The Cards have OF issues in general, but today I’m going to focus on Center Field.
Until this year, our regular Center Fielder was Jon Jay, a guy who’s value is mainly derived from a career .293 batting average and a career .355 on base percentage. The problem is that he adds no power, and doesn’t steal bases (He stole 19 in 2012, but only 10 last year and only 2 so far this year) Plus his defense hasn’t been good. He had a negative dWar last year, and is neutral this year. So we went out an acquired a speedy, defensive Center Fielder named Peter Bourjos from the Angels for David Freese. (We also got a minor league outfielder named Randall Grichuk,)
Fast forward to this year. Jay is hitting his career average (.293) with the aforementioned 2 stolen bases and neutral dWAR. His overall WAR is 0.8 Bourjos, meanwhile is hitting .202 and is worth 0.3 WAR, so Jay has been more valuable. Not exactly what General Manager John Mozeliak had in mind, I’m sure. There is a third option, and it’s the option many fans want, myself included. Play our exciting rookie, Oscar Taveras, in CF. The team is uncomfortable doing this. He played CF a little in the minors, but mostly RF. However, players can learn on the job, it’s happened in the past.
The wild card here is right field. If Allen Craig continues to struggle, then all three can play with Taveras playing Right and Craig serving as the 4th outfielder. For the sake of this argument, we’re assuming that Craig (Or Grichuk, for that matter) plays Right Field.
The important thing, in my opinion, is to get Taveras’ bat in the lineup as often as possible. The more he plays, the more he becomes acquainted with major league pitching. Play Taveras. Use Jay as your 4th outfielder to give people days off, and as a pinch hitter, and use Bourjos as a defensive replacement and a pinch runner. Seems obvious to me, but what do I know?