Doug V

I thought I’d take a look at how some of our off-season acquisitions have started the season, starting with our (sort of) Japanese import Miles Mikolas.

So far Mikolas has had two starts, both against the same opponent, the Milwaukee Brewers. One start was home and one was up north in Milwaukee.

The stat lines from the two starts actually seem very similar. He went 5.2 innings in the first start, 6.1 in the second, with four runs allowed in each game. Mikolas struck out 5 in both games and didn’t give up a walk in either performance. He also gave up a similar amount of hits: seven in the first, eight in the second.

The only real difference between the two games was that he gave up three homers in the first game and none in the second. I’m going to say, until proven otherwise, that the three homers were simply first start jitters. The man hadn’t pitched in the majors in a few years and had a new contract to justify after all.

Added together, Mikolas currently sports a 6.00 ERA with a 1.250 with a neutral WAR.

Noe this is admittedly a small sample size and he’ll likely settle down as the season goes on, but let’s play this out: Mikolas makes 7.750,000 a year for 2 years under his contract. Is that fair value for a starter with a 5.00+ ERA, neutral WAR and a slightly above average WHIP? Probably not.

However, last year, we had a starter with a 5.00+ ERA and a 1.50 WHIP who made a much larger salary (19,500,000) in Adam Wainwright, who had a 4.62 ERA in 2016, meaning his stats last year may not have been a fluke, whether there injuries involved or not. Wainwright is slated to make the same salary this year too. In addition, Waino got hammered in his first start this year. Regardless of whether he was rushed back for the home opener or not, an ugly start is an ugly start.

By that token, Mikolas is a bargain.

Now, things may reverse themselves and Waino becomes the Waino of old (seems unlikely) while Mikolas stays who he is, but right now, based on that admittedly narrow comparison, Mikolas is a bargain.

As always, thanks for reading.

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Hello there guys. Been a while. Like the Cards, I got off to a slow start this season.

Last night though, the Cardinals were full speed ahead, thanks to a brilliant outing by Carlos Martinez, who struck out 10 Milwaukee Brewers in 8 and a third innings and didn’t allow a run. More performances like that from Carlos and he’ll firmly ascend to the mountain of being an ace.

Helping Carlos’ cause was Yadier Molina, who in addition to his usual excellent game planning and being a second pitching coach on the field, launched a homer, his third of the season in only six games. I realize it could be just a hot start (though aside from the homers he’s only hitting .261 with a .282 OBP) but that is the fun of early season musings like this, the what if scenarios.

Yadi’s career high in homers was 22, back in 2012. From 2013 until 2016 he didn’t hit more than 12. Last year however, he hit 18, the second most of his career, to go along with a career high of 82 RBI. Now, we all know that just about *everybody* homered more last year and the overall total of homers hit, 6105, was the most ever in a single season, so it makes sense to ask whether how many of Yadi’s homers were Yadi himself, and how many were just balls traveling farther, whether it be to balls being different, batters uppercutting their swings more, etc.

Let’s start with the basics: the ball can’t leave the yard if Yadi doesn’t hit it. His .273 average last year wasn’t his best ever, but the man is a career .284 hitter, which is pretty solid, and often gets lost when people talk about him, as they generally focus on his defense and his ability to guide pitchers (and the team) when he’s on the field. Yadi is a regular field general.

The key, in my mind, is patience. Yadi only had a .310 OBP last year, 37 points above his batting average, due to taking only 28 walks, his fewest since 2014. He does however have a career .336 OBP, which isn’t the worst mark I’ve seen, but it’s not exactly Matt Carpenter’s or Dexter Fowler’s either.

Even last night his homer was on a pitch out of the zone and the swing looked more like a golf swing than a traditional baseball swing. Obviously it got the job done. So far this season though, he’s only drawn one walk in six games. Pitchers notice trends quickly, so they will try to get him chase pitches out of the zone until he stops chasing.

I think he’ll hit 20 or more homers. Whether he’ll have a good batting average and OBP to go with that is another story. As I said above, it’ll come down to patience.

As always, thanks for reading.

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Now that I got my FA rant out of the way yesterday, my mind wandered to the other side of the fence. Specifically, the big class of 2019. What if Bill DeWitt suddenly decided to open his wallet, or found 2 Billion dollars of pocket change under his couch? Who would fit our team in this little money is no object pipe dream?

One thing to note though: I’m just not randomly signing guys, but rather going off what the teams current strengths and weaknesses are.

