St. Louis Cardinals: First Base More Than a Position for “Aging Core”
First base was the talk of the St. Louis Cardinals’ offseason. Who would play it? How would they do?
Ah yes, first base. Many great players have manned the position for the St. Louis Cardinals in the team’s history. Some of the names that come to mind are Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols and Keith Hernandez.
First base served as a trigger word this offseason. The big mystery was who would man the bag. Fans have certainly discovered by now that there’s a rotating carousel of players who can play first base, but who’s the best fit?
If you look back at the last few seasons, Matt Adams has been the guy, but hasn’t necessarily been the guy, if that makes sense. He’s certainly had his ups and downs at the plate, but defensively he actually makes a pretty good case for why he should be at first base.
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Brandon Moss is one of the more recent options the Cardinals have given themselves. A natural outfielder, Moss has done his part to show he can belong. Currently, he leads the team in home runs with six. That doesn’t necessarily make him the top choice though.
You may recall a certain player who no longer plays for the Cardinals cite what he called an “aging core” as a reason for moving out of St. Louis this winter. We don’t have to say names to know who that person is, but first base could actually be a fountain of youth for some of the older players.
The oldest player who made the loudest noise this winter about the position was Matt Holliday. Cardinals’ management continued to call Holliday’s continuous workouts at first base part of his normal routine. However, the fans aren’t that naive.
Holliday hasn’t played much at first base this season, but he’s played enough to show both the fans and manager Mike Matheny that he can play there without giving fans high blood pressure.
Not only can Holliday play first base, he can actually play it well. In four games at first, Holliday has yet to commit and error. He’s also made some pretty good picks from the dirt off of bad throws.
At 37-years-old, Holliday isn’t what you’d call a spring chicken. The idea of him playing first is very intriguing for multiple reasons. First, he doesn’t have to worry about chasing down a substantial amount of fly balls. Second, there’s a growing number of players around the league that have made the switch to prolong their careers.
In a contract year, Holliday realized he could possibly extend his time as a member of the Cardinals just by making the switch. It’s certainly a smart move by the seasoned veteran.
Speaking of seasoned veterans, the Cardinals’ catcher isn’t much of a spring chicken either. Yadier Molina has seen more time at first base in his career than Matt Holliday, but his reasoning as to why is a little different.
Not only can Molina extend his career at first base, he can save his knees too. Being crouched down for nine innings for 162 games a year isn’t exactly what you’d call healthy for your joints. It’s no secret that Molina already deals with knee pain. Of course his thumb is the main concern.
As productive and important Molina’s role is as a field general behind the plate, having him around a few extra years is also important. Plus, the less he’s behind the plate, the less chance he has of getting hit in the hand by a foul tip.
Overall, all the aforementioned make a great case to play first base. Obviously, some players make more sense than others, but it’s the fact the team has options that’s important.
Who do you think makes the most sense at first base? If nobody mentioned above, who should play there?