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Allen Craig shifting rehab assignment to Triple-A Memphis

Apr 25, 2012, 10:49 PM EDT

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The Cards’ bench is about to get an upgrade.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, outfielder Allen Craig has been cleared to shift his minor league rehab assignment from High-A Palm Beach to Triple-A Memphis, the final step before rejoining the big league roster.

Craig has been on the disabled list since the start of the regular season due to November knee surgery, but he’s had full range of motion for well over a month and should be sufficiently geared up for major league at-bats as soon as he’s made active.

Craig, 27, batted .315/.362/.555 with 11 homers and 40 RBI in 75 games last summer before slugging four homers alongside a 1.013 OPS in the Cardinals’ magical postseason run. He should see regular action in right field this year on days when Carlos Beltran is either resting or feeling spry enough to play center.

  1. bigleagues - Apr 26, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    Allen Craig is not a bench player and will play virtually everyday. How this is not ubiquitously understood yet can only be a function of Craig’s unfortunate spat of injury the past few seasons.

    Matheny has said as much and LaRussa certainly made that clear last year when he was so desperate to get Craig everyday At Bats that LaRussa was started Craig at 2B with the goal of making him the Cardinals everyday secondbaseman. Then Craig went down with an injury and the Cardinals ever evolving roster settled into Schumaker at 2B.

    Bottom line . . . Craig produced a 2.8 (B-R)WAR & 2.6 (F)WAR over 219 PA’s – he was 2.0 oWAR in both systems of calculation . . . he ain’t sitting in favor of John Jay and now that Matt carpenter has gone ice cold, no one should be surprised to see Craig getting some time at 1B.

  2. spudchukar - Apr 26, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    Getting Craig into the starting line-up is vital for the Cards, be it second-base, first-base, or right-field. The dude can flat out hit, and is not a liability defensively. It is true that Carpenter’s production has slowed, but even when he isn’t hot, he draws walks, moves runners, and like yesterday delivers some unsung big hits. Let us not also disparage Jay. He is a valuable defender and has continued to hit .300 in what is now his third year of duty, has occasional pop, and is a threat on the bases. So finding Craig playing time is not easy, and the Red Birds have the luxury that most teams can only imagine, more good players than room to play them, a dilemma that Cardinal fans should recognize they are fortunate to have, and give Matheny some leeway as he tries to sort out playing time for those that so justly deserve it.

    • ajcardsfan - Apr 26, 2012 at 9:10 AM

      I can’t wait to see him back, then we’ll have another option other than Descalso at 2B and we remove Greene. I feel like getting Craig back will make us more flexible, and will allows us to some rotation when the waters have gone flat.

    • paperlions - Apr 26, 2012 at 9:11 AM

      If, at some point, they get everyone healthy…having Carpenter and Craig as options (and hopefully having Robinson still around, he’s shown more than Komatsu and losing Komatsu isn’t a big deal if they have to give him back as he’s skill set is fairly redundant with Robinson and Chambers), they should be able to rotate through days off for the vets without doing those annoying get away games where they bench every vet at the same time, typically giving away the last game of the series….I hate those games.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 26, 2012 at 9:21 AM

        Yeah…it drives me nuts. Going for the series sweep…and field the JV team the last game.
        Happened in at the game I went to in Cincinnati earlier this Month. I understand giving those players that may be a bit “longer in the tooth” rest. Getting A.C. back will help a great deal in this regard. I look for him to play a lot of 1B if Berkman doesn’t return soon. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Matheny gave him a little 2B time as well. Speaking of 2B…how about we just leave D.D. there for an extended period of time and see how it goes?
        Put him at 2B and leave him there for a few weeks.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2012 at 9:32 AM

        Shane Robinson’s success shouldn’t come as a great surprise to the Cards’ management, so I don’t quite get the Komatsu move. Sure he was cheap, has some real skills, but the Rule 5 restraints make it difficult to see how he is going to fit in, but this too has been apparent for some time. Some explanation from the front office as to their thinking would be welcome, but I’m not holding my breath.

        Seems to me a change in the Rule 5 rules is in order. The measure was put in place to help minor league players who were blocked in organizations, allowing them a different rout to the Big Leagues. That being the impetus for the rule change, wouldn’t it be prudent to allow teams that pick up a Rule 5 player to trade them? Wouldn’t that help their collective chances of gaining the playing time? And if organizations had that option, wouldn’t more teams be willing to utilize Rule 5?

        Playing reserve players more than other teams has proven to be a winning formula for the LaRussa era Cards, and I am glad that Matheny seems to be adhering to that strategy, but PL, you do make a valid point. No sense resting the regulars all at once, if it can be avoided. Recently, after garnering wins in the first two games of the series vs the Reds (I think), we rested Molina as needed, Beltran which was probably wise, after being plunked, but also Freese, on a day when I just could not see much need. As you say, rest is valuable, but let’s put a competitive team on the field and get a few sweeps.

    • stlouis1baseball - Apr 26, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      Spud: You are correct…it was the Reds series. As I posted below…I was at the game in Cincinnati. I went with my buddy (a die hard Redlegs fan) and my Dad. My Father and I were very dissapointed to settle into my seat and see we were playing our JV team while trying to secure a series sweep. No Berkman…no Beltran…no Freese. Yadi did play however. This was the game Chris Heisey had a pinch hit walk off single.

  3. okwhitefalcon - Apr 26, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    I don’t think Craig’s a starter unless Beltran, Berkman or Holliday go down. Their plan was to have him get him 400 AB’s and I suspect that’s still the plan as things move forward although probably on a more truncated scale. He’ll get plenty of action spelling the 3 mentioned above.

    He’s not going to see much (if any) time at second or center, especially coming off a knee injury that’s taken longer to heal than expected.

    I’m excited to have him back, the guy can flat out hit.

    • bigleagues - Apr 26, 2012 at 2:47 PM

      My understanding suggests that 400 at bats is a conservative estimate taking Craig’s knee injury into consideration. He will almost certainly be back by May 1st, and if he starts everyday (between 1B, 2B and OF), remains highly productive, as I firmly believe he will, then he will blow past 400 AB’s in September . . . but only because he’s starting his season a month later.

      • okwhitefalcon - Apr 26, 2012 at 3:56 PM

        I don’t think they’ll be rotating days off for Berkman, Beltran and Holliday if all are healthy just to accomodate getting Craig in the starting lineup everyday although 400 AB’s could still be attainable I suppose.

        Another wild card is Craig’s own health, he’s gotta stay upright to get those AB’s..

      • bigleagues - Apr 27, 2012 at 12:35 PM

        The injury aspect is certainly a factor. But, as a fan of Craig, I don’t factor injury into my concerns. As a fantasy player, I obviously place heavy weight on the chance of injury.

        But if Craig is happy he will hit at a high level. He’s that good. Berkman got days off last year, and I realize Matheny is new to the job, but I don’t see why Berkman wouldn’t similarly have a couple of off-days a month this year.

        And if there is a choice between Schumaker and Craig at 2B, I don’t think there is a much of a choice to make there. Schumaker is no Pedroia defensively, and Craig doesn’t seem to be any better or any worse defensively than Schumaker. So all things being equal of defense, I think Matheny will follow LaRussa’s lead and continue to ease Craig in at 2B full time, once they are confident his knee has completely healed and strengthened.

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