The biggest names are, of course, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. As much as I like Harper, I like our outfield as is, so I’m going to dismiss him right away. We traded away Stephen Piscotty because we had a surplus, so it makes little sense to flip around and sign Harper. Don’t get wrong, he’d look nice out there, but I think we’ll be just fine with Dexter Fowler/Marcell Ozuna/Tommy Pham trio for the next few years as all 3 are locked up for a while, with Ozuna the first to be out of contract in 2019.

Machado is a different story. We have a good shortstop in Paul DeJong (provided he follows up his great rookie season with a solid campaign.) Third base, however, is up in the air right now, as Gyorko could be a free agent after 2019 if his option isn’t exercised. With the money he’ll make, I’m sure Machado will happily head back to third. Just imaging him along with a pair of other 26 or under players in the infield with DeJong and Kolten Wong (who hit .285 with a .376 OBP last year) makes me very happy. (I’d love Brian Dozier. Who wouldn’t? I’m comfortable with Wong there long term though.)

There are also other options there. Discount the age factor, and you could go after Josh Donaldson, who the Cards have been longing after for years. He’s 32, but he also hit 33 homers with a solid .270/385/.559 line which indicates he’s not declining just yet. He seems like a guy who might age more gracefully than others. And if you want to toss age entirely out the window, there’s always Adrian Beltre. Beltre is 38 and had his worse year in a while last year, but he still put up a .312/.383/.532 slash line with 17 homers in 389 plate appearances, which were his fewest since his rookie year. You could bet that was an outlier and give him a shot. Plus, he’s likely to sign for far fewer years than the other two, giving us a chance to find a long term option via our farm or trade.

Since I view 3B as our biggest hole on offense (I’m comfortable with Matt Carpenter at first, and we also have Jose Martinez there as a long term option. He had a .309/.379/.518 slash line with 14 homers in 307 plate appearances), let’s move on to pitching. Adam Wainwright is a free agent after this season, and barring sentiment and a drastic reversal of his decline, I’d be happy to let him walk, so let’s start with starters.

The biggest name here is Dallas Keuchel. He had a solid year last year, but he’s more of a finesse pitcher and is 30 years old who’ll want a long term contract. Nobody jumps out at me otherwise, until you look at a guy who isn’t officially listed as a free agent for next off-season yet but might as well be as he has a player opt-out: Clayton Kershaw. With all due respect to Dallas Keuchel, I’m going with Kershaw. How could you not?

As for relievers, there are a lot, so I’ll focus on the closer position. Several interesting names here, like Kelvin Herrera and Zach Britton, but again the best guy is an opt-out, Kenley Jansen. While it’s unlikely that he doesn’t re- sign with the Dodgers, he’ll be an interesting option if he doesn’t. He’ll be 31 at the beginning of the 2019 season, but given that he was a 3.1 WAR reliever last year, he might be another guy that ages gracefully. I like Luke Gregerson, but the closer position can be very volatile so bringing in a stable guy like Jansen (221 saves in the past 6 years if I remember correctly) is a no brainer.

Again, this is all fantasy, but it never hurts to dream a little, no?

 

As always, thanks for reading.

 

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Thoughts On The MLB Offseason.

First, let me say I love baseball. I grew up with it, and I enjoy it immensely.

Having said that, I must say I think baseball players are vastly overpaid, which is why I’ve really enjoyed this off-season.

The team that did the best this off-season, in my opinion, was the Minnesota Twins, who spent little but filled multiple holes. (More detail here in this ESPN article Twins Off-Season.)

The worst deals, by far, were the Eric Hosmer and Jake Arrieta deals. San Diego was basically bidding against itself, and the Arrieta deal, while short at 3 years, paid a declining pitcher too much at 25 million dollars per year. I may have done the same amount of years, but with the last two years as team options. Make him earn those last two years.

What I could do with just one of those years of 25 million dollars.

Let’s reduce that even further though. The rookie minimum is 550,000 if I remember correctly.

Here’s what I could do with that amount:

  1. Pay off my mortgage
  2. Pay off my wife’s student loans
  3. Pay off my credit card.
  4. Get my wife a new car.
  5. Have money left over for multiple vacations.

The thing that seems to have been forgotten about baseball (and sports in general) is that they are entertainment. Sure, life would be boring without them, but they are not a necessity. Sports are not food, they are not water. They do not sustain us.

