By John Kern, from Cardsblog.com
What was promised to be a tight race for the third-baseman’s job on the Cardinals has turned into a blowout. After performing extremely well in Spring Training, Jhonny Peralta struggled out of the gate before being placed on the disabled list.
In that time, Jedd Gyorko has seized the moment, becoming arguably the Cardinals’ best hitter, while playing plus defense. So when Peralta returns, what do the Cardinals do?
Who should be demoted?
The first problem for the Cardinals will be who to demote. Magneuris Sierra, Tommy Pham, and Sam Tuivalala have all been called up to the majors following injuries to Peralta, Piscotty, and Martinez. All three have performed exceptionally, begging the question of if there is room on the roster for Peralta at all.
While Tuivalala will likely be the first player sent back to the minor leagues, Sierra has injected a new element into the Cardinals, and provided a spark both on the bases and in the field the last few days. Tommy Pham has flat-out hit since being recalled, with three home runs already. While Sierra is still young, Pham is already 29, and it would seem unfair to send him back to the minors.
So, when Peralta and Piscotty return, they will likely take the places of Tuivalala and Sierra. Martinez may not find a roster spot available for him, though, despite hitting well off the bench this season.
Jhonny Peralta: I'm ready.— Dan Buffa (@buffa82) May 11, 2017
Peralta: I'm. Ready. To. Come. Back.
Mozeliak: Ah, you're breaking up....#STLCards
Who should be moved?
Right now, Diaz and Gyorko and the Cardinals’ shortstops and third basemen, with Greg Garcia on the bench ready at all times. Is there a spot there for Peralta, or should the Cardinals accept their new infield and try finding a return from another team with a third base problem?
Should Peralta return and revert back to his 2015 form, the Cardinals will have some tough decisions to make. They already do. While Diaz has struggled this season, Peralta appears unable to return to playing everyday shortstop. Thus, he seems to only be available at third.
While Gyorko could move to second to replace Kolten Wong, that would go against the Cardinals’ offseason plan to upgrade their defense. Plus, Wong, although not hitting well consistently, has performed well at times this season.
A timeshare at third base is also not an option. Both Peralta and Gyorko are power-hitting righties, so this would make little sense.
Is trading Peralta the best option?
Right now, barring a collapse from Jedd Gyorko, the best option for the Cardinals is to trade Peralta. Hopefully the Cardinals can find some bullpen relief in return. The A’s are a team that could use a third base upgrade. Although Peralta may not carry much value, the Cardinals could get something for him, rather than unneeded infield depth that would only hurt both Peralta and Gyorko.
Too many major leaguers is a good problem to have, although it can lead to some tough decisions. Mozeliak and Matheny have some things to figure out in the coming days, other than simply delaying the inevitable. Peralta was a great shortstop in his time, but his contributions to the Cardinals may be coming to an end.
If you asked a Cardinals fan to pick their "shortstop of the future," they would undoubtedly say Delvin Perez. A first-round pick with seemingly limitless potential, this comes as no surprise. What most fans do not realize, however, is there is another possible answer. To me, that answer may be just as respectable.
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