Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bernie: Crowded Outfield Is a Real Problem

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bernie: Crowded Outfield Is a Real Problem

Article excerpt

How many outfielders does it take to screw in a major-league offense?

The Cardinals are still trying to sort all of this out. They have more outfielders than major-league jobs, and it's approaching a sensitive stage where something has to give, and someone has to go. Pass the pain pills to GM John Mozeliak, for this is a headache.

"When you look at depth in baseball, it's a good problem to have," Mozeliak said Wednesday afternoon. "But I think we're starting to get to that point where it might become a problem. So even though it's a nice thing to have true depth in your system, at some point you've got to be able to play the depth."

Play the depth.

Or play on

Hoping to scratch out a few more runs here and there with an attack that's 29th in the majors in homers.

Offensively the 2014 Cardinals have one of the least menacing outfields in the majors. As a group they came into Wednesday's game against the New York Yankees with 10 homers and a rather scrawny .374 slugging percentage. To put it bluntly, they scare no one. That .374 SLG would be the weakest by a Cardinals outfield since 1988.

The St. Louis organization also possesses one of the most productive outfields in the Triple A minors, headlined by young guns Oscar Taveras, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty. While Piscotty isn't quite ready, Taveras and Grichuk loom as potential remedies. But a top-prospect bat can't be a solution unless the GM and the manager ask him to move up from Memphis to solve the problem.

Mozeliak isn't ready to pull the plug on his current outfielders, or rearrange the configuration by moving right fielder Allen Craig to first base to open a spot for Taveras or Grichuk. An upcoming stretch of games in American League parks presents a designated- hitter opening that can temporarily relieve the personnel congestion. But soon it will be back to the normal overcrowding.

Mozeliak is paid to be calm and rational, and he's earning his keep. There's no panic in his veins. Well, not yet, anyway. But Mozeliak isn't afraid to strike and do it suddenly; remember his stunning three-team trade before the trade deadline in July 2011? Result: Hello, new bullpen. Bye-bye Colby Rasmus. And hang another World Series flag at Busch Stadium.

It's difficult to read exactly where this is headed, but a bold move is inevitable in July, or in the pre-2015 offseason. The Cardinals averaged 4.8 runs a game last season. This year they're averaging 3.9. If Mozeliak was willing to fix the bullpen in 2011, he'll certainly try to upgrade the offense in 2014.

It's just a question of when. And who.

In left field there's Matt Holliday, an effective overall hitter with a slugging percentage that's been in gradual decline since 2011. But he won't be displaced. In center field, there's Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. …

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