Troy Glaus left last night’s game with unexplained abdominal pains. After the game, Glaus said he felt much better (apparently, he couldn’t even stand up earlier in the evening) but was on his way to the hospital to get checked out. Although the Cardinals indicated the problem could be caused by anything from dinner to appendicitis, no news has surfaced as of yet (which could be distressing in itself). So, the million dollar question is: Who will step in at third if Glaus is diagnosed with appendicitis and must miss significant time due to surgery? To help answer that question, I’ve decided to skip our typical Game Recap and instead explore our internal 3B options. The eligible candidates are below:
Aaron Miles (.314 AVG, .343 SLG, .358 OBP – 0 HRs) – Of the players currently on the 25 man roster, Miles is probably the most viable defensive option, but he is still a 2nd baseman filling in at 3rd on his best days. Also, while hitting for a high average this year, his SLG % leaves something to be desired. Let’s not forget, Glaus will leave a large RBI hole in the lineup. We need better than a singles hitter to adequately replace him.
Brendan Ryan (.286 AVG, .317 SLG, .328 OBP – 0 HR) – Ryan is similar to Miles but with less defensive consistency and major league experience. He is clearly not comfortable at the hot corner. However, his offensive potential (especially in the area of extra base hits) is higher than Miles’. All-in-all, if Ryan is the best option we have, we need more options.
AAA Rico Washington (.158 AVG, .263 SLG, .273 OBP – 0 HRs) – Rico impressed TLR in Spring Training with his ability to handle 3rd base, but when given the opportunity to play at the Major League level, he was offensively (and at times, defensively) disappointing. His return to Triple A hasn’t gone much better (.191 AVG), and the organization has to consider his place on the overall depth chart severely degraded. Still, of the options explored so far, he is the only natural 3rd baseman in the group.
AAA Jarrett Hoffpauir (.261 AVG, .366 SLG, .363 OBP – 1 HR) – Hoffpauir is classified as a 2nd baseman, but as well as I can figure, the kid is capable of playing all of the infield positions in a crunch. While he doesn’t seem to have the comfortable average we like to see, his SLG percentage and one home run seem to indicate he does have extra-base hit power, and that could prove more valuable when replacing Glaus over an extended period of time. The up side – Hoffpauir is highly regarded by the organization and has traditionally hit for a higher average. The down side – he’s green. Can he adjust to the Major League level fast enough to be of any help at 3rd base?
AAA Joe Mather (.305 AVG, .669 SLG, .406 OBP – 11 HRs) – This kid is HOT. He is the Triple A equivalent of Ryan Ludwick, right now. Consistent eye-opening power, hits for a high average, and is enough of an athlete to display above average versatility. The problem? Mather broke into pro ball as a 3rd baseman – he was moved to the outfield for a reason. The question? Could he handle 3rd base defensively at the Major League level? As of yet, I just don’t know. I do know Mather is crushing the ball and is capable of playing the outfield and both infield corners in a pinch. The major roadblock? Tony La Russa. TLR is hesitant to bring Joey Bombs up to this level just to sit him on the bench two out of three games. Still…kid’s gotta’ get some consideration.
AAA David Freese (.258 AVG, .411 SLG, .311 OBP – 4 HRs) – Freese is in a unique situation when compared to the other options. He’s the only man in the group not on the 40-man roster. This basically means the Cardinals would have to make an additional move just to get him eligible for call-up. However, it could be worth it. Freese was the player we received from San Diego in the Jim Edmonds trade. He skipped AA and moved from single A directly to AAA. So far, even though his average is down, he seems to be showing he can stick. And, his SLG percentage and batting average are perhaps most similar to Glaus’ – albeit at AAA. If the 40-man roster situation is the down side for Freese, the up side is the fact that he is a natural 3rd baseman.
When it comes right down to it, I gotta’ go with Joey Bombs. Mather is just hitting too well to ignore any and all opportunities to bring him up to the Big Leagues. And, he already proved he can hold his own against pitchers at this level in Spring Training. Sure, he could be a liability at 3rd, but so is Brendan Ryan. TLR doesn’t want to bring up Mather just to sit him on the bench, but bringing him up as a 3rd base replacement and his versatility means he could conceivably get him in the lineup 2 out of 3 games. Need an outfielder? He can do that. Need a first baseman? He can do that, too. Need a 3rd baseman? Well…I THINK he can do that…at least as well as Ryan has performed over there this year.
The 50/50? Rico Washington. Sure, he didn’t exactly impress during his brief stint with the club, but it did provide him invaluable Major League experience over the other options. Also, in addition to being a natural third baseman, the club could place a bit of additional value on his overall pro ball longevity. The guy HAS been in the minors for a LONG time.
Of course…all of this is a moot point if it turns out Glaus just had some bad Chinese…
P.S. Yeah, Allen Craig in AA could be an option…but I doubt the club wants to force a guy to jump over so many viable options at AAA and possibly damage his overall development.