Shortstop is more difficult than second base

I really try to be as positive as I can about the Cardinals fan base, as often as I can. When we as a group are attacked as BFIB or that awful Twitter account gets spread around the interwebs like wildfire, I’m quick to remind anyone who will listen that they’re referencing a small subset of the larger whole – something that can be said of many a fan base.

But even I, sometimes, have to respond to the good folks of the metro St. Louis area. And in this case, I choose to do it in classic FJM style.

There were some opinions from folks Tony La Russa would like to manage against in last week’s “Letters” or “Sound Off” at STLToday.com.

Sound Off: Shortstop solutions offered for Cardinals

Ok, first of all, the title is some epic trolling from the editor, as you’ll soon find out. These are patently NOT solutions.

SHORTSTOPS AND STICKS

With Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso’s combined batting average of .222 ranking 29th out of 30 teams, the Cardinals need a new shortstop. But it shouldn’t be Stephen Drew, who hit .254 and carries a big salary. My suggestion would be to switch Matt Carpenter to short and put Kolten Wong at second base.

It sure didn’t take long for this to come up, did it? For reference, the widely accepted defensive scale from least to most difficult: 1B < LF < RF < 3B < CF < 2B < SS < C

So Carpenter has already moved two places on the spectrum, and was an average second baseman defensively. Don’t get me wrong, average is wonderful when coupled with his bat for a second baseman. But shortstop? Please stop.

As for Stephen Drew – first, he was worth ten runs on defense at shortstop, Carpenter couldn’t do that. Second, how do we know Wong could hit .254 in the big leagues?

Also, why do we have John Mabry, with a .263 lifetime average, as our batting coach?

Would you prefer Mark McGwire to come back? At least Mac was a… .263 career hitter. Oops.

Most of the Cardinals’ batters stand too far away from the plate and they don’t know a lot about the strike zone. They see a lot of pitches on the outside corner of the plate for called strikes or swings and misses.

Now you’re going to be the hitting coach? What was your career batting average?

The Cardinals finished 2013 with the third best on-base percentage in all of baseball. Good enough?

And, if they manage to hit it they try to pull the ball, which often results in a soft ground ball and possibly a double play. They also are suckers for balls that start in the middle of the plate and end up in the dirt about a foot off the plate. They probably led the league in check swings that are called strikes.

I’ll let you sort for yourself here, and I can’t get check swing data off-hand for you, but I can tell you that the Cardinals: were in the bottom of the league (23rd of 30) in swings outside the strike zone, in the top ten on contact on said pitches outside the zone, and third overall at total contact on pitches swung at. I’d say their plate approach is fine.

With a better batting coach, we might be able to keep David Freese at third.

[name redacted] • Innsbrook

Wow, you’re all over the place. Maybe if Freese could: hit the ball “better”, stay healthy, take more walks, etc etc he might be able to stay at third?

COULD WONG BE RIGHT AT SHORT?

Oh no.

Why can’t Kolten Wong play shortstop? He seems to have the range and arm to do that.

1B < LF < RF < 3B < CF < 2B < SS < C

With the absence of shortstops on the market, this would solve a lot of problems for us and allow the signing of an impact third baseman.

If the above isn’t enough, why does Wong have to play shortstop to get an impact third baseman? If Wong could hold his own at SECOND then Matt Carpenter can move to third. Wong doesn’t have the arm to move to shortstop, never mind range.

Spring training will determine if Wong can hit, but he would be a perfect lead-off hitter with speed — something we have not seen lately.

What’s wrong with Carpenter at lead-off? No one’s getting the green light anytime soon anyway. And Wong’s going to have to prove a LOT in Spring given his abysmal call-up at the plate in 2013.

We have been somewhat spoiled in Cardinal Nation. We could be Cubs or Astros fans. This team is going to be good for a long time. Management has shown that it is most capable of identifying and filling holes.

[name redacted] • Cedar Hill

Indeed, so let’s just leave the shortstop part to them as well.

So, that’s really where the shortstop stuff ends, but I’m having fun and the remaining two letters are equally entertaining.

PUT CRAIG AT THIRD BASE

If you can play first base, you probably can play third base.

1B < LF < RF < 3B < CF < 2B < SS < C

(I’m getting a lot of play out of this defensive spectrum today.)

Joe Torre did. Why not work out Allen Craig at third base in the offseason?

Actually, Joe Torre started at the most difficult position on the defensive spectrum, catcher. Then moved to third base. Then to first (other than playing first base sparingly when not catching to keep his bat in the lineup – because first base is easiest!).

They will not work Allen Craig out at third base because they have done that before. He came up through the system as a third baseman. It’s why he’s at first now.

If he can handle third, it would answer several of the Cardinals’ issues. It would put an impact bat at the hot corner. It would open up first base for Matt Adams. And it would relieve the congestion in right field.

He can’t handle third, so there’s that. And what congestion in right field? Last I recall, Carlos Beltran is gone, Oscar Taveras might not happen, and then ???

How about it Cardinals?

[name redacted] • Webster Groves

Please no.

MILLER SHOULD HAVE PITCHED

Where, oh where, was Shelby Miller during the run for the ring?

In the bullpen.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny chose to bring in Lance Lynn, who always is questionable under pressure, in Game 6 of the World Series instead of Miller, who might have given the Cards a chance.

By that time Miller hadn’t been in game action for a long time – it would’ve been even less fair to Miller to throw him to the wolves in that moment.

For some reason Miller was quarantined. Matheny never explained why Miller was absent.

Sure he did. Miller had the role of long-relief and/or mop-up but was never needed. By Game 6, he was announced unavailable.

(And fine, I’ll give in for the conspiracy theorists – maybe inning limit, maybe he’s being traded and they didn’t want to risk injury. Or, maybe he just wasn’t deemed best option.)

If Miller offended Matheny or upper management and they punished the team by not playing him, shame on them.

[name redacted] • Imperial

Shame, indeed.

  • JonDoble

    Craig was drafted a shortstop. Why not try him there? #sarcasm

    Though seriously, he’d probably make up for all the runs lost on defense with his offense.

    • PitchersHitEighth

      That’s not a challenge wager I’m willing to make…

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