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Should the Cardinals be calling up Oscar Taveras?

Yes, he's a great prospect. Yes, I think he's ready to hit in the big leagues. No, I don't think the Cardinals should call him up right now. Here's why...

Oscar Taveras is wanted for the murder of this baseball.
Oscar Taveras is wanted for the murder of this baseball.
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

We all crave the "next big thing". I do it, you do it, everyone does it. In general, I've found that the more you hold yourself off from having said thing, the more you crave it, until at some point it becomes an obsession (or I might just have some sort of cake addiction).

My four year old is like this: She wants the iPad, she wants ice cream, she wants lima beans for dinner (don't ask). It's a bit like living with a pushy salesman, only you don't have to buy anything and the jerk follows you everywhere, even into the bathroom, pitching you the entire time. A great deal of research shows that delayed gratification helps with emotional and structural maturity in children, so the less you give in to these wants and needs, the less likely you'll have to face this decision when it comes to cars and college, and your child will be less of a slave to their id, constantly screaming at them to eat that cookie or join that timeshare.

The problem?  It's really, really hard to resist the urge to just give in, to stop the begging and pleading, to return to a level of sanity in my own home. You tell yourself you're doing her a favor, but when she's actively destroying the living room because she can't watch Doc McStuffins, well, you kinda just want the battle to end even if it's not going to help you win the war.

It's much the same for baseball fans with top prospects and for Cardinals fans, that's Oscar Taveras. The wunderkind who hit .386 out of nowhere in A ball in 2011 and crushed his way through the Texas League a year later. Some thought he should just skip AAA and head straight to the big leagues in 2013, displacing Jon Jay in CF and honing his craft from veteran Carlos Beltran in his final year with the birds on the bat.

The same rumors swirled around this spring, even after a bum ankle kept him out the last three months of 2013 and still hadn't been tested prior to February -- and even after the Cardinals had added a fairly exciting CF possibility in Peter Bourjos.  Can Bourjos hit enough to play everyday? Can Matt Adams his lefties? Why don't we just trade Matt Holliday and save some cash while bringing up this kid that's supposed to be the next Musial and spend all that cash on a relief pitcher?

While the jury is still out on Bourjos offensively, the kid is an absolute blur in the outfield, getting to damn near everything hit out there with the same "he came out of the side of the television screen" type of effect that we haven't seen since the heyday of Jim Edmonds. It's also pretty clear that Matt Adams can hit and that the naysayers should shut up and enjoy it, shift, no shift -- f*** that shift. To that last point, mostly coming from fans who either have never liked Matt Holliday due to the nut shot heard round the world in the 2009 playoffs or have just never appreciated how great he is in general, I say this: Since 2005, he's been the best outfielder in baseball by cumulative WAR. No, really, look it up.

So why all the hubbub about Taveras?  Well, because Allen Craig has stunk, Bourjos hasn't lit the world on fire at the plate (and has looked incredibly helpless in a Kozma-esque manner at times) and everyone still seems to want to displace Jon Jay. So why not bring him up right now?

There's no scenario, barring injury, that will allow Oscar Taveras to play everyday.

This isn't a guy you just bring up and bounce around the diamond, getting his feet wet while snagging 350 odd PA's the rest of the season (the Matt Carpenter method). For one thing, inconsistent playing time can be difficult on a hitter when making an adjustment to the big leagues. For another, any PA's Taveras is going to get in a corner outfield spot is going to take the bat out of the hands of a very capable hitter. It's a rich man's problem, for sure, but it's also a good reason not to force the issue just yet.

This is a guy you bring up, put in your lineup every single day and let him go to work. The problem, of course, is that if you do that you're either displacing a really good player who's off to a slow start or you're putting him in CF, which not only displaces two players who form a fairly valuable platoon, but also might hurt your team considerably defensively and put a lot of pressure on a newly repaired ankle to withstand a lot of abuse.

None of those scenarios make much sense. Allen Craig is a really good hitter and Matt Adams is proving the he is too. Platooning them at first base doesn't really help the Cardinals from a marginal win perspective, and would severely limit Craig's playing time assuming a natural lefty/righty platoon split. That's not something you do to a hitter coming off three straight seasons with a 135 wRC+ or better. Jay and Bourjos actually have a fine platoon on their own, projected to be worth a combined 3 WAR in 700 total PA's between them, which is actually more than Taveras would have been projected to put up in CF from the beginning of the year.

Fitting Taveras into the Robinson role doesn't make much sense either, since he would rarely play, and Robinson actually serves no purpose on this team in the first place: Joey Butler would make more sense as a right handed OF bat, and Pete Kozma or Greg Garcia far more sense as utility players assuming everyone else feels the same way about Daniel Descalso's defense as I do.

There's just no need to rush anything right now. Craig isn't going to carry a .489 OPS all season and Matt Holliday is Matt Holliday. Both of them should get 600+ PA's barring injury, which leaves few, if any, PA's for Oscar Taveras to take. I find service clock concerns to be petty, cheap, and stupid most of the time, but when you have two 4 WAR players on the MLB roster already why would you press to start the clock on your best prospect when he might get 300 PA's the entire season?

Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to see Oscar Taveras in the big leagues and I think he's going to be a great player. I also think that he's worth the wait, and like this piece of chocolate cake I've been eyeing since 5:00 a.m. the wait will make his debut all the more delicious when the time is right.