For the last couple of days, I’ve been talking about different trade options – a lot. I know it’s early in the season, and it’s not even close to the trade deadline. But when I look at the Cardinals’ roster, I get frustrated. This team needs a leadoff hitter. Matt Carpenter sliding to the two-hole would make this team so much better.
Carp is great. I loved what he did in the leadoff role last year. But when I break down the weaknesses in the Cardinals’ lineup, they could be so much better – and drive in so many more runs – if they found a way to bring in a true shortstop with the ability to lead off.
The guy who really fires me up is the youngster in Arizona, Chris Owings, who has a huge future in front of him. He’s able to bat in the leadoff spot, he’s able to get on base, and he’s just able to do a ton of different things in general. Still, a lot of people ask, “Well, how are we going to get him?” I’ll tell you how: We’ve got a plethora of prospects. There are so many prospects that there’s no way all of these guys can play in the big leagues. At some point, you’re going to have to part with some of them. And if you’re going to part with some of them, why not attack the position of greatest need?
You’ve got Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay, Randal Grichuk, Oscar Taveras, Allen Craig and Joey Butler in the outfield alone. In Triple-A, you’ve got Kolten Wong. Then drop down to Double-A, where Aledmys Diaz is raking. You’ve got Jaime Garcia on the comeback trail, Marco Gonzales (yep, another lefty), Tim Cooney and Joe Kelly, who’s working his way back from the DL. You’ve got Tyler Lyons and Greg Garcia currently in the bigs. There are so many different players you have that the flexibility is almost unbelievable.
If you want to improve this roster, I think shortstop is the best spot. And if you can find a way to get a right-handed-hitting shortstop, and he’s capable of being a leadoff hitter, this will lengthen the lineup so much. It would also allow Carpenter, batting second, to have more opportunities to drive in more runs. He racked up 70 RBIs from the leadoff spot in 2013. Imagine how many he could drive in from that No. 2 position. The second slot, of course, isn’t nearly as dangerous without Carlos Beltran in there. But maybe you can slide Carpenter down, add a shortstop. Move Peralta from shortstop to third, and shift Carpenter back to second base.
This is a good idea. Take a deep look at it. At some point, Carpenter’s going to have to go back to second. I love Wong. I think he’s a good player, and he’s got a lot of talent. But think about Peralta and his tricky situation. He may be able to play shortstop this year, but eventually, that four-year contract means that he will move out of the shortstop spot. And when I see him moving, I see him sliding to third base.
So what are you going to do with Carpenter? He’s not going to play left. He’s not going to play right. He’s not going to play center field. You have too many outfield prospects out there. He has to go back to second.
In my eyes, you have to do something. You have to act by going out there and getting a shortstop. Might as well do it now – while you are absolutely loaded with prospects down on the farm and at the big-league level.