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Cardinals Outfield

With the recent news that last season's starting centerfielder, Jim Edmonds, and starting rightfielder, Juan Encarnacion, are likely to begin the season on the disabled list, an opportunity presents itself for fantasy players to find a player who gets full-time work only to see his playing dimish greatly with the return of both starting outfielders.

Right now, Chris Duncan is locked into the leftfield job.  With Edmonds and Encarnacion out, he should get the opportunity to play everyday.  Prior to these injuries, he was a risk to platoon albeit on the good side.  If he hits the few lefties he faces during the first couple weeks of the season, he could be in for a 550 AB season.  If that occurs, he is a lock to match last season's 22 HRs and will likely hit more.

As of now, I favor Preston Wilson to emerge as the lead 4th outfielder ahead of So Taguchi.  This is a gamble because Taguchi is a LaRussa favorite, but Wilson did what fantasy players prefer in the 111 ABs he received following his trade from the Astros.  He hit 8 HRs and stole six bases after hitting 9 and stealing 6 in 390 Abs with the Astros.  With that combo, Wilson is an excellent scrub in the Scrubs & Stars strategy.

So Taguchi is a lock to appear in more than a 100 games.  Unfortunately, he is also a lock to produce nothing in terms of HRs and RBIs.  How an outfielder receives 316 ABs and only hits 2 HRs is beyond me.  Hence, I concluded Taguchi is a LaRussa favorite.

Scott Speizio is likely to see a lot of outfield time, too, and his productive in limited ABs last year is encouraging - 13 HRs and 52 RBIs in just 276 ABs.  He drew walks and also hit 15 doubles and legged out 4 triples. The question is whether last year represented a breakthrough is his extra-base power and batting eye or whether it was a fluke.  Either way, I expect him to receive a similar number of ABs somehow.  Backing-up in the infield and platooning in the OF with Duncan if CDunc fails to hit lefties.

John Rodriguez and Skip Schumaker are two other outfielders who appear to have too many hurdles to clear for regular ABs - even with Edmonds and Encarnacion out.  Both need a third outfielder injury to get into the playing time picture.

As thing stand, I am going to put So Taguchi as the most likely to lose ABs when Edmonds and Encarnacion return from thier stints on the D.L.  If Taguchi somehow hits a couple of HRs and steals a couple bases in those first two weeks, sell him high.  Between playing time and past production, he will not maintian that pace nor will he get the ABs to do so.