ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is fond of Nick Stavinoha. He understands Stavinoha's plight. He appreciates Stavinoha's performance at Triple-A Memphis this year. But that's not enough to earn Stavinoha a callup to the Major Leagues this week.
The Cardinals completed their September roster expansion, and Stavinoha was not a part of it despite a Memphis record 109 RBIs. Of course, neither was Andrew Brown or Mark Hamilton, each of whom posted a higher OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) than Stavinoha.
Part of the problem is simple opportunity -- the Cardinals are overstocked with first basemen and corner outfielders already. Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols are going to play just about every day, and when they don't, Allen Craig is clearly first in line for a chance.
To add to that, Stavinoha is not on the 40-man roster, further increasing the complications if the club wanted to add him.
"I think he's a plus on a big league team," La Russa said. "Just got to get the right fit roster-wise and opportunity-wise. His is not that unusual a situation."
Stavinoha will be eligible for Minor League free agency this winter. Given the lack of openings in the Cardinals organization, it appears likely that he will depart.
"He wants to play in the big leagues," La Russa said. "And he's been with us long enough I'm sure he'd prefer to play here. But he deserves to be in the big leagues, wherever he can get the chance. ... I know there's a big league spot somewhere for him. That, he's earned."