St. Louis Cardinals: Pre-Winter Meetings 2017 Position Predictions
Ready for this? I actually predict a few changes here so let’s just jump around the horn. If you are interested in the catching position, I’m saving this one for the pitchers and catchers slide.
I predict that Matt Carpenter will be the everyday first baseman for the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals. In forty-five games at first base in 2016, Carpenter held a fielding percentage of .997 and a 1.0 UZR. While not a top dollar first baseman, Carpenter will serve the Cardinals well in this position.
I predict that Matt Adams will not be with the team in 2017, so, therefore, players such as Yadier Molina and Jedd Gyorko will spell backup duties for first base. Others like Jose Martinez can also help Carpenter at first. To this tune, Molina played two games at first in 2016, Gyorko played eleven games at first in 2016, and Martinez played twenty-three games at first in the minors in 2016.
I predict that Kolten Wong and Gyorko will split time at second base. Of these two, I feel that Wong will get the lion’s share of playing time in this position unless his stats slide as they did too frequently in 2016. That said, I do agree with the masses who feel that Wong needs everyday play to improve his abilities.
In 2016, Wong appeared at second in only eighty-eight games. Gyorko appeared at second in forty-six games. Wong earned a 4.6 UZR at second in 2016 and Gyorko earned a 4.9. These are very good second basemen numbers and I suspect we will be pleased with their time in 2017.
The left side of the infield brings thoughts of change to me. I predict that Aledmys Diaz will, for sure, own the left side of the infield but I predict that he will play at both short stop and third in 2017. That’s right, I think the St. Louis Cardinals would do well to consider Diaz as a solution to the aging and very likely to-be-traded Jhonny Peralta. To that end, I predict that Peralta is not with the Cardinals in 2017.
So here it is: I predict that Diaz will be the starting third baseman on the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals with Andrelton Simmons manning short stop. Equally I predict that Diaz will play short stop often with Gyorko sliding over to third base in these games.
Should the St. Louis Cardinals really add Simmons? In 2016, Simmons earned a 15.4 UZR at short stop while Diaz earned a -8.4 UZR. Improvement immediately. Offensively, Diaz batted .300/.369/.510 while Simmons batted .281/.324/.366 so the Cards need to keep Diaz in the lineup. This is one reason why I suggest Diaz sliding over to third.
In his career, Diaz has manned third base in a mere fifty-four games. Spring training will be very important for this move but I believe that Diaz is skilled enough and young enough to pick up this position quickly. To help him, Gyorko has played third in fifty-two games in his career.
While neither Diaz nor Gyorko owns the stats of Peralta, I believe they can certainly man the position as well to the degree to allow an addition such as Simmons. Want to know more about my thoughts on adding Simmons, stay tuned for a rumor article to come in the next few days.
Before moving on, let me share a name to watch for in the 2017 season: Breyvic Valera. This is a name the Cardinals added to the 40-man to protect him and he is a name on the rise. Valera could well spell the end of Wong at second should he continue his powerful play. Watch for him.