As I said, I grew up with baseball. There was a period, however, that I strayed from it, not watching a game for many years. I lived. I found other things to with my time. I met my wife, who as a nurse, performs a much more necessary job than an athlete but makes far, far less than the rookie minimum.

Next off-season, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will be free agents and likely get the biggest contracts ever. Just the idea of those contracts makes me cringe.

Just some food for thought.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

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Player Watch: Miles Mikolas

Yes, I’m alive. Going to try to be more active as the season gets closer. One post a time though.

Anyways, one of the more interesting players in camp is Miles Mikolas. The Cards signed him to a 2 year/15.5 million dollar deal in the off-season.

Mikolas had a had a brief and uninteresting career in the big leagues before heading overseas to Japan, where he had success. That success is what prompted the Cards to sign him.

Personally, regardless of production, I like the deal. Compared, to say, a money sinkhole that a deal for a Jake Arrieta deal would be, 2 years at 15.5 million is very affordable, and if he washes out, it’s not as big of a blow as Arrieta struggling would be. The Cards have learned from the Mike Leake fiasco and are managing their money much more wisely.

Mikolas started on Sunday and got hammered to the tune of 6 runs on 7 hits in 1.2 innings.

My thoughts on that are:

It’s one start, and a super small sample size at that. Don’t burn the man at the stake until he has a much larger sample size to look at, which may not be until the regular season. Spring training starts, even good ones, are usually pretty short, as everyone tries to get their work in.

Mikolas, with his guaranteed contract, isn’t competing for a job on the big league club, so he’s probably not throwing his best stuff, as he doesn’t have to. He’s just getting loose and ready for the upcoming season. No reason to risk injury before the season even starts.

The guy is transitioning back to the majors after 3 years in japan. Whether you think the competition over their is lesser equal, or even superior (which is a discussion for another time) it’s *different*. Getting used to being over here again, may take some time, and that length of time may well spill over into the regular season. Give the man time and space and let him breathe.

As I said, I like the deal, mainly for it’s short term commitment. I consider it smart.

As always, thanks for reading.

 

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This off-season, there are several players still available in in free agency who could help the Cardinals: Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Plus there’s that never ending rumor that the Cardinals have been trying to get Josh Donaldson.

What do these three players have in common? They all play corner infield spots, possible homes for Matt Carpenter.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Carp and that I would hate to see him traded or reduced to a bench role.

I’ll set aside the fan in me though and try to look at it from a GM’s perspective by comparing the three and Carpenter.

This all assumes two things:

1) We keep Jedd Gyorko. By the way, I can easily see Gyorko sliding over to 1B to part of the rotation there if we get either of the two 3B options mentioned here. He has played all over the infield. Not many reps at 1B, but I think he’d do ok there.

2) Carpenter gets moved after we get any of the three. (I could see him being part of the Donaldson deal)

First up, we have Eric Hosmer. He’s a 4 time Gold Glove winner at 1B coming off of a career year where he hit .318 with a .385 OBP and homered and 25 times. Plus he’s entering his age 28 season, which is the prime of a players career.

As for negatives, well, his power isn’t what we’ve come from 1B these days, though his D offsets that a little.

Another issue is consistency. He has a bit of an even year/odd year thing going on. In 2012, 2014 and 2016, he didn’t hit above .270 and didn’t have an OBP above .328. S 2013, 2015, and 2017, his BA was .297 or higher each year, and his OBP was higher than .350 each year.

Given how much he’s going to make (thank you Scott Boras), I’d want someone I know is going to be consistent year in and year out. Plus, next year is an even year.

Next, we have Mike Moustakas.

Moustakas hit 38 homers and like Hosmer, is in his prime. Those 38 homers were a career high though. After those 38, his next highest is  22. Plus, even with all of those homers, he was only worth 1.8 WAR (Carpenter was worth 2.9) Part of that is, even though he hit a decent .270, he only had an OBP of .314. Plus, unlike Hosmer, he’s not a GG at his position. He’s a better fielder than Carpenter, but all of these guys are.

Even with those homers, last year wasn’t his best year. 2015 was by a longshot. In fact, he’s only had two years where he’s had a WAR above 2: 2012, 2015. Again, I’d like more consistency please.

Finally, there’s Donaldson.

