The St. Louis Cardinals have advertised their desire to make changes in the outfield for 2017. I have to admit that I’m becoming more and more skeptical that a change will be made this winter for the 2017 outfield. That said, I do predict one here but want to add this gigantic caveat that a no-move winter would not surprise me either.
I predict that Stephen Piscotty will be the starting right fielder in 2017. I know, I know, no shocker there. That said, this is the best option for the Cardinals in 2017 and into the future. Piscotty- to me- is the Matt Holliday of the future and 2017 will be the year that he takes a big step toward these statistics.
I predict that Carlos Gomez will be the starting center fielder for the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals. Of all the options sitting out there, I like A.J. Pollock the most but I just don’t see the Cardinals going for this option this year. I do, however, see Mozeliak adding Gomez for two-to-three years as a stop-gap until Harrison Bader ascends.
Speaking of Bader, I see him joining the Cardinals mid-year and serving as backup or even eclipsing Gomez as the starting center fielder. Having said that, I also would not be surprised to see the organization hold Bader’s ascension off until the rosters expand in September to give him plenty of everyday playing time.
I predict that Randal Grichuk will start 2017 in left field. Moving Grichuk from center is very much in the plans for the organization and makes a good deal of sense. In 2016, Grichuk earned a 1.9 UZR in a mere twenty-seven innings. In 2015, in 344.1 innings in left field, Grichuk earned a 2.5 UZR. As a point of comparison, Holliday earned a -5.1 UZR in left in 2016 so Grichuk would be a marked improvement here.
I predict that Tommy Pham will no longer be with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017. This means that someone like the aforementioned Jose Martinez will be the everyday backup off the bench for the Cardinals both in the infield as mentioned in the previous slide and, I predict, in the outfield as well.
To his credit, Martinez earned (in a very small sample size) a -0.6 UZR in 2016 in the outfield. As a point of comparison, Pham earned a -5.8 UZR when appearing in the outfield for his career. While tough to genuinely say that Martinez is an improvement thanks to his limited playing time, I’d rather take the risk of him over the made-of-glass Pham.