it is that a handful of small changes will eventually turn into a different looking roster.
The Jhonny Peralta era in St. Louis is closing, which means the Cards have less excuses to stink on a baseball field. Get to work, Redbirds. It's not too late....yet.
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