With call-ups coming over the next week, it isn’t too early to start
speculation on who will be playing in the postseason. As I already explained
in an earlier article, anyone on the 40-man is game for inclusion on the Cardinals’ postseason roster. While anything can happen over the next five weeks or so, here are five roster spots that could be in play.
Randy Flores, Rick Ankiel
If Kline’s injury is such that he is not ready
for the playoffs, this becomes wide open. While most teams drop to a four-man
starting rotation in the postseason, it doesn’t matter here, since all five starters are righthanded. So, another lefty to go with Ray King is mandatory.
Flores was called up, at least
ostensibly, to get the first shot while Kline is disabled. As I noted in my other
story, “Cards Offense Weakens Bullpen”, I have my doubts about whether Flores will get a real chance to prove himself in September.
That leaves Rick Ankiel. There is no subject that can divide the Cardinal nation any faster and deeper than the prospect of Ankiel
pitching in the playoffs. So, I will stop there for now. After all, Ankiel has yet to throw a pitch for the Cards this season.
Come to think of it, same from Flores! I’d call that wide open.
Backup middle infielder
Marlon Anderson, Hector Luna
As a Rule 5 pickup, Luna was required to remain
on the Cards’ 25-man roster all season or he would be lost to them. However,
that is not a requirement for the playoffs. Certainly, that makes his roster
spot vulnerable for the postseason.
Anderson started the season well, with a number of clutch hits, especially as a pinch-hitter. However, he went from hot to cool to cold to Antarctic cold. Anderson is hitting just .227 on the season
and if you exclude April, he is a putrid 27-for-149, .181. That’s the price to
pay for his “versatility”. Tell me why he remains on the team, again?
Cardinal watcher extraordinare Jerry Modene pointed
out that none other than Bo Hart has been playing shortstop for Memphis recently and asserts that Hart is a lock for the Cards’ postseason roster. I am not there yet, but I can see his point.
For Memphis this season, Hart has hit .302 with 39 extra-base
hits in 414 at-bats. He’s driven in 41, but shares the team lead with 13 errors.
So Taguchi, Roger Cedeno
Ray Lankford, John Gall, Colin Porter
Current course and speed, I really don’t see
this as much of a race. Taguchi has been delivering timely hits lately and is
a perfect late-inning defensive replacement for Sanders. Cedeno is a switch-hitter with speed and would seem to offer more than Lankford or Gall.
Of the three contenders, only Porter could play
center in a pinch to back up Edmonds. However, his season at Memphis has been nothing to brag about. So is a better choice.
On the corners, we have Lankford and Gall. We all know Lankford’s strengths and weaknesses.
He’s batting .212 in his rehab assignment, and hit just .250 for the Cards after a hot start in April. Gall, while having a fine season with the bat, is the very darkest horse for postseason play. After all, La Russa wouldn’t use him in the regular season, so why would he in the playoffs, despite Gall’s
.295 average and 22 home runs and 82 RBI for Memphis?
Jason Simontacchi, Al Reyes, Danny Haren
If Calero returns to health and form in September,
he would seem to be the favorite. Reyes is included here only because he happens
to hold the roster spot today (see Flores above). Haren is an intriguing possibility, but at least one of today’s
five starters will also be available for long relief in the postseason.
Non-contenders – Other players who may get
a September look, but would require an injury from another to get into the playoff picture:
Catcher Cody McKay
Third baseman Scott Seabol
Outfielder Kevin Witt
McKay is at least on the 40-man, but the other
two are not, making their October chances basically non-existant.
Obviously, a further injury or two could change
this picture dramatically. As it gets closer to October, I will update this as