Remember when Allen Craig went down and Cardinal nation panicked. We looked at each other and screamed, “We can’t lose our RBI machine!” No way. Call the season over. Bring in Grissom and the CSI crew. Turn the channel, right? Well, unless people forgot who the best pinch hitter was for the first half of the season, they will know the blocked man known as Big Country Fried Steak Biff Webster Matt Adams was waiting in the wings.
In uniform and ready, Adams made himself known to ALL of Cardinal Nation and elsewhere in the MLB Network Fantasia when he launched two extra inning home runs on September 4th in Cincinnati to propel the Cards to a come from behind win. Adams’ emergence has made Craig’s absence a general moot point. Make no mistake, missing the crispy clutch reliability of Allen stings on some nights, but Adams is making first base a comfy spot for himself in 2014. Let’s put it this way, the more he hits, the easier I can see the Cards letting Carlos Beltran go if he gets too greedy in 2014. A great pinch hitter is one thing. A solid power bat who likes to strike out is fine for such a young player like Adams. He goes up there looking for the ranch dressing dripping off the buffalo chicken wing and when he connects fully, the ball doesn’t stop traveling before the camera needs a nap or a person in the stands needs an ice pack. The kid is good as advertised and another sign of this team’s massive depth.
Let’s look elsewhere real quick to bring the lost crowd up to speed or just lay on the icing.
*Chris Carpenter goes down for good in July. Finally enter Joe Kelly. 9-1 in the past 2 months as a starter. Bang boom Carpenter is a bench Jedi and Kelly is a go to guy.
*Rafael Furcal goes down, Skip Schumacher moves on, the middle infield is trash unless Matt Carpenter turns into a solid defensive second baseman and happens to lead the NL in 3 hit games, multi hit games, doubles, collects 192 hits, scores nearly 120 runs, cool facial hair consistency and oh yeah, he is a legit leadoff guy.
*Jaime Garcia bites the dust and Jake Westbrook falls off the wagon while Lance Lynn once again falls apart mentally. What to do? Call up and insert into the rotation Michael Wacha. An over the top dealing hard thrower who is only showing a hint of his greatness. Even when he gets beaten up, the kid manages to keep us in it.
*Jason Motte goes down before spring training finishes, Mitchell Boggs steps in and blows up and the closer role is hanging in the wind before April wraps up. Enter Edward Mujica. He converts 37 saves in 41(should be 42 but tonight he was wrongfully spared official blame) before burning out in late September. Enter John Axford, who puts out a fire on a wild night in Milwaukee Friday night. Axford, Trevor Rosenthal or white hot rookie lefty Kevin Siegrist will be able to take over for Eddie if the Chief needs relocation to salvage a less than stellar final month.
And, by the way, Yadi Molina is still irreplaceable.
Add it up ladies and gents and depth wins championships. Remember 2006 when Izzy broke down and the closer role went to a young unproven arm named Adam Wainwright? Yeah, we won it all that year. In 2011, we leaned on rookies named Jon Jay, David Freese, Allen Craig, and journeyman arms like Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel to seal the ring distribution. 2013 will be no different at least in preparation. The Cards are stacked with options. Tonight when the fire was put out and the lead was reclaimed, forgotten man Carlos Martinez registered his first career save. There are options upon options in this team’s windpipe. What happens when Craig returns? Adams becomes the versatile weapon. Beltran gets rest. If Mujica goes to the 7th to calm down, you move Siegrist to the 8th and Rosenthal to the 9th. As I have said all season long, the Cards have good problems. Massive amounts of depth. More on the way too. The payroll will either be lean and mean in the coming years or the Cards can beef up certain areas with salary if needed. They are where every GM wants their club to be sitting. In the promised land surrounded by strong ready to produce crops.
Adams, with only 264 at bats, has 15 home runs and 48 RBI. In the month of September, he is hitting .317 with 6 HR and 12 RBI. That’s depth on the roster.
Final Sweet Gravy Thought-The Pirates lost a crushing game tonight against Cincinnati. The Bucs blew a 5-2 lead in the 9th and lost via a Joey Votto opposite field jack that brought the Reds even with Pittsburgh for second place. With 8 games to go, the Cards are up 2 games on each team. Unless crazy happens, it will be hard to knock the Cards out of this position atop the NL Central. Remember near mid August when tears were falling, Yadi was down and the Cards were looking up at the Pirates in the division? Guess what, those days are LONG GONE.
Feel good, get some rest and come back ready for another Cardinal win tonight. Win #90 was pretty good. #91 will be even sweeter.
Thanks for staying,
@buffa82 on twitter
Arch City Sports/United Cardinal Blogger Contributor
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PHOTO CREDIT(David Kohl, USA TODAY Sports)