For the second consecutive year while putting together my annual predictions on September call-ups by the St. Louis Cardinals, there is little suspense about the players involved. Almost certainly, there will be no long-awaited introductions to the major leagues of hot young prospects.
Due to the combination of injuries at the major league level leading to early trials for many and a full 40-man roster, I suspect that what you have seen during the season is more of what you should get in September.
Based on analysis of past years' September roster actions, a representative mix of eight players that might be added to the roster in a typical year would look like this.
Pitchers – three righties and one lefty
Catcher – one
Infielders – two
Outfielder – one
Of course, the necessary personnel need to be available to warrant the moves.
One also has to take into account at least three currently-injured players that may return during the final month. If ready to come off the disabled list, these players will cut into the available playing time – pitchers Lance Lynn and Eduardo Sanchez and infielder Nick Punto.
Last September, the Cardinals added an unusually-high total of ten players, at least partially due to injuries as well as still being in the playoff hunt.
In 2009, six minor league players
were called up. Two joined prior to the completion of
Timing is everything
One potential factor in the timing of
these moves is the fact that the Redbirds are in the hunt for their third
straight division title. The race could go down to Labor Day. In the last two
While the Cardinals want to
evaluate players, their immediate needs for playoff contribution are minimized.
One would assume they would not take
As of Sunday morning, the Redbirds are four
Roster seems set
Another factor that might limit new additions is the full 40-man roster. While normally several injured players on the 15-day disabled list could be moved to the 60-day DL to create space, there are no remaining players to easily shift this year. Adam Wainwright and Sanchez are already on the 60-day DL.
One 40-man move would be required for Sanchez. A marginal 40-man player could be removed to make room, such as Francisco Samuel, but a second drop would be more difficult. The organization may instead prefer to maintain flexibility heading into the winter.
Taking everything into account, my
best guess is that we will see the following seven Memphis Redbirds in
Catcher: Tony Cruz
Infielders: Tyler Greene, Mark Hamilton, Matt Carpenter
Outfielder Andrew Brown
Here are the five others currently on the 40-man who would be left behind in my scenario:
Pitchers: Adam Reifer, Francisco Samuel (both injured)
Catcher: Bryan Anderson
Infielder: Zack Cox
Outfielder: Adron Chambers
I will break down my thought process by position.
Pitchers: The Cardinals currently have 12 active pitchers. Add the two currently on the DL plus Dickson and Cleto and the September staff would be 16 strong. Among those not called up, Samuel has not yet demonstrated the necessary consistency even when healthy and Reifer is out for the year.
Of my seven projected minor league
call-ups, I am least confident that Cleto would be added, though he has pitched
relatively well in
Catchers: Tony Cruz has made his
reputation as an offensive-minded catcher with improving defensive skills. While
Bryan Anderson has come on strong with the bat in recent weeks, unless La Russa
wants four catchers,
Infielders: Greene will join a crowded scrum
of infielders that expanded when Rafael Furcal was acquired. Since none of the
incumbent shortstops are hitting well, if Greene can make a good impression
initially, he could see extended time. Mark Hamilton has put together a
productive season for
Outfielders: Brown has had a rough second half, but has bounced back a bit recently and could be added as a pinch-hitter. Chambers has yet to make his MLB debut, but has an outside chance as centerfield competition is sparse.
At 30 years of age, closer Victor Marte is not a prospect. He is under contract for next season, so no decision about his immediate future is needed. Right-hander Adam Ottavino has had an up and down year and some think his future should be in relief. There are no left-handers close to consideration.
Among the outfielders, Nick Stavinoha has been the most consistent run producer all season long for the Redbirds, but his major league future with the Cardinals seems dim. Shane Robinson, injured in April, but productive upon his return, will likely also be a numbers victim in his parallel attempt to reclaim a 40-man roster spot.
The bottom line is that I am
projecting a total of ten players to join
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