Just ahead of the opener in this weekend’s Cubs-Cardinals series, the Cardinals made a very significant roster move:
Yadier Molina (right thumb tendon strain) has been placed on the 10-day IL retroactive to May 29.
Rookie catcher Andrew Knizner had his contracted purchased from Memphis (AAA) and has been added to our active roster. pic.twitter.com/iT3LFrTswh
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 31, 2019
Molina, who will strain to find something to do this weekend instead of playing baseball, has been solidly below-average at the plate this year, and although he doesn’t necessarily rate as elite defensively anymore, there’s simply no denying his importance to the Cardinals. The way he works with the pitching staff, the way he calls a game, the way he works an umpire, the way he frames, and on and on … it matters. Chagrined as we may be, it matters.
So to be without Molina for this weekend’s series against the Cubs is undoubtedly a blow.
Knizer, 24, is the reason the Cardinals had no problem trading Carson Kelly in the offseason, and is considered by some to be the heir-apparent to Molina in the long-term. He has hit reasonably well at every level in the minor leagues since being a 7th round pick in 2016, though his high-contact, low-power, no-walk approach is the kind we’ve seen flame out often at the big league level. In theory, he shouldn’t make you nervous for this series, but you know how Cardinals call-ups do against the Cubs.
In addition to Knizer available behind the plate, the Cardinals have Matt Wieters, who has raked in limited duty so far this year, but mostly thanks to a flukey high BABIP and HR/FB. He probably does offer more at the plate now than Molina, but I’m not so sure he’s a plus bat, and I doubt he makes up for what is lost when Molina is not available.