4 difficult decisions for the St. Louis Cardinals before Spring Training ends

Spring Training is a time for decisions. These four decisions will be at the forefront of the St. Louis Cardinals' final offseason phase.

St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles
St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages
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Decision #3: Figuring out the time split in key positions

Unlike the bullpen, the position-player side of the roster is settled. Willson Contreras and Ivan Herrera will handle catching duties. Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Masyn Winn, Brendan Donovan, and Nolan Gorman will be on the dirt. Lars Nootbaar, Tommy Edman, Jordan Walker, Dylan Carlson, and Alex Burleson will man the outfield.

The issue on this side of the game comes in how much each player plays at each position. At catcher, it is likely that Contreras sees about 70% of the starts (around 115 games). The debacle last year surrounding his game calling forced him out from behind the plate, but that situation appears to be in the past. Ivan Herrera, particularly after his massive showing in the Caribbean Series, is a sure-handed backup who can also spend time at designated hitter. This split at catcher will be resolved in a short time.

At second base, the Cardinals have two players who provide very different outlooks. On one hand, the team can employ Nolan Gorman primarily there. His defense improved mightily between year 1 and year 2, and his power potential is unmatched on the roster (except maybe by Jordan Walker). If Gorman gets the bulk of innings at second base, that frees up Brendan Donovan to DH, play the outfield, play either corner infield spot, or even spell Masyn Winn at shortstop. If Donovan is the primary second baseman, Gorman can DH or play third base occasionally. Donovan's defensive upside is higher than Gorman's, and his on-base skills are supreme. This split needs to be figured out by the end of Spring Training.

The final area where St. Louis needs clarity on who players where how often comes in the outfield. Can Alec Burleson show enough this spring to see 350-400 innings in the outfield? What if Dylan Carlson absolutely mashes in Florida, thus forcing the team's hand? Jordan Walker's defense was abysmal last year. If nothing changes there, perhaps he will move to designated hitter or first base.

The spring circuit will provide clarity on time splits at key positions like catcher, second base, and the outfield. The versatility of players like Tommy Edman and Brendan Donovan alleviates some of the concern here, but Marmol would like to keep players at their most natural positions to optimize their performance.