The Cardinals bench has become a topic of discussion recently, thanks in part to Kolten Wong’s comments to Ben Frederickson. Wong expressed his displeasure to the idea of platooning, before “clarifying” his comments later. For this post I will assume Wong is the starting second baseman and Gyorko will work in a utility role. With the season starting Sunday, let’s take a look at the players who will begin in reserve roles for the Birds.
Jedd Gyorko – I spoke briefly about him earlier and his current role with the ball club. He will likely serve in a utility role thanks to his ability to play all four infield spots. Last year Gyorko swatted 30 long-balls in a part-time role and hopefully will do more of the same this year. Depending on Wong’s productivity, Gyorko could find himself in a lefty-righty platoon or even as the eventual starter at second base. According to spotrac.com, Gyroko is signed through 2019 with a club option for 2020. However, the Cardinals are only paying one third of his $6 million 2017 salary with the Padres picking up the rest.
Matt Adams – Adams has somewhat reinvented himself this season by slimming down, getting a sleeve tat, and learning to play the outfield. He has played four games in left field this spring, but didn’t see a fly ball until yesterday. Although he did make the plays, Adams did not look particularly comfortable in the field. On the offensive side of things, he has been very productive this spring with a .340/.396/.681 slash line through 47 at-bats. Adams should spell Carpenter at first base when he needs a breather, and potentially see time in left.
Greg Garcia – Garcia will make the Cardinals roster as another back-up infielder due to his ability to get on-base, positional versatility, and the fact that he is out of minor league options. Jenifer Langosh of MLB.com has a nice piece on Garcia that you can find here. Garcia has played parts of the past three seasons with St. Louis, including 99 games in 2016. He has never posted an on-base percentage below .333 in the majors. 2016 was his most successful season (.393 obp) while also his biggest sample size. Some of us at Redbird Daily believe a platoon of Gyorko and Garcia at second base could be the best option for the Cardinals.
Eric Fryer – Although not currently on the 40-man roster, Fryer will serve as Molina’s backup in 2017. This was confirmed Saturday by Matheny during his player meetings. The Cardinals can easily clear a spot on the 40-man by moving Alex Reyes to the 60-day DL following Tommy John surgery. Top position player prospect, and fellow catcher Carson Kelly will head to AAA Memphis for regular playing time as he continues to develop. Fryer has seen time in the majors in parts of six seasons from 2011-2016. This includes 24 games with St. Louis in 2016, prior to being designated for assignment and claimed by Pittsburgh. Fryer has never seen significant playing time with only 125 career games, and this trend will likely continue as Molina plays more than any catcher in baseball. When called upon though, Fryer will be a nice backup who is more than capable.
Jose Martinez – Martinez will serve as the Cardinals fourth outfielder thanks in large part to a fantastic spring (.367/.483/.714). Martinez has also played some at first base adding to his versatility. Tommy Pham, who entered as the likely fourth outfielder endured a horrible spring (.209/.320/.279). He was unsurprisingly optioned to AAA Memphis on Saturday as correctly predicted by Rusty. Martinez is not a prospect at 28 years of age (will turn 29 on July 25th), and did not make his major league debut until 2016. In a very small sample with St. Louis at the end of 2016, Martinez was successful slashing (.438/.500/.500). While he does not have the ability to play centerfield, with both Fowler and Grichuk capable, this should be a non-issue unless an injury arises.
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