St. Louis Cardinals: Predicting the 26-man roster one month out

JUPITER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 19: The St. Louis Cardinals huddle during a team workout at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 19: The St. Louis Cardinals huddle during a team workout at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 14: Paul DeJong #12 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws to first base against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning of Game Three of the National League Championship Series at Nationals Park on October 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Starters

Moving from left-to-right, the first three positions are about as no-brainer as it gets. Paul Goldschmidt, Gold-Glover Kolten Wong, and Paul DeJong (who is the Cardinals’ leading hitter this spring) are a lock as starters and roster spots numbers one to three.

As we have said, Matt Carpenter is going to get every opportunity to reclaim his spot at third. Everything Carpenter has done so far has looked good: 1.000 OPS and errorless fielding at the hot corner.

But the back tightness which has kept him out of a few spring games should be a warning that it is best not to overuse Carpenter. He has had a history of back problems and is now 34-years old. And have a Plan B for Carpenter.

That Plan B for the third sack is Tommy Edman and, I believe, Brad Miller, representing roster spots five and six.

Edman was the WAR-leader for the Cardinals since making his debut midway through last season. He is the famous Swiss Army knife for the Cardinals in 2020. He is a player you can insert in the outfield or infield without feeling like you are losing one whit of offense at any position. Miller is similarly versatile and has already seen action at third base, shortstop, second base, and left field this spring.

The decision for Brad Miller was just recently made easier by an injury to Yairo Munoz. Although Munoz’ injury is likely to be a short-term one, it gives the front office an excuse to give him a long rehab spell in Memphis. There was a growing consensus, anyway, that Munoz was not done any favors by being rushed to the majors at a young age in order to realize some quick recoupment in the Steven Piscotty trade. More reps will likely yield a better Yairo for the future.

I would also point out that Goldschmidt’s arm-tightness this spring may indicate that even he could use more rest than previously. The slugger will turn 33 before season’s end. The Cardinals have a long-term investment in Goldy through age 37 (unlike short-termers like Marcell Ozuna, Mike Moustakas and Josh Donaldson whom teams will have no reason not to wear out.).

The plan for getting Goldschmidt some rest may well be to move Carpenter to first, simultaneously giving Matt a breather from the back-breaking work at third-base. Goldschmidt’s lineup replacement in this scenario may well be Miller, who is a long-ball threat. Late last season he became the only Philadelphia Phillie player in history with three multi-home run games in a nine-game span. This spring Miller sports a home run and a .917 OPS.

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