Cardinals position players report to camp today. And the guy I am most excited to see is not super prospect Oscar Taveras or young hurler Shelby Miller.
I am interested the most in seeing what kind of second baseman Matt Carpenter has crafted himself into over the off-season.
Carpenter, who began his career as a third sacker but worked at first base and in the outfielder corners last season to increase his opportunities for playing time, was asked by St. Louis manager Mike Matheny to try his hand over the winter at learning to play in the middle infield.
The reason I am so excited about the idea is because the Cardinals haven't had a dynamic bat at second base for several years. While there is much to worry about with the St. Louis pitching rotation, putting Carpenter at second would turn a very good Redbirds offense into potentially a great one. Plus it would allow versatile defender Daniel Descalso the opportunity to be a super sub who could give all four infielders a day off if needed or come in as part of a double switch.
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If Carpenter proves capable of playing second base every day and shortstop Rafael Furcal is healthy, the Birds will have an offense filled with a legitimate threat at every spot.
One potential lineup with the players' statistical averages over the last three years:
SS Furcal (S) .267/7/40
CF Jay (L) .300/8/44
LF Holliday (R) .302/26/93
RF Beltran (S) .279/20/69
1B Craig (R) .300/17/66
3B Freese (R) .295/11/57
C Molina (R) .295/14/68
2B Carpenter (L) .283/6/34
There are likely no MVP candidate in that batting order. But there's nobody in there who's a candidate to be picked on. With the way he's hit the last couple of years, Molina could easily justify hitting fifth and Freese could, too. But I moved them down because of their lack of foot speed to try to avoid rally-killing double plays.
I think manager Mike Matheny is likely to switch things all over the place with Carpenter batting eight some days and second on others. He could also hit sixth or seventh depending on who is playing. Furcal was installed in his customary lead-off spot in hopes that he's 100 percent. But Jon Jay has done a fine job in the first spot in the order. With Carpenter around, Furcal could hit eighth if his bat isn't there with Carpenter moving up to second.