The Cardinals are struggling right now, as their veterans have been dramatically under-performing this season. The young players, though, have shown early promise. Ignoring player contracts, who should be starting at each position from the entire organization?
This one is relatively easy. Yadier Molina has been the Cardinals’ catcher for years, and despite hitting for a lower average this season, his power numbers are up. If anyone on the team deserves more time to figure out early woes, it is Yadi. Eric Fryer has been serviceable behind him, but Molina is a workhorse and needs few days off. Look for Carson Kelly to join the team later in the season for more depth.
Matt Carpenter is not hitting well this season, and has struggled defensively as well. Whether mental or coincidental, Carpenter seems incapable of hitting outside of his leadoff spot. Jose Martinez has cooled off lately, but that may be due to less playing time. Based purely on performance this season, Martinez should be starting at first. If he begins struggling, Carpenter could regain his position, at worst providing a reset on what has been a slow start thus far for him.
Paul DeJong has burst into the MLB, and has not stopped hitting since. While he has only played in 7 games thus far, his .304 batting average has helped the team keep games close. After absolutely raking in the minor leagues, DeJong has continued in the MLB, and although it is unlikely for him to keep that high of a batting average, he is currently right where he needs to be.Shortstop:
After a fantastic rookie season, Aledmys Diaz has struggled thus far. However, a lack of depth at the position ensures his spot in the lineup every day. Should his struggles continue, Greg Garcia could be placed in the position, however he is viewed more as a utility infielder. That is despite a career .375 OBP, and average defense. He is great to have on the bench, but we have a long way to go before Garcia is starting at shortstop regularly, whether he deserves it or not.
One of the few bright spots thus far for the Cardinals has been Jedd Gyorko, who has followed his 30 home run season with another great one. Inarguably the Cardinals’ best hitter this season, Gyorko has slightly lowered his power production, but has hit .321 this season. What was expected to be a tight race at the beginning of the season has turned into a blowout, with Gyorko outperforming Jhonny Peralta in every category. At this point, it may be time for us to thank Peralta for his good years, and hand Gyorko the reigns for the coming seasons.
Despite cooling off recently, Tommy Pham has been an effective left fielder for the team this season, and with Randal Grichuk’s struggles and demotion, he has seen much more playing time than expected, considering he began the season in Memphis. Should Randal Grichuk further develop his pitch recognition skills, this position could be up in the air. For now though, it is Tommy Pham’s to lose.
Every time Dexter Fowler starts a hot streak, it seems to be short lived as he fades back into his season long struggles. That said, Fowler has shown signs of why the Cardinals paid him to play here, and while he may need to move down the lineup temporarily as he works out his issues, he is still the best option in center field.
This is where things get trickier. Stephen Piscotty has struggled with injuries and family matters, and has thus been unable to establish a rhythm at the plate, while Jose Martinez has hit well and provided a spark plug in several games this season. For now, Stephen Piscotty should start, as the Cardinals look for him to establish a rhythm at the plate. Martinez should become the fourth outfielder, as he can play either Left or Right field.
Largely due to injuries, the right players are playing at most positions. Outside of first base, I agree with how Matheny has been using his players. Once Kolten Wong comes back, it will be interesting to see how DeJong is handled, assuming he continues his strong hitting. The Cardinals have work to do, but the right players are in the lineup for the most part. Carpenter, though, needs to be given time off. His poor performance at the top of the lineup has hurt the Cardinals numerous times in key situations. Likewise, his mediocre defensive performance is no longer carried by the offensive weapon he once was. Giving Martinez the job, at least temporarily, could really do wonders for the team.
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