(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Taking into account everyone on the St. Louis Cardinals big-league roster, there are a total of 12 players that are 30 years old or older. The oldest player on the team is left fielder Matt Holliday, who is 36 years old. Formerly, reliever Randy Choate was the oldest before free agency, at 40 years old. Matt Carpenter is the youngest of the 12 at exactly 30 years old.
And the veterans on the team, that range from Yadier Molina to Holliday, and also Adam Wainwright as three examples, have all played a big part in the franchise’s success over the past decade. But now, with a slew of young players joining the roster either from free agency or the deep farm system, the time has come where the organization can afford to give some of the veterans more rest.
One prime example is Holliday. The 36-year old left-fielder had an injury-plagued 2015 season, playing in only 73 games, hitting four home runs and 35 RBI’s. Meanwhile, Randal Grichuk filled in the role quite nicely, playing 103 games, while hitting 17 home runs as well as 47 RBI’s for a .276 average. He also had not only played well at the plate, but also in the field, bailing out Holliday’s nagging injuries.
The Cardinals outfield is deep with young stars, despite the loss of players Jason Heyward and Peter Bourjos. There’s the versatile Brandon Moss, last year’s rookie outfielders Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham, and Grichuk. Also, Anthony Garcia and Charlie Tilson are on the roster as deep backups. Any one of them could gradually be shifted into Holliday’s role, while the veteran rests more, to lessen the risk of further injuries.
Then there’s the case of Molina. The 33-year old is expected to have his cast taken off in February. Unfortunately, the issue with Molina’s situation is there is no true young backup behind him now that Tony Cruz is gone. Brayan Pena, the current backup, is actually older than Molina (34), and while he has a lot of experience, he obviously won’t be the future for the Cardinals. It’s not as if Molina is retiring in a year or two, but it’s that you, as an organization executive, would want to prepare sooner rather than later.
Lastly, in a case many do not talk about, is the situation regarding shortstop Jhonny Peralta. The 33-year old has hit 38 home runs in two seasons as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, and has shown exceptional defensive skills. However, inconsistencies at the plate have occurred more as of late. The acquisition of Jedd Gyorko is a big boost to the team, as the 27-year old still has many years to keep up his solid career stat line.
With the depth that the Cardinals have, it would be hard to imagine that they don’t rest the veteran players, both hitters and pitchers, at least a little more frequently than last year. Having your leaders healthy is one of the biggest keys for a successful team, and that’s what the Cardinals will be looking to do: stay healthy.