Should the Cardinals bring back Albert Pujols and Matt Carpenter?
By Greg Simons
Pujols-Carpenter: Worst-case scenario
St. Louis signs both players once again, with the hope there’s still a spark remaining in at least one of Pujols’ or Carpenter’s bats. In fact, the Cardinals are so optimistic about what these two veterans can do, they decide to make a deal to shore up their pitching. Highly regarded prospect Nolan Gorman, widely expected to make his major league debut in 2022, is shipped off in exchange for pitching help.
Pujols’ 22nd season turns out to be his worst yet, as he performs as well with the Cardinals as he did with the Angels last season, hitting below .200, not reaching base even one quarter of the time, and only knocking a few balls over the fence before this sad reunion is over. And while 683 home runs still ranks fifth on the all-time list, this is a depressing denouement for one of baseball’s all-time greatest players.
Meanwhile, Carpenter experiences a similarly sad sendoff. We’ll let him get his BA over .200, but virtually no power and an ever-diminishing defensive acumen close the book on Carpenter’s career in St. Louis well before the season is over. Retiring as a one-team player, a four-time All-Star, and the recipient of a Silver Slugger award as well as votes for both MVP and Rookie of the Year Awards is a pretty solid way to close a career.
And then there’s Gorman. His new team has him split time between third and second bases, where he’s passable if not particularly impressive with the glove. But with the bat, he’s a terror – for the opposition. Crushing balls all over – and out of – the park, Gorman captures the Rookie of the Year Award, a strong start to a very promising career.
And that pitcher Gorman was traded for? Don’t you know it, he ended up needing Tommy John surgery partway through the season.