Late innings with the lead in 2011- Edmonds or Jay?

It looks like the Cardinals 25 man roster was close to being set for 2011.  The Jim Edmonds signing yesterday threw a new wrinkle into the situation.  A problem that is good for the Cards in my opinion.  With the signing of Edmonds, it possibly changes a lot of things.  If Edmonds is healthy and Tony LaRussa feels he can provide 15 HR’s or so and still have a nice OBP as a spot starter as a bat off the bench in 250 AB’s or so, then I think it makes sense to take him north.  I mentioned the mentoring of Colby Rasmus yesterday, which is also a good thing.  I think the main question is whether or not Edmonds can be as good as a defensive replacement for Lance Berkman in the late innings as Jon Jay.  If so, then it looks like Allen Craig will win the last spot on the bench, assuming he plans to play a bit at 3B as well.

The one thing I think Edmonds does that Jay doesn’t do is give the Cardinals the ability to strike late in a game with one swing of the bat.  So the question really is, do we feel the Cardinals will have the lead often enough where replacing Berkman with Jay is more important than having Edmonds to come in and give the Cards the lead or tie the game with one swing.  Also, it’s not as if Edmonds is going to be awful defensively. 

I’m not sure if Daniel Descalso is going to win a spot over Tyler Greene.   I don’t think he will, and I hope Greene makes the club.  LaRussa made comments about Tyler Greene possibly seeing some time in center field in 2011, which leads me to believe that he has the upper hand.  Will we see Greene in CF on a lot of days when the Cardinals are facing lefties?  I hope not, as Colby needs as much exposure to them as possible.  How is he going to get any better facing them if not given the chance?

With that being said, it appears the Cardinals have a nice mix for defense in the late innings if this is the team they are going to go with.  It appears the roster will be:

Starting 8:

  1. Skip Schumaker—2B
  2. Ryan Theriot—SS
  3. Albert Pujols—1B
  4. Matt Holliday—LF
  5. Lance Berkman—RF
  6. Colby Rasmus—CF
  7. David Freese—3B
  8. Yadier Molina—C

The starting rotation is set:

  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Chris Carpenter
  3. Jake Westbrook
  4. Jaime Garcia
  5. Kyle Lohse

The bullpen has an opening or two, but I think it will be:

  1. Ryan Franklin—closer
  2. Kyle McClellan
  3. Mitchell Boggs
  4. Jason Motte
  5. P.J. Walters—long man
  6. Trever Miller
  7. Brian Tallet

This leaves a bench of 5 players, which I expect to be:

  1. Nick Punto—super sub
  2. Tyler Greene—INF and OF
  3. Jim Edmonds or Jon Jay-OF
  4. Allen Craig-OF
  5. Gerald Laird—C

So starting off with the catching duties, hopefully Molina won’t be out there for more than 125-130 games at the most.  He played 140 in 2009 and 136 in 2010.  The Cardinals need to keep him fresh, and hopefully Laird can help with that.

Getting back to having a lead in the late innings, I can see a lot of scenarios playing out.  The most obvious answer was to pull Lance Berkman from RF and replace him with Jon Jay.  I think Edmonds will have that role now.  If Allen Craig starts on those days, same thing, replace him with Jay or Edmonds.

Another creative thing Tony LaRussa is certain to do is to move Nick Punto to 2B and replace Berkman with Schumaker in RF.  I have no argument there.

So does Ryan Theriot ever get pulled?  I can see that happening when we are facing righties.  LaRussa will put Punto out at SS on some of those days, or mix and match in the late innings.  Nick Punto can be a player that is an asset, unless he is needed on an everyday basis if David Freese goes down early.

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