Early Returns On Jhonny Peralta Not Favorable For Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals took a bit of a risk when they signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year $53 million deal in the 2013 off-season since he was coming off a season in which he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. The Cardinals hoped they were getting the Peralta that had hit more than 20 home runs on four occasions and topped 80 runs batted in a like number of times during his nine years spent in the American League with Cleveland and Detroit.
However, the early returns on Peralta have gone wanting as he is hitting only .151 and is currently mired in a slump that has seen him go hitless in his last 21 at bats. Peralta has been particularly woeful in clutch situations as he is hitting .056 (1-18) with runners in scoring situation.
The power that Peralta had demonstrated as a right-handed hitter was also expected to help the Cardinals against left-handed pitching which was something the Redbirds struggled against in 2013 when the team went 19-23 against southpaw hurlers. Unfortunately, Peralta has not accomplished anything against lefties so far; he is 0-12 when facing them.
Things are going so bad for Peralta that some St. Louis fans are actually pining for Pete Kozma; who occupied the shortstop position for the Cardinals last year when he hit .217 with one home run and 35 runs batted in. Kozma was primarily regarded as a good glove man who was never going to hit much, and he did prove to be more than adequate defensively in 2013 as he committed only nine errors in 140 games.
Meanwhile, Peralta has already committed five errors through the Cardinals first 22 games, but the Redbirds knew that defense was not a hallmark of Peralta when they acquired him. Curiously, the St. Louis front office signed Cuban shortstop prospect Aledmys Diaz to an off-season deal shortly after they had inked Peralta to his four-year contract, and the early results compiled by Diaz would seem to indicate that he is quickly figuring out minor league pitching. The 23-year old Diaz is currently hitting .297 with three home runs and 16 runs batted in at the Cardinals Double “A” affiliate in Springfield so it presumably won’t be long before he could be promoted to Triple “A” Memphis which would leave him one step removed from the major league roster.
Given the money they have invested in him the Cardinals front office will no doubt be patient with Peralta, but if he continues to struggle there will likely be an outcry from Redbird nation to try and remedy the situation. St. Louis will be coming off an 11-game road trip beginning Friday when they host NL Central rivals Pittsburgh and Milwaukee; it should be interesting to see how the fans treat Peralta given his lack of production so far this season.