Along the marginal moves continuum, we can say that Aaron Miles is absolutely a Tony La Russa move; that Randy Winn is probably a Tony La Russa move; and that Allen Craig's position on the Major League roster to start last season was probably a John Mozeliak move. Now we have the Aaron Miles to Mozeliak's La Russa—the Cardinals have dumped Matt Pagnozzi, apparently in favor of long-suffering catching prospect Bryan Anderson. Mozeliak seems notably psyched up, compared to his usually subdued comments:
"I think we may change our model there," Mozeliak said. "I don't think we can look at the backup from solely a catch-and-throw standpoint. We need to consider offense, too."
This sounds like "I'm going to put Bryan Anderson on the 25-man roster, even if Tony La Russa glares at me," to me. Or maybe, "I'm going to put Bryan Anderson on the 25-man roster; I hope Tony La Russa doesn't glare at me."
Might this mean that Yadier Molina, who had to be shut down this September, actually gets some days off? I can only hope. But as far as free backup catchers go, Anderson is ideal—he's left-handed, so La Russa has an additional excuse to put him in on specific days, beyond "Yadier woke up today and couldn't remember how to stand up." He's probably not ready to be a starter, but if Molina's out for a week or two Anderson offers a clear skill to watch for as the under-study—he's not just a flatly terrible replacement-level guy, even if there's no guarantee he isn't, finally, a replacement-level guy.
Bringing in a prospect to back Yadier Molina up at catcher might lead to concerns about playing time, but at 24, and having fallen off the prospect lists twice now, Anderson might finally be old enough and low-upside enough to use. And he's not Matt Pagnozzi, which is a win.
Meanwhile, it sounds like the Cardinals do intend to go into the 2011 season with Jon Jay in the large side of a platoon at right field. There aren't a lot of right fielders like that around—Carl Crawford has a slugging percentage of .450 since he became a starter, thanks to the triples, for instance—but it's clear what Jay needs to do to be a truly useful corner outfielder: hit exactly like he did last season.
Thanks to his late-season collapse that's a little less difficult than it was in August; counting his MLEs at Memphis, he finished the season with a Major League OPS around .769 in 500 plate appearances. It was the best year of his career, but he was also 25 and healthy. If he really is an above-average center fielder, and he really does manage a league-average OPS—which was lower last season than I'm used to seeing it, having come of age at the height of the Jeremy Giambi Era—and Allen Craig really does get all the at-bats against left-handers... having exhausted all those reallies, I kind of like this platoon. I wouldn't want to rely on either Craig or Jay to be a solid corner outfielder next season, but I'm more okay with relying on one of them to do it.
Given the state of the middle infield and the back of the rotation—where the Jake Westbrook signing rumors continue, although Mozeliak swears nothing is imminent—it's the right move. So is the Bryan Anderson thing. It's great to be able to worry about stuff like this in the abstract again; I can tell I'm not the only one who feels this way, because the Fan Confidence Poll has stormed all the way to 56. Sometime in July, the Cardinals barely holding on to first place in the NL Central, Joe Mather making wacky web-videos in Atlanta, I may well be less pleased by this platoon. But for now I'm into it.