Give Me a Few Minutes. I’m Trying To Think Of a Reason to Keep Jhonny Peralta Around

When Kolten Wong soon returns from the DL, the Cardinals will have a roster decision to process, and this could mean Jhonny Bye-Bye.

Unless there’s a new injury or some other unexpected development, the Cardinals will have to subtract a player from their 25-man congregation.

I’m trying to think of a good reason why Jhonny Peralta would survive the cutdown.

Just give me a minute …

I need a few more minutes…

Make than an hour …

Let me run this through …

Here’s a Q&A with … myself:

Well, the Cardinals could go with seven relievers instead of eight, right? 

Sure they could. Absolutely. But if you really believe manager Mike Matheny can function with only seven relievers, then you would also believe that Matheny campaigned for Hillary Clinton last fall.

What about Jose Martinez? Nice guy and all. The persistent underdog who finally got a chance. But isn’t his time just about up? 

No. Small sample and all of that, but in 83 MLB plate appearances Jo-Mart is batting .312 with a .354 OBP and respectable .769 OPS. And he’s 13 for 30 against LH pitchers. And this corner outfielder can also play first base. (I didn’t claim that he plays it gracefully.) But Martinez is a nice piece for the bench. And he’s clearly better than the 35-year-old Jhonny Peralta.

Why not send DeJong back to Triple A Memphis for more seasoning? He does have minor-league options remaining. 

That’s funny. Cardinals management and Matheny have been selling DeJong as a fast-track gem of the farm system who is emerging as a potential core-nucleus guy. He gets promoted. In his first eight days in the bigs, DeJong bats .290, strikes for three extra-base hits and four RBIs, slugs .452, and has displayed deftness at second base. He can also play third base and shortstop. And if he stays here, he’ll get plenty of work in the super-utility role formerly played by Jedd Gyorko before Gyorko became the full-time starter at third base. Yeah… send the kid back down … which would only prove that management hyped another prospect that they won’t give a big-league job to, even though he’s clearly better than the 35-year-old Jhonny Peralta.

— Wait. DeJong can play second base and the Cardinals can keep Wong in Memphis!

Yeah, some of the BFIB would like that. Wong has attained Jay Bouwmeester status; it doesn’t matter how well Kolten plays, it ain’t gonna be good enough for the many citizens of Twitter. Wong isn’t exactly, say, the career-peak Chase Utley. But he was putting together a solid season, highlighted by a .378 OBP. Keep Wong in Memphis? Even though he has cultivated a career-high walk rate (11.5%), can run, and steal a few bags, is a plus defender at second base for his career, and currently has a higher OPS (.742) than Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, Aledmys Diaz and Stephen Piscotty? Sorry; the Bouwmeester of the Cardinals stays. Besides, he is clearly better than the 35-year-old Jhonny Peralta.

Do the Cardinals really need Greg Garcia on this team?

As the kids would say, LOL. Despited limited opportunities, the reserve infielder has been good for 2.3 Wins Above Replacement over the last two seasons combined. That’s an excellent WAR for a non-regular. Garcia is a slightly above-average defender at shortstop and third base and is about average at second base. He’s one of the team’s best base runners. In 354 plate appearances over the last two seasons Garcia has an outstanding 14 percent walk rate, a .272 average, .386 OBP and .752 OPS. His park-adjusted runs created is eight percent above league average. And in 82 career pinch-hitting appearances, Garcia is batting .313 with a .432 OBP and .448 slug. The Cardinals need to keep this good all-around player, and savvy left-handed hitter as part of their mix. Besides, he is clearly better than the 35-year-old Jhonny Peralta.

Aren’t you being a little too hard on Jhonny? He’s had injuries and all… 

In 638 plate appearances since the 2015 All-Star break, Peralta is batting .246 with a .301 OBP and .354 slug for a .655 OPS. Among MLB hitters with 638 PA over that time, Peralta ranks 214th on a list of 227 names in slugging percentage and OPS. He’s been out-slugged by the likes of Jordy Mercer, Jarrod Dyson, Tucker Barnhart and Andrelton Simmons. His HR ratio of one every 48.75 at-bats ranks 185th on that list of 227. And since that 2015 All-Star break, Peralta’s park-adjusted runs created is 23 percent below league average. And over that time, he has a minus 1.4 WAR … meaning that he’s worse than a replacement-level player. This season, in 57 plate appearances, Peralta is batting .189 and all 10 hits have been singles. He’s lost approximately three miles per hour off his swing speed and exit velocity. Not a good sign for an aging player.

Hey, but didn’t Peralta have an impressive 2017 spring training?

Funny how the Cardinals put high value on some spring-training performances — while completely devaluing other, more impressive spring-training performance. Peralta’s spring resurgence was the team’s spin, which pretty much was devoured by the medias in one bite.

Can’t Peralta play multiple positions? That’s a plus, correct? 

Yes, he can. And not very well, either. He’s a minus 6 in Defensive Runs Saved at third base over the last two years, and is a minus 8 DRS at shortstop since 2015. At this point he has the range of a deep freezer that your grandparents keep in the basement.

Whatever happened to the idea of getting Peralta ready to play first base? 

He declined to do that.

Base Running? At least he doesn’t run into foolish outs… 

Since signing with the Cardinals before the 2014 season, Peralta is a minus 9.6 in the Base Running Runs metric. I’ll translate: as Charles Barkley would say, that’s turrible.

Wouldn’t it help to have Peralta’s RH power bat on the bench to use against LH pitchers? 

First of all, the power is kaput unless he runs into a hanging curve or something. And since the 2015 All-Star break Peralta is batting .193 vs. lefties with a .242 OBP and .304 slug. I’m not seeing Eduardo Perez in those numbers.

OK, smart ass … what would be the reasons for keeping Peralta?

I can think of three: (1) Payroll politics; the team doesn’t want to eat the remaining $6.3 million on his contract, which expires after the season. (2) He’s a veteran, which means he’s a Matheny guy. (3) The Cardinals are ambivalent about winning.

But I don’t think the Cardinals’ standards have fallen to this extent.

I could be wrong.

Congratulations, dimwit. You just wasted 1,084 words to say something that could be summed up in one quick sentence: Johnny Peralta can’t play.

Yep. Guilty as charged.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

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