The Cardinal announced that they are promoting outfielder Randal Grichuk and infielder Greg Garcia to help the ailing offense. The two fielders are replacing second baseman Kolten Wong and outfielder Shane Robinson; Wong struggled to hold down the starting second base job, while Robinson offered little offense off the bench.
While some are surprised by the Wong demotion, people were more surprised that Grichuk was the outfielder promoted; they shouldn’t be though.
Grichuk was hitting .313/.356/.542 in his first 20 games at Triple A Memphis and has been batting over .400 against lefties. He can also play all 3 outfield positions.
He’s the better choice to be on the bench because he’s healthy, can play all 3 outfield positions, and is on the 40-man roster. Highly touted prospects Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty can’t claim that; Taveras has battled injuries and there are questions around his ability to stick in center, while Piscotty is not on the 40-man and can only play the corners. Both also need to receive constant playing time in Triple A before they get an opportunity in the Majors. Joey Butler is in the same boat, as he’s not on the 40-man roster and inability to play center, while his potential is far less than the other 3 (plus, if the Cardinals were to add Butler back to the 40-man and decide to DFA him later on, he can refuse the assignment and become a free agent).
The key point in this is centerfield; while Grichuk might start out as a bench player, he’ll have the opportunity to pass Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay in centerfield with a hot start. Grichuk has better power than the other 2, and his defense is better than Jay’s. Plus, his power as a starter could off-set the missing power from Allen Craig.
Even if Grichuk doesn’t get much playing time and gets 4-5 at bats per week, he’ll provide more power than the current bench members (or those 2 demoted) would be able to.
Garcia gives the Cardinals a little more power too (he was leading Memphis with 5 homers), but he gives the team a true back up at shortstop; Dan Descalso can fill in at short, but if Jhonny Peralta were to go down to a serious injury, Garcia would be the best option on the active roster to replace him.