Posted on January 23, 2009 at 7:43 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
Maybe it's appropriate for a guy nicknamed Santa Glaus. Because it's starting to look like it may be a holiday before we see him again.
The latest article from Joe Strauss
indicates that Troy Glaus may miss up to five weeks of the season after his shoulder surgery done earlier this week. That puts him returning pretty close to Memorial Day and may change the equation on who is at third on Opening Day.
The 12-week window banded about yesterday in the initial aftermath of the announcement seems to be the very best case scenario. Even John Mozeliak indicated yesterday that it could be longer than that. Which is no surprise to Cardinal fans. Numerous people have been relieved to know that George Paletta didn't do the surgery. If he had, many fans wouldn't believe Glaus's arm was still attached unless they saw it themselves.
Why some of this wasn't found on the exit physical last year remains to be determined. It sounds like it was there, even if it was laying dormant due to the muscle not being used as much. In fact, he was hurting at the end of the 2008 season.
I can understand why the Cardinal staff thought rest and therapy might have worked, but you get the nagging feeling that, if they'd done just a little more work, they might have found it. Maybe not, maybe they did all they could do. I'm not a doctor and I have no clue on that. But it's not one of their finest hours to have this happen, and this is a staff that could use some finer hours to burnish their reputation in Cardinal Nation.
I also don't really blame the Cardinals too much for not discussing this during the Winter Warmup last weekend. I'm not sure Glaus should have necessarily been talking about a healthy winter when that doesn't seem to have been entirely the case, but until surgery was determined, there's a case for keeping that under wraps.
As for who will be manning the hot corner April 6, that should be one of the major story lines in Jupiter this year.
Of course, you have the obvious suspects that we discussed yesterday. Brett Wallace probably has to either have a monster spring (and Colby Rasmus can attest that those don't always get you on the roster either) or have the prognosis on Glaus come back worse, that he'll be out until the All-Star Game or something of that nature. The team won't want to start the arbitration clock on him just for a couple of weeks of play, especially when they could probably tread water with other options.
As I talked about yesterday, David Freese is probably the favorite at the moment. He is older, has a year of Memphis under his belt, but probably won't be in the organization long enough for that arbitration issue to be a real factor for the Redbirds. And that utility possibilty does help him get another point on Tony LaRussa's chart.
Allen Craig is the forgotten man among prospects. They may use spring training to let him have a lot of time and pump up some trade value. If he has a good spring, he could get the job, because again I don't think they'll worry too much about starting his arb clock. He'll have to prove that he can skip AAA, though.
For those on the roster, the most intriguing is Joe Mather. That would be one of the best ways to allieveate the outfield glut that St. Louis has. It would get Mather's potent bat into the lineup while still allowing for Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick and Colby Rasmus (or Skip Schumaker, or Chris Duncan) to play as well. I expect that Mather will get a lot of time at the hot corner come February, probably even playing in some minor league games to get reps.
I'm not sure they can replace Glaus's production and overall game, but if he's only out a few weeks, they probably can hold their own until he returns. If it's a longer issue, though, there could be some tough choices ahead.
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