Four into three
Tony La Russa made his clearest explanation to date as to how he envisions the Cardinals’ outfield situation going forward. Essentially, he said, he plans to have four main outfielders rotating into three spots.
Now obviously Jim Edmonds will get more than 1/4 of the at-bats apportioned to outfielders. And Juan Encarnacion will probably get a slice a little bigger than 25 percent, as well. But in La Russa’s blueprint, the plan is not to have a single starting left fielder, nor is it to have a two-man platoon. It’s to have two guys who can divvy up the bulk of the at-bats left and also play some in center and in right when the other guys need days off. One will be So Taguchi. The other may be Larry Bigbie, and it may be John Gall, and it may be John Rodriguez, and it may even be Skip Schumaker.
Here’s the exact quote:
"There’s four guys that we’re looking at. One of them is Juan
Encarnacion, one is Edmonds, one is
Taguchi. So that leaves one. There’s four guys that will play a lot. So it’s
not left field. It’s four outfielders. We’re still looking for that fourth guy."
My follow-up question was, does that mean Taguchi’s status is different from the other competitors, Gall, Bigbie, etc.? And the answer:
"Absolutely. There was never any
doubt about that. Said that from day one."
Now, in my estimation, that doesn’t mean there will be ONLY four outfielders. I expect they will carry a fifth, presumably someone with a slightly more limited skill set — someone like Rodriguez or Gall, who may be the two best hitters in the bunch but are not considered at the same level defensively as Taguchi, Bigbie and Schumaker.
Currently on the iPod: flipping through songs that start with M, so at this second it’s "My Way Home" by Kanye West.