Cardinals’ in-house first base options


Matt Adams has not necessarily lived up to what we would like him to do as the first baseman for the Cardinals. I would like to see him get a shot and there is a little evidence that suggests he could come back and be effective. However, if that is the case, what should this team do for next season and long term?

The first answer to this is obvious, put Stephen Piscotty at that spot and let him do his thing and become a hitting machine. In terms of defense, Piscotty has shown that he can hold his own at the position. He may not be the best, but he could definitely improve. This will be the likely scenario that the Cardinals use next season if Jason Heyward returns.

However, if Jason Heyward does not return and Piscotty becomes your everyday RF, you then have a hole there. I will cover the different outside players that could replace Heyward on the roster later. However, for now, I want to talk about what the Cardinals can do in-house to address the first base issue.

Option #1

Matt Carpenter

Ok, follow me on this one. Matt Carpenter is not the best defensive third baseman and had a down year there defensively. He carried a -5.4 ultimate zone rating (UZR) there this season compared to his -0.8 UZR there the previous season. (according to Fangraphs)

When Jhonny Peralta signed, we had no idea what we were going to get out of Matt Carpenter in just his second full big league season, and many stated that Peralta was probably going to play SS for the first two years and then move to third for the next two seasons of the deal. Last season, Jhonny shocked the world with his defense at short and posted a 12.0 UZR, he then backed that up this year with a -7.2 UZR (largely due to his -13.6 range runs above average) this season, showing Peralta is declining as a shortstop. John Mozeliak has already talked about getting middle infield help to help spell Peralta, and I have already talked about how Aledmys Diaz could be that guy.

On that note, if Diaz can come up and be a viable option at short offensively and defensively, then I propose that Matt Carpenter could move over to first base where he has plenty of experience playing in his career. That would move Peralta to third, where he has played 1,753 innings in his career and has a career -o.4 UZR (largely due to down year at the position in 2010).

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This could be something that works long term and help balance the offense, by having Piscotty, Carpenter, Diaz, and Peralta all in the lineup. However, if Diaz does not come through offensively or struggles defensively at short, you could be back to square one.

Option #2 

Patrick Wisdom

This one is a long shot for 2015. Wisdom did have a strong June/July as Chris mentioned the other day, however struggled mightily in August with a .167 average and .267 OBP, then totaling just 2 hits in 25 at bats in September, this shows Wisdom still has some learning to do. Wisdom has experience playing third and first in his brief minor league career, and has the potential to be a good hitter, if he can figure it all out.

This could be as simple as putting him at third in place of Carpenter as Wisdom is really good defensively. However, the only way I see this happening this season is if Wisdom starts in AAA and has a really good and consistent first half as opposed to his normal inconsistent .230s average and under .300 OBP.

Option #3

Mike Ohlman

Ohlman is a pretty good offensive player as I have covered in the past and he could be an option at first this coming year or the next year. I know Ohlman is a catcher and hasn’t played much at first (26 games), but it’s time to get the kid some time at the position. He is not likely going to be the catcher any time soon in the big leagues and he will likely get bumped by Carson Kelly at some point for defensive reasons as the primary catcher. However, if Ohlman can continue to come together offensively he could come up at some point next season and fill the hole at first and at backup catcher.

These are just a few options in house for the Cardinals at the first base position. It is likely that this could be an issue even if the Cardinals sign Jason Heyward. Especially with Matt Holliday declining slightly and his contract being up for a team option next season, his position is eventually going to be Piscotty’s which again creates a hole for the team at first if Adams doesn’t perform.

Tomorrow, we will look at a few options to potentially replace Heyward and fill in for Piscotty at first, or keep Piscotty at first and take Heyward’s place in right.

Who do you want to get a shot at first base?

Next: Three possible rookie phenoms for 2016