The Cardinals, perhaps out of desperation to turn around their sagging offense, have put Matt Carpenter in the lineup at second base.
It makes sense on a lot of levels because, first, second base is the weakest position for St. Louis. Second, Carpenter primarily plays the infield corners. But he's not a big power hitting sort, so his body type and production makes more sense for a middle infielder. Most teams can't afford to sacrifice power by putting a guy who'd hit in the single digits in the home run category if he started the entire season.
I just hope it doesn't come back to bite the Birds making this move in the middle of the season instead of letting Carpenter learn how to play a new position over the off-season and/or during spring training.
It's my opinion that second base is the mentally toughest position to play on the infield because there are so many different responsibilities. On any given play the second sacker could be called on to turn a double play at second base -- or make a play at first 90 feet away in the case of a bunt. There is a lot of footwork to learn and, for a guy who is used to playing a reactionary corner position where he's lucky to have time for a step and a dive, it could be pretty tough to learn how to making a ranging play up the middle and then turn against your momentum and throw.
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The Cardinals apparently decided to make the gamble because Daniel Descalso has not only been pressed into regular service at shortstop with the injury of Rafael Furcal but he has struggled lately to keep his batting average over the .220 mark. Meanwhile, Skip Schumaker hits alright. But he's got terrible range and a tinny glove.
I have to give Carpenter credit because, after watching him in spring training two years ago, I was unimpressed with his glove work at his primary position, third base. He played a lot of balls off to the side and didn't get in good fundamental fielding position. But he's improved by leaps and bounds since then through a lot of hard work.
In short, I think this could be a good move for the Cardinals. Carpenter has a nice bat and the potential to be a guy who gets on base a lot at the top of the batting order. I just question the timing of the move.
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