Donaldson is a former MVP and he hit .270 with 33 homers and 78 RBI’s. The problem here is he’s entering his age 32 season. Historically the decline phase of a player’s career starts around their age 32 or 33 seasons, so while he was productive last year, how long will he remain so?  Plus, the cost to acquire him in a trade won’t be cheap. Toronto has been reluctant to move him (we’ve been banging on their door for a while now) so we’d likely have to make them an offer they can’t refuse, a deal that’s lopsided in their favor. No thanks.

In the end, I think we should keep Carpenter and our assets rather than try our luck on any of the three listed above.

Now Manny Machado next off-season? That’s another story…

As always, thanks for reading.

 

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(Editor’s note: Perhaps due to Doug’s vacation, he seemed to miss the fact that Sierra went in the Marcell Ozuna deal.  We are sorry for the error.)

Hope everybody had a good holiday break!

Like everybody else, I was excited by the trade to acquire Ozuna.

I will miss Stephen Piscotty, as I think he’s a prime bounce back candidate next season.

But an outfield consisting of Tommy Pham, Ozuna and Dexter Fowler has the potential to be very, very good.

My question is what happens after those three? Who’s the primary fourth outfielder?

I’m afraid it’s going to be Randal Grichuk.

While Grichuk is admittedly still young at 25, I think we have two younger guys who could use the AB’s: Harrison Bader and Magnueris Sierra.

Grichuk did hit 22 homers last year, but he also struck out 133 times in 442 plate appearances. I realize strikeouts are up overall as more players try to hit the ball from the USA to Japan every AB, but that’s still a lot of strikeouts. His average was also low, at .238, along with a poor OBP of .285.

My concern is since Grichuk is the known commodity, he’ll become Matheny’s “guy” and swallow up all the AB’s that could go to the kids, who I think may have higher upside than Grichuk.

Bader, for example, did well in AAA last year. He hit .285 with a .347 OBP, and hit 20 homers. He did struggle in a big league cameo last year, hitting .235 in 85 AB’s, but that is a small sample size and you shouldn’t read too much into it.

The same can be said of Sierra, only from the other end of the spectrum. While Bader needs more AB’s to show he’s the hitter he was in the minors, Sierra needs more AB’s to prove what he did in his cameo was legit. In 60 AB’s, Sierra hit .317 with a .359 OBP, not bad for a 21 year old. He only hit .269 in AA though, so he needs more AB’s to prove that wasn’t just a small sample size fluke.

So will the kids get the AB’s they need? We’ll see. It’s important to note that sometimes Matheny does in fact go with the kids. Paul DeJong, for example, got his chance last year and made the most of it. I hope they two young outfielders do, as I don’t view Grichuk as the long term solution here. I think he’s more valuable as trade bait at this point.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

 

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What Willie McGee has to offer…

Hey there folks, I’m back from vacation. I had a good time, and it felt good to get away. On to blogging.

A while back, the Cards hired an old friend of the organization, former player Willie McGee, to be a coach. Willie’s role wasn’t specified.

A little disclaimer: I grew up in the 80’s, and Willie was my favorite player, but for reasons other than stats. I liked him because he was like me. I was this super skinny kid with a long neck, and there was a player who looked like me in regards to physical build, not necessarily like what you’d imagine a baseball player to look like. he was my Altuve.

As a player, Willie flashed a variety of skills. He won an MVP, a Silver Slugger, 2 batting titles, 3 Gold Gloves, and stole 352 bases. He didn’t hit many homers (79 in 2201 games) but power wasn’t emphasized as much in the 80’s, when he won the MVP with 10 homers (though his slugging percentage was over .500 thanks to a league leading 18 triples.) His career average was .295, with lifetime of .333, so he was more of a contact hitter than an obp guy.

That wide range of skills opens a lot of doors for him coaching wise. Willie could work with our outfielders on their defense, giving them positioning tips, etc. He could be a baserunning coach, giving tips there as well. Kolten Wong has some speed, having stolen 20 bases a few years back. Willie could help him get back in touch with his inner speedster.

The most interesting role for him though would be as a hitting coach, simply because he doesn’t fit, but in a good way.

Willie is a throwback to a bygone era where players didn’t need power to be successful. he wasn’t a power hitter coming up, and he didn’t try to change that. That’s a mindset current players don’t necessarily allow themselves to have. They change who they are in order to succeed, and sometimes become worse players in the process.

As a hitting coach, he could help players work with who they already are, using himself as an example. He could help them become the best version of themselves as a hitter.

He’d certainly be a better choice for the job than John Mabry, who’s the ultimate “Those who can’t, teach” hitting coach.

