Most of the positions are already set for the Cardinals, but a few still remain contested.
At the beginning of the season, we will see the usual suspects around the horn. Matt Carpenter manning 3rd, Jhonny Peralta (or Superfluous H as I like to call him) at short, Kolten Wong at 2nd, hopefully (fingers crossed) Yadier Molina behind the plate, and the young guns in Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty patrolling Center and Right Field. Despite all of these certainties, as well as “Old Man” Matt Holliday in left, there are a few question marks on the field and off.
Let’s dive in:
Matt Adams: 2015 Stats – .240/.280/.377 60 Games
Brandon Moss: 2015 Stats – .226/.304/.407 145 Games
When looking at these numbers, nothing really jumps off the page. Adams pulled up lame from a double early in the season and resulted in grade 4 quad strain. This kept him sidelined for the majority of the season. Moss however looks like he was healthy for the majority of the season due to his game count but numbers can be deceiving. Moss was recovering all season from a hip surgery in the previous off season that limited his training regarding his legs. This could account for the lack of power that many fans have grown accustomed to seeing from him in the past years.
Taking this all into consideration, this spot is anyone’s to claim. Neither of these players are locks or flops necessarily. Adams has trimmed down this past offseason to improve health and endurance for the long and grueling season. He has also improved his swing. Before, he would swing the bat that would cut through the bottom of the zone, making him susceptible to high heat and balls in the dirt. He has now raised his swing to form a more compact and line drive approach to hitting. Moss is a different story. He has changed nothing but has gone back to what made him successful in the first place. He has strengthened his base so that when he makes contact, he can drive the ball. This will allow him to recapture proven power where as Adams is still trying to prove something.
I see both players coming out and putting on a power show. Balls will fly and necks will crane. However, I see Moss maintaining this power over the course of a season based simply on one stat: Exit Velocity. This is the average speed of the ball coming off a player’s bat. Moss ranks near the top in this category in the league. This was one of the reasons why the Cardinals went after him to begin with. Look for Manager Mike Matheny to give the nod to Moss Opening Day.
— viva el birdos (@vivaelbirdos) February 26, 2016
Greg Garcia: 2015 Stats – .294/.391/.364 94 Games
Aledmys Diaz: 2015 Stats – .278/.339/.445 116 Games
This is truly a toss up. Both players have shown promise through the minors while Garcia is the only one with major league experience. Diaz was signed out of Cuba a few years ago and is believed to be the stop gap shortstop to take over the reigns until Edmundo Sosa makes it to the Bigs. Garcia has never been viewed as anything more than a more offensive minded Daniel Descalso. While Diaz has a starting job lined up in the future, the only open spot is for a utility infielder after the departure of flash in the pan, Pete Kozma (Insert Applause). Both players are relatively young at 26 and 25 respectively. They have very different skill sets, one being able to get on base (Garcia) and the other to put the ball in the gap or over the fence occasionally (Diaz). They also can both play all positions for the most part on the field.
I think that this battle will go to Garcia mostly due to his major league experience. Diaz is still questionable at short and could use a little more seasoning. I don’t see the Cardinals using Diaz unless he gets to play everyday due to the intention of making him the starting shortstop in the coming years. Greg Garcia will make the Opening day roster and will serve as a good on-base threat off the bench this year. He will also make spot starts all over the diamond for players taking an off day.
Photo Credit: Chris Trotman-Getty Images
Stats Provided: Baseball Reference, StatCast