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On the offensive: the leadoff spot

February 5, 2008

2008 cardinals leadoff man? 

so, this post will be the first installation of what has become an annual series. I use the “On the offensive” series to break down the cardinals lineup spot by spot starting with the leadoff spot today. as many of you that follow the cardinals this winter, eckstien, the cardinals main leadoff man for the last three years has departed in free agency (signed a one year deal with the bluejays).

So, this season it looks like the cardinals will not have one main leadoff hitter, but a rotation of them (I’m guessing at least two if not three or four). so who are the candidates to lead off? matthew leach lists them here: skip schumaker, adam kennedy, aaron miles, bryan barton, brendan ryan and of course the one and only colby rasmus.

were to start? well, let’s start with the totally unproven guys; rasmus and barton. barton was a highly regarded prospect in the cleveland indians system that had hit a rash of injuries which caused him to fall out of favor with the indians organization. he has hit in all his minor leagues and his defense is supposed to be above average to very good from what i’ve read.

the problem is he is a rule 5 draft pick and must be kept on the big league 25 man roster the whole season or returned. I don’t know if he can stick in the major leagues since be will be making the jump from AA to the bigs (skipping AAA). knowing tony larussa, this guys is going to show a lot defensively and really hit well to even get a sniff of making the big club because of all the veterans trying to make the team and other guys that have more experience. even if he makes the team, he will probably be hitting leadoff against left handed hitters most of the time because he is a righthanded batter. the good thing about him is that he can play all three outfield spots.

now, to the wonderkid, colby. he doesnt have a major league yet, he has not had an at bat in AAA ball either. He is by far the best player in the organization and if anyone can make the jump to the bigs is him. the cardinals would like him to play at least half of the year if not most of it at memphis. if he makes the team though, he will most likely be the starting centerfielder and would probably be your leadoff man for most of the season. I don’t see this happening because, again, he will have to play way over his head in S.T. to make this TLR club over the vets.

brendan ryan will most likely not make the team because of the infield crunch the cardinals. his chances of making the opening day roster really deminished when the cardinals made the stupid decision and signed aaron miles to a guaranteed one year deal worth 1.4 million dollars. you couldnt just give him an invite to S.T.? damn it to hell! so, ryan will almost certainly start the year off in AAA.

what about adam (or as the guys at the CD call him, amanda) kennedy. NO, just plain no. he has a decent career obp (.329), but its not leadoff man material. to be a leadoff man, i would think your obp has to be at least around .350 if not above that; his has been declining for the last three seasons and last season it was at an all time low of .282. if he regains his form, he is more of a 9th spot hitter (if the pitcher is batting 8th), 8th spot, 7th or even the 2 hole. he is not a leadoff man.

skip schumaker. he is very intriguing to me. the problem comes with this signing. that will cause a crunch in the outfield. juan gonzalez will probably make the team if he shows life in his bat and the ability to shag flyballs in the corner posts in the outfield. that means, one of the outfielders will not make it. skip is a good player that makes solid contact and plays pretty good defense; he can handle himself in all three outfield positions. last year, he played exceptionally well, especially offensively (granted, it was in a limited role). here in lies the problem; the cardinals will most likely carry 12 pitchers. then you got 1b, c, 3b, lf, cf set. that leaves you with seven spots. spezio, larue, kennedy and miles are on the bench; thats a total of 22 spots. that leaves three. assuming that duncan plays left and ankiel patrols center, there is going to be an outfield crunch. ludwick will probably make the team; now two spots are left. im betting juan gone makes the team= 1 left. barton or schumaker? don’t know. actually, neither because I forgot to mention izturis; he got a guaranteed deal as well, whats up with all these guaranteed deals? unless he pulls a deivi cruz, he will make the team.

Conclusion, too early to decide. we are going to have to let this one play out and see who wins. if colby makes the club, it would be very clear. if not, the leadoff spot will be another place for tony to use his brain power for another platoon. your guess is as good as mine.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2008 5:22 pm

    It’s Brian Barton (no y).

    Juan Gonzalez will not make the team. He was invited to camp to appease Pujols, Yadi, and Oquendo.

    Teams typically try to keep Rule Vs despite performance because if they don’t they have to offer him back to the Indians for 25k or work out a trade. My guess is he’ll break camp with the big league club. Remember Miguel Mejia? He stuck with the club for an entire season despite hitting .087 and mainly pinch running in 2006.

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