Just some food for thought on our new coach. Welcome back Willie, from one skinny guy with a long neck to another.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

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Why Release Rosenthal?

The Cards yesterday cut Trevor Rosenthal, who had reclaimed the closers job in our bullpen before getting injured.

Rosenthal needed Tommy John surgery, which makes him a risk, as there are no guarantees he’ll be the same pitcher when he gets back.

Plus he made 6.4 million dollars last year, not exactly pocket change.

Still, given what closers have been getting on the FA market (Mark Melancon signed a monster deal last off-season, Greg Holland might decline a roughly 17 million dollar qualifying offer to test the FA market) it is cheap.

Why not wait it out? After all, you gave a qualifying offer to a guy who *did* overcome Tommy John (Lance Lynn), so we have evidence that recovery and regaining the ability to perform at a high level is possible right on our own team. If Rosie signs with another team, recovers and performs, all for what’s considered reasonable money these days (don’t get me started on salary inflation) we’re gonna look a little silly, especially if we blow our money on a guy like Holland.

I’m just afraid the Cards haven’t learned anything from the Mike Leake and Brett Cecil disasters and will go out and throw money at a guy like Holland. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe, given how volatile relievers can be, that they aren’t worth that kind of money. Maybe a rich team like the Dodgers or Yankees can get away with spending that kind of money on a one inning pitcher like Aroldis Chapman, but a middle market team like the Cards needs to be smarter with its money.

I realize that the bullpen has gained more prevalence these days. People who didn’t already know that saw it watching the playoffs. I’m not sure offhand if any starter made it into the 9th inning, maybe Justin Verlander. Otherwise it was bullpen, bullpen, and more bullpen.

That, of course influence other teams to follow that path. Playoff success can be a Siren’s song to other teams. believe the Cards shouldn’t listen to that song. Don’t go out and blow money on a closer (or an expensive setup reliever) guys. There are better places to use our money.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

 

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2018 Bullpen

To me, the bullpen is always one of the more interesting areas to evaluate on a yearly basis, as it tends to be volatile and fluctuate on a yearly basis. Teams often promote or acquire releivers both in the offseason and in season. The Yankees for example, signed Aroldis Chapman during the offseason, and then traded for David Robertson during the season. Those guys, along with the rest of the Yankees dynamic bullpen, have that team banging on the World Series door.

As for the Cards, well going into the 2017 season, our big acquisition in the ‘pen was Brett Cecil, formerly a Blue Jay. Cecil signed for 4 years and 30.5 Million. I was skeptically of the signing when it happened, and a 2-4 record with a 3.88 era in 76 innings seems to have proved me right. Hopefully next year will be better for Cecil, but so far the signing looks like a mistake.

that sets the tone for the bullpen overall, as it was disappointing as a whole. Incumbent closer Sueng-hwan Oh was disappointing, getting 20 saves but posting a 4.10 era.

There was some good parts, like Trevor Rosenthal looking a little better this year, with 76 K’s in 47 innings (leading to a shiny K rate of 14.3 per 9 innings.) and not terrible 3.40 era. Rosie got injured though and had the dreaded Tommy John surgery, removing him from the equation until the middle of the 2018 season at earliest.

John Brebbia was also a nice surprise, with a 2.44 era in 50 games and 51.2 innings. He also had a respectable 8.9 K’s per 9 innings. He also made his debut at the age of 27 though, so if he was that good, why wasn’t he brought up earlier?

Another nice surprise was Juan Nicasio, who came over late in the season, and got 4 saves in a brief 11 inning cameo. Overall, combined between the Pirates and Cardinals, he had a 2.65 era in 72.1 innings and a K rate of 9 per 9 innings. 3017 was easily the best year of his career though, and he sports a career era of 4.55.

So what does all of this mean for 2018?

For starters, I’d remove Oh from the closer spot for good, and see if Nicasio can build off of last season. Slot Oh into middle relief and make him earn a setup spot. Put Brebbia into a setup role.

I’d slot either Tyler Lyons or Sam Tuivailala In the second setup spot and use the other guy as our use more often middle reliever, and mix and match with the rest of the bullpen.

As for free agency, well, after the Brett Cecil disaster, I’d be reluctant to go that route.

Greg Holland is interesting, but he faded in the second half and ended the season with a 3.61 era. Coors Field or not, that’s high for a closer. plus he is no spring chicken at the age of 31 and missed the entire 2016 season due to injury.

