It’s no secret that the St. Louis Cardinals are shopping for a shortstop this winter. They’ve been linked to trade discussions for every shortstop from Troy Tulowitzki and Elvis Andrus to considering an undead Honus Wagner … provided they could figure out a way to keep its arms on.
Peter Gammons of Gammons Daily says that Oakland Athletics shortstop Jed Lowrie might be on the Cardinals’ radar.
Gammons’ reasoning centers around Addison Russell being ready to make the leap to the majors in 2014. Russell’s a terrific prospect, but we’re talking about a soon-to-be-20 year-old who just hit .275/.377/.508 in High-A ball at Stockton. Yes, he showed pop—29 doubles, 10 triples, 17 homers—and speed with 21 steals in 24 attempts, but again … the California League to the majors is a huge jump. Just ask Rick Vaughn (wait, that was the California Penal League, never mind).
Russell has had a solid fall in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .307/.369/.467 with seven doubles, a triple and a homer to go with four RBI in 75 at-bats and he’s four for six swiping bases.
But the AFL is also a league filled with prospects playing other prospects, there are few guys playing in Arizona this fall that are completely ready to make the jump to playing every day in the big leagues.
What makes the idea intriguing is the plethora of young power arms the Cardinals can dangle as trade bait. But would they be willing to move a Kevin Siegrist or Carlos Martinez-type of arm for a guy in Lowrie who might be just a one-year rental? (Lowrie is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, don’t forget).
Russell got a cup of coffee at Triple-A Sacramento before the season ended, spending the last three games of the season with the River Cats. He was 1-for-13 and struck out nine times.
The worst thing that can happen to a young player is to get his confidence wrecked by being promoted too far too soon. Russell, the A’s first-round pick—11th overall—out of Pace, Fla., High School in 2012 has tools galore—speed, bat, power, arm (the glove is a work in progress). But let’s see how he handles the pitching in the Texas League and the PCL before throwing him to the wolves in the American League West.