Over the weekend the Cardinals optioned center-field prodigy Victor Scott II to Triple A Memphis. As the days dwindled in spring training you could see this coming. People In High Places within the organization were dropping hints, signaling the imminent decision on Scott. The media narrative began to change. The official announcement came on Saturday. It was anticlimactic.

I understand why the Cardinals made this choice. Scott is inexperienced, even for a minor leaguer. The left-handed hitting Scott is still trying to enhance his power against lefty pitchers. He should learn and benefit from going against Triple A pitchers. The Cardinals can use the highest level of the minors to monitor Scott on a daily basis, see how he adapts, and get a more comprehensive read on his MLB readiness.

From Scott’s standpoint, Memphis provides a platform for the center fielder to reaffirm his impressive talent and speed up the timetable for his major-league debut. While he’s there, Scott can work on his all-around game — especially on offense — and become a better version of himself until the Cardinals call him up.

I appreciate the logic here. As I mentioned, I understand the thinking. But I also have a few questions.

1) The Cardinals had one of the worst defensive outfields in the majors last season. They also regressed in their baserunning performance, dialing back on their aggressiveness and failing to take advantage of the new rules that promote base stealing.

Scott is a sensational, award-winning defender in center. He’s a special runner who swiped more than 112 bases at three levels last season – Class A, Double A and the Arizona Fall League. Scott’s most exceptional strengths are a custom fit to improve two Cardinal weaknesses. So doesn’t it make sense to go with him?

2) For years now, there’s been too much redundancy in the St. Louis outfield. Too many of their outfielders had a similar skill set and offense-defense profile. Scott is different. He is much different. The Cardinals don’t have a player who can do what Scott does best. Scott would not be more of the same. He would steal more bases than any Cardinal. More than anyone on this team, he would sprint to pick up extra bases when teammates get hits or put the ball in play. Scott would produce more infield hits than any Cardinal, use the bunt as a weapon more than any Cardinal, and cover more outfield acreage than any Cardinal. This combination would uplift and energize a team that’s been so predictable offensively and defensively. So why not take advantage of it?

3) If Scott performs well, and confidently handles Triple A baseball with minimal stress and difficulty, then how soon would he be promoted to the big club? Scott had an outstanding camp. You couldn’t have asked him — realistically — to do much more. Despite all of his good qualities and unique (to this team) skills, the Cardinals placed Scott in the minors to begin the regular season even with two outfielders (Tommy Edman, Lars Nootbaar) on the Injured List. If Scott couldn’t make a borderline-contending club that’s missing two starting outfielders – then how exactly would the rookie receive regular playing time after Edman and Nootbaar return?

Manager Oli Marmol and the front office are committed to starting Edman in center instead of using him as a position-switching, all-purpose defender. The bosses want Nootbaar in left. Jordan Walker is the right fielder. If the three OF starters are healthy, Dylan Carlson becomes the fourth outfielder. The outfield picture also has Brendan Donovan, Alec Burleson and Michael Siani.

Remember, Scott is a center fielder. Among those I mentioned here, all except Walker, Burleson and Donovan are interchangeable. Those three are limited to a corner outfield spot. But even with that consideration the Cardinals have several outfielders that can play center: Edman, Carlson, Siani and Nootbaar. Depth is good. But there’s a big difference between depth and clutter. 

OK, what if the four busiest outfielders – Nootbaar, Edman, Walker, Carlson – are doing a good job defensively and putting up above-average offense? Where’s the space for Scott in the regular-player role the Cardinals want as a condition for his promotion? If the club stays true to that principle, where’s the room for Victor? And there’s always the possibility of Donovan playing more than anticipated in left field.

Carlson earned credibility – and the temporary starting job in center – by scorching the ball hard in spring training. But what happens if his bat chills? And if Walker has too many misadventures in right again, does it really change anything? Walker won’t be moved to a full-time DH spot.

(This is where the fantasy GMs start concocting feverish Paul Goldschmidt trade scenarios, even though the Cardinals have no desire to trade Goldy … because they need him to win in 2024. This is the final season of his St. Louis contract. But even if they were open to the idea of trading Goldy it wouldn’t be a consideration unless they’re out of contention and draw interest in the future Hall of Fame first baseman. By the way, Walker has never played first base in pro baseball. Goldschmidt is having a bad exhibition-game season, but that doesn’t matter. Regular-season baseball matters.)

When Nootbaar and Edman return, the Cardinals will have their usual heavy-traffic congestion in the outfield. They claim to hate logjams, only to go ahead and create more gridlock.

I don’t know what this means for the timing of Scott’s graduation to the majors. I’m not trying to be cold here, honest. But it may take yet another round of debilitating outfield injuries to get Scott to St. Louis.

Thanks for reading …


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.