The Cardinals were set to make multiple moves to the roster today. Over the weekend the team traded for Zach Duke, Aledmys Diaz was injured, and Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Moss were completing their rehab assignments. The chips have fallen. Diaz is indeed going to the disabled list with Jhonny Peralta taking his spot on the roster. Zach Duke will be activated with Dean Kiekhefer sent back down to the minors. In the most surprising move, Randal Grichuk was sent down to Memphis with Brandon Moss taking his spot.
Jhonny Peralta missed the first several months of the season, and when he came back he couldn’t really get going, hitting .221/.258/.416 for a 77 wRC+ in 120 plate appearances. His hand injury was going to be difficult to come back from, and that he aggravated the injury requiring another stint on the disabled list is not exactly surprising. If he is actually healthy, expecting average offense and decent defense at shortstop should fill some of the loss of the injured Aledmys Diaz.
Zach Duke coming in for Dean Kiekhefer means lefty in, lefty out, although the move is still a bit curious. Keeping Kiekhefer would mean four lefties in the bullpen, but presumably Siegrist, Lyons, and Duke are all guys who can pitch to either side. Jerome Williams remains on the Cardinals roster. It would seem that he will have the role of blowout pitcher/extra innings pitcher although he really isn’t very good. It isn’t necessarily a surprise that Kiekhefer is going down, but that Williams isn’t going down as well.
The Cardinals have been going with an extra man in the pen for several weeks while going short on the bench so one pitcher going down is an obvious move. What is perhaps a bit surprising is that Williams didn’t go down as well. Instead, the team opted to send down Randal Grichuk, the second time it has done so this season.
On the year, Grichuk is hitting a disappointing .216/.280/.414 with an 85 wRC+ although his 8% walk rate and 27% strikeout rate are both improvements over last year. His .257 BABIP has been holding his production back. Since he was last in the minors, his wRC+ is actually a decent 107 in just 68 plate appearances, but he has struck out 35% of the time and in 15 of his last 29 PA. His playing time had been inconsistent of late, so perhaps the organization believed it would be best to get him steady time in Memphis.
The result of this means that Tommy Pham and Jeremy Hazelbaker are your centerfielders unless the team wants to revisit Stephen Piscotty out there. Pham has actually struck out more than Grichuk over the past month, but he is walking more and presumably Hazelbaker had the advantage of being left-handed.
If Brandon Moss is healthy, he should provide a decent jolt to the lineup. Before hitting the disabled, Moss led the team with 17 homers on the season, and he is still second right now, one behind Matt Holliday. He will likely get opportunities both at first base and in the outfield, especially if Piscotty sees any time in center.
Some of the moves today everyone saw coming, but keeping up Jerome Williams at the expense of Randal Grichuk is a bit of a surprise, especially with the weak pitching staffs the Cardinals will face over the next 10 days. Williams should not have a role on this team, and regardless of your view of Grichuk heading into the season, jerking him around a bunch is not likely great for the 24-year-old’s development.