As the non-waiver trade deadline approached, the St. Louis Cardinals' most immediate need was first base. Mark Reynolds, who became the de facto everyday first-sacker after Matt Adams tore his quad, had hit about on par with what a fan might have reasonably expected entering 2015. Reynolds had a low average, a mediocre on-base percentage, and an okay slugging percentage. Taken together, Reynolds was a slightly worse than average batsman at the position that produces the most offensive output in the league.
In the weeks before the trade deadline, general manager John Mozeliak defined the size of the needle the Cardinals front office was attempting to thread with any trade. He stated that their preference was to acquire a rental at first base because they did not want to block Adams at the position in 2016 and beyond. Then Matt Holliday tore his quad a second time upon returning from the DL at something less than 100% after a five-week stint necessitated by his first strain of the muscle. Suddenly, the Cards' outfield depth—which seemed 20,000 leagues deep on opening day—was as shallow as a puddle and their need for a lineup-augmenting bat all the more pronounced.
The Cardinals acquired Brandon Moss, a first baseman/outfielder. The move was the type depth layering that has come to define Mozeliak's tenure as GM. Rather than trade for a two-month rental at first base, Mozeliak added a rental under control for a bit longer (one year and two months, thanks to Moss's final year of arbitration eligibility) and in the outfield as well as at first. If Jason Heyward signs elsewhere, the Cards have Holliday, Moss, Stephen Piscotty, and Randal Grichuk to handle the corner outfield positions. Should Adams reveal himself to be something less than a big-league first baseman at the plate, Moss might be used to cover that defensive position and provide pop at the plate. In a way, Moss provides the Cards with a lefthanded-hitting filler of the role Allen Craig might have occupied on this team had his offensive output not cratered a year ago.
But the depth got a bit even shallower on Sunday when Grichuk was forced to leave the game against the Marlins early due to pain in his elbow. The Cardinals labeled his condition "tightness" in his right elbow during the game. Afterwards, the club announced that Grichuk would require an MRI on Monday in order assess the damage. On Monday afternoon, we learned via the Cardinals' official Twitter account that Grichuk has been diagnosed with a right elbow strain that necessitated placement on the 15-day DL. Via J.J. Bailey of KMOV, Grichuk shared that it is a combination a muscle and ligament strain (maybe the team should've added an "s" to the tweet?). According to Alex Ferrario of KMOX, Mozeliak stated that Grichuk is expected to miss between 15 and 20 games.
To replace Grichuk on the 25-man active roster, St. Louis recalled the oft-injured Tommy Pham from Triple-A Memphis where he is tearing the cover off the ball once again this season.
However, the Cardinals appear intent on an outfield alignment that does not include Pham or the club's starter in center field on opening day in 2014. Peter Bourjos and Pham are on the bench tonight. Matheny has opted for the same outfield alignment he went with against the Marlins on Sunday after removing Grichuk from the game due to injury.
- Right Field: Piscotty
- Center Field: Heyward
- Left Field: Moss