St. Louis Cardinals: Either/or series, part one- infielders
The St. Louis Cardinals have decisions to make this offseason and many of these boil down to either/or questions with players already on the roster.
The St. Louis Cardinals enter the offseason with a gluttony of players on the roster. This is a very good problem to have as the team thinks ahead to what it wants to be in 2018. First, however, the team must decide who to keep and who to let depart.
As we fans await the St. Louis Cardinals’ first move, let’s take a look at the players on the roster in whom the Cards must trust or bid farewell.
In this part one, the either/or question sticks with Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter. Many of us here at Redbird Rants have written that the Cardinals should trade Matt Carpenter and that implies that we have already deemed him worthy of departing. But is this the right choice?
First, we must agree that the Cardinals will add someone to the infield this offseason. Should this happen, then the either/or scenario comes into play. For the purpose of this article then, let’s assume the Cardinals pick up a corner infielder.
The St. Louis Cardinals, thanks to their added power player at the corner (you can imagine any name you desire here), must now decide if it is wise to keep both Carpenter and Gyorko. A wise GM would look at the numbers.
Starting financially first, Carpenter is under contract through 2019 with a team option for 2020. He will make $13.75M in 2018 and $14.75M in 2019. The 2020 team option is valued at $18.5M with a $2M buyout.
Gyorko is under contract through 2019 with a team option for 2020; sound familiar? Jedd will make $9M in 2018 ($2.5M paid by San Diego) and $13M in 2019 ($3M paid by San Diego). The 2020 team option is valued at $13M with a $1M buyout.
Financially speaking, the St. Louis Cardinals would be wise to keep Gyorko over Carpenter if performance numbers support this take. Having said that, however, Gyorko’s contract might be easier to send elsewhere…
To the numbers then… Carpenter has watched his batting average go from .272 to .271. to .241 from 2015 to 2017. Still, the numbers aren’t bad at all. Gyorko has watched his batting average go from .247 to .243 to .272. Looking at these numbers, it is very difficult to pick one over the other.
How about power hitting? Carpenter mashed 44 doubles in 2015, 36 in 2016, and 31 in 2017. Gyorko hit 15 doubles in 2015, nine in 2016, and 21 in 2017. In the doubles category, the advantage goes to Carpenter.
Home run hitting on a consistent basis goes to Carpenter too. Gyorko recorded 16, 30, 20 in ’15, ’16, and ’17 while Carpenter recorded 28, 21, 23 in the same years.
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Defensively speaking, Carpenter manned first base primarily in 2017 but has held down third base in the past. Convexly, Gyorko manned third base primarily in 2017 but appeared at other positions including first base and second base in addition to short stop. Carpenter’s 2017 dWAR was a -0.5 (not too bad for a first baseman). Gyorko’s 2017 dWAR was 1.9. Advantage: Gyorko.
If we are keeping score, we see that Carpenter is up 2-1 and mainly thanks to his offense and consistency therein. With the question resting on defense, the real question is answered then based on who the St. Louis Cardinals might add, right?
Maybe not so fast. It seems that should the Cardinals grab a first baseman that the team would be wise to keep Gyorko and offload Carpenter. But, but that might not be the right choice. To me, at least, the decision rests with the player gained and to his fit within the lineup.
The lineup, to me then, is the one thing that should decide Carpenter or Gyorko. If the St. Louis Cardinals add a top-of-the-order hitter, then Carpenter is free to go and Gyorko is kept. If the team grabs a middle-of-the-order or lower batter, then the Cards would be wise to move on from Gyorko.
All that said, I wish the decision was simple but we know it is not. Either way, I hope the St. Louis Cardinals find players who will make this team better in 2018. And with adding must come subtracting and wise decisions must be made in this regard.
Go get ’em, Mozeliak. Go make this team better!