Gauging Oscar Taveras' value
Welcome to the first week of June, in which the youngest baseball players will be on display as the sport’s annual draft is scheduled to begin Thursday night. Then over the next few weeks fantasy owners should see several major league-ready prospects selected years earlier get long-presumed tickets to the majors, led by Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco. The St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t wait, as an injury to first baseman Matt Adams forced their hand and gave us talented outfielder Oscar Taveras on Saturday. Taveras homered in his second at-bat and sans delay he's fantasy's most-added player. I'm actually going to skip my normal caveat about most hitting prospects struggling initially and needing to adjust to tougher pitchers because I just don't think Taveras will have too many problems.
The Cardinals moved Allen Craig from right field to first base and Taveras should handle the corner outfield spot for the next, oh, decade or so, but what if he does struggle? After all, Houston Astros outfielder George Springer didn't hit much in his first few weeks (now he's awesome). The danger with Taveras is that, when Adams comes off the disabled list from his calf injury in perhaps two weeks, he's reinstalled into the lineup. The Cardinals, after all, are contenders now. Craig, who hit .291 with 19 RBIs in May, isn't sitting. Neither is left fielder Matt Holliday. It's possible Taveras will handle center field, pushing aside the unproductive duo of Jon Jay (no power, bad defensively) and Peter Bourjos (elite defensively, can't hit), but unless he's playing full time, it doesn't make sense for the Cardinals to keep him in the majors. Adams is hitting .325, though curiously with little power and even less plate discipline. My take is Adams should get used to bench duty when he returns, and his owners should be prepared for the inevitable.