COMMENTARY | The St. Louis Cardinals have one of the most potent offenses in Major League Baseball, and they have for the last few seasons. Beyond the starting eight players, there are very few hitters that strike fear in pitchers late in a game.
Meet Matt Adams.
At 6 feet 3 inches and 260 pounds, it is easy to mistake Adams for a visiting player from the St. Louis Rams instead of the first-base prospect that he is. His imposing frame gives a glimpse to what he brings to the team: power.
The bench for the Cardinals became barren of power many times last season. Outfielders Shane Robinson and Adron Chambers became frequent answers for pinch-hitting assignments late in the game. Once on base, these outfielders could wreak havoc with their speed but in key, run-producing situations, it was hard to be confident in the chance they gave the team.
Adams is just the opposite. A large man that is surprisingly agile, Adams has a smooth, left-handed swing that will spray the ball to all fields. More important, Adams' swing is custom-made to lift the ball over every fence in the ballpark. His gap power yields many doubles that will make a combination of late-inning pinch-hit assignments for him while providing pinch-running assignments for players like Robinson and Ryan Jackson.
Adams battled injuries in 2012, seeing a brief amount of time in the major leagues as well as at Triple-A Memphis. He produced 20 home runs and 63 runs batted in over the course of 244 at-bats. The 2011 campaign at Double-A Springfield produced 32 home runs, 101 runs batted in and a .300/.357/.566 slash-line.
Adams will struggle for playing time but will find his way on to the field in various ways. Not only will fans see him give Allen Craig a break from time to time at first base, but he will also see time at first while Craig provides some rest for right fielder Carlos Beltran.
The Cardinals will find ways to get Adams, and his bat, into the lineup in 2013. His primary focus will be on the bench, however, and providing the team with an impact bat late in the game.
That might just be one of the largest, and most needed, upgrades from years past.
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