I’d pass on Holland and stick with our internal options. We don’t want another Cecil fiasco.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

 

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Sentimental Fool…

I was having a discussion with a colleague a few weeks back about (has it been that long?) my previous post. Specifically, we were talking about first base and Matt Carpenter.

I would say, Yadier Molina and Carp are my two favorite players on the team. Yadi isn’t going anywhere, but Carp…

Carp mainly plays three positions: 1B, 2B, and 3B.

We have Jose Martinez, who did a great job this season, to possibly man 1B for the future. Kolten Wong is our 2B.

That leaves 3B.

Jedd Gyorko had a solid year last year, hitting .272 with 20 homers and a solid .341 OBP. The 20 homers, however, were a drop from the previous year, when he hit 30 in a similar number of plate appearances. (438 in 2017, 481 in 2017, so more appearances, less homers.)

Carp, despite hitting .241, over 30 points less, dwarfs Gyorko’s OBP having a .384 OBP. He also hit 3 more homers than Gyorko, though admittedly in more plate appearances. Roughly 140 in fact. But power, as mentioned above, isn’t the key to Carp’s game.

Good OBP skills are perhaps my favorite offensive trait, not the ability to hit homers, or steal bases, or any other offensive skill. My favorite non-Cardinal is probably Joey Votto, due to his OBP skills. The man had an insane .454 OBP this year, which is only the 3rd best OBP of his career. (The best is a .474 OBP in 2012, a year which he finished a mind-bogglingly 14th in the MVP vote.)

Anyways, back to Carpenter and Gyorko. Gyorko’s OBP this year was easily a career high. His 2nd best was a. 306 OBP last season. By contrast, this was Carp’s second best, and third of .380 or higher.

Both men play the same positions, so having the pair of them is redundant, especially if Jose Martinez is for real. If it obvious yet, my vote would be to trade Gyorko. I like Carp’s skills better, and the intangibles point in his direction as well: He came up with the team, whereas Gyorko came to us via a trade with San Diego. Carp has also emerged as part of the leadership group of the team, along with Yadi and Adam Wainwright.

So if you really have to trade one, keep Carpenter and trade Gyorko.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

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2018 Infield

Compared to the rest of the team, the infield is actually the most stable unit, in my opinion, heading into next season.

Currently, Baseball Reference has it listed this way:

1B) Matt Carpenter
2B) Kolten Wong
SS) Paul DeJong
3B) Jedd Gyorko
C) Yadier Molina

The biggest question in my mind is shortstop.

Is Paul DeJong legit? Was Aledmys Diaz a flash in the pan?

Looking at his minor league stats, DeJong had shown some pop in the minors, hitting 23 homers last season in AA, then hitting 13 in 190 PA’s this season at AAA. Now, of course, he has 24 homers for the big league club. His overall slash line is .280/.320/.523. I’d like the plate discipline to better, but given his success this season, that’s nitpicking. Still, it is something to watch going forward.

DeJong, of course, is this year’s version of Aledmys Diaz. Diaz who was recalled recently, was a stud last year, declined this year, having a .263/.295/.399 slash line while not being the best defensive SS. That opened up SS for DeJong, who has a solid grip on it now. I wonder though if the Diaz of last year was just a flash in the pan? He’d never hit .300 in the minors, but his minor league career was relatively brief at just two seasons, so I’m not really sure. What I do know is, unless DeJong regresses next year, he has a lock on the position unless Diaz turns into Ted Williams on offense or Ozzie Smith on defense. Otherwise, Diaz is now a utility infielder for the club going forward.

The other question I have is first base.

Obviously, Matt Carpenter is the incumbent, and rightfully so, but Jose Martinez has had a very good season, with 13 homers in 289 PA’s and an overall slash line of .309/.378/.516, rightfully earning more playing time. Still, I feel bad for Carpenter. with 3 straight seasons of 3 WAR or better and a career .378 OBP, he’s earned a permanent position but seems to bounce around the infield at the Cardinals whim. He handles it well, and his versatility can be beneficial (see Ben Zobrist) but I can’t help but wonder if he wouldn’t mind having a permanent home. With Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong both doing well, either Carpenter or Martinez has to sit. At the very least it gives us depth and flexibility, and if either Wong or Gyorko struggles, Carpenter can jump right in.

Catcher is Yadier Molina’s until he retires.

 

All in all, I think the infield is in pretty good shape for next season.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

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