A few weeks ago at the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up, General Manager John Mozeliak tempered some of the expectations for prospect Oscar Taveras heading into the 2014 season.
“It’s hard one to answer because he’s just such an amazing talent,” said Mozeliak. “It’s not sort of comparing apples to apples with someone like this. Clearly, he lost a lot of at-bats last year, so when you think about things in an aggregate sense of experience and exposure, yes he missed time but there is no way to replicate that..I think the one thing you always have to remind yourself of is just be patient.”
That thought-process has been evident as through the first few days of workouts in Spring Training for the Cardinals in a variety of subtle ways–such as Taveras being assigned #77 and remaining in the middle of the minor league side of the clubhouse.
It’s not that Oscar has no chance to break camp on the big league roster–Manager Mike Matheny has been adamant about competition this spring. But the reality is Oscar is going to have to play his way into the 25-man squad.
Pending who’s starting, either Peter Bourjos or Jon Jay will be available off the bench. Shane Robinson has experience as a reserve and Mozeliak has touched on the difficulty of weighing Taveras benefitting from playing everyday at Memphis versus a limited role with the Cardinals.
“Is it better to get 15 at-bats in the big leagues or 45 at Triple-A,” pondered Mozeliak. “I still think at his age and where he’s at, development is critical. Having said that, then you also have to look at the DNA or how the club is composed. Could we use him in a more functional manner?”
And while that question won’t be answered until Grapefruit League games are underway in mid-March, Mozeliak isn’t opposed to the talented prospect forcing a tough decision.
“I hope so, the best camp is always when you have those complicated decisions,” said Mozeliak a couple of days ago. “I’m excited that he does have a good camp and shows not only he’s healthy but he’s ready for the next step.”