When the St. Louis Cardinals re-signed Yadier Molina to a three-year extension that starts this season, the message was clear: this is Molina's turf until he decides to pick up his gear and move on.
Carson Kelly will turn 24 in July and is trapped behind an icon. The St. Louis Cardinals should do the right thing and ship him out this summer while his value is still high enough to command a decent return.
Before the minor league dreamers fire missiles towards South City, hear me out. This is what is best for Kelly and the Cardinals.
Look at it from Kelly's perspective. He's won a Gold Glove in the minors, found a way to produce offensively, and simply needs at-bats to prove his worth. He won't get that here. If you are sitting around waiting for Iron Man Molina to get hurt, good luck. It takes an errant throw from right field or an attempted steal of third to hurt Molina. Kelly will be 27 Molina's new contract is up.
Take the Cardinals point of view. You have an emerging talent in Andrew Knizner, who is 23 years old and hit very well in Springfield last year in 51 games. He's still a year or two away, but the Molina extension gives you time to watch him develop. He may not be as gifted defensively as Kelly, but he's a pretty good prospect. Colin Garner noted in a piece for Redbird Daily that Knizner needs to limit his shoulder movement when receiving pitches, but indicated the kid was looking better.
The Cardinals may need a trade this summer to stay in contention, so making Kelly expendable could be useful.
It's not like I'm sitting here thinking to myself that Kelly is useless and doesn't excite. He was hitting well in Memphis and stalled last year with St. Louis because he wasn't getting work behind Molina. Why should that change this year, next year, or in 2020? Molina shed some pounds in 2015 had has kept them off for three years now, and enjoyed one of his best offensive seasons in a while. He also recovered behind the plate after a troublesome 2016 season which saw his caught stealing percentage drop dramatically.
Kelly has value and could help bring in a fine piece for the Cardinals team. Knizner isn't Majors-worthy at the moment but could be with another year of seasoning. With his younger age (he just turned 23 on Feb. 3), the Virginia native buys the Cards some time to see how durable Molina's knees are. Up until this point, No. 4's knees may not be assembled from human parts.
Do you let Kelly waste away in Memphis or on the bench, or flip him for a useful piece this summer? I'm hanging out in the latter's bar area sipping some scotch.
Now, this would become null and void if something happened to Molina this spring, but if he makes it to June/July in one piece and is still producing, you have to make a move.
Once again, this isn't a disregard for Kelly's talent, but in reality a display of praise for his skills. He has the tools to get a legit shot but won't see it here. No, the Cards shouldn't put Yadier Molina at first base, thus pushing Matt Carpenter or Jose Martinez off the spot for potential at-bats. That wouldn't be wise.
If the Cardinals are smart, and I still think John Mozeliak knows what he is doing at the poker table. They should trade Carson Kelly this summer while his value is still high.
It's Yadier Molina's world and Kelly is simply living in it. Do something about that.