The Cardinals are in a position of strength with so many position player options in 2023
The St. Louis Cardinals are coming into the 2023 season with a lot of different players expected to compete for playing time during Spring Training and in the regular season.
The areas of competition include all three outfield spots, second base, and the designated hitter role, meaning there are some questions about who will fill each of the five spots on a consistent basis. Eight different players appear to be fighting for those spots, including Tyler O'Neill, Lars Nootbaar, Dylan Carlson, Jordan Walker, Juan Yepez, Alec Burleson, Brendan Donovan, and Nolan Gorman, not to mention guys like Moises Gomez and Paul DeJong.
This has led many to question why the Cardinals would hold onto so many position players when they have needs on their pitching staff. All of those names should see Major League at-bats at this point, and yet, some of them will not even be able to fit on the roster. This has led to some interesting discussions, one that was prompted again after this tweet from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold.
His point is spot on, five different names will get ample playing time. The questions that are rising for fans and pundits alike though are fair: how will the other four manage to get enough playing time? Sure, without the presence of Albert Pujols at DH anymore, there will be more playing time to go around, but it's not quite as simple as Goold made it seem to be.
The bottom line for manager Oli Marmol this season will be one word: competition. If you can hit, you will play, and there will be little margin for players to have prolonged cold streaks in their lineup. In past seasons, the Cardinals have had to "stick with their guys" even when it does not appear they will turn the corner, as they just didn't have anyone else they could rely on. Now the tune is different, and that is something to be celebrated, not frustrated by.
The one concern I do have here is that with so many options, will it cause players to press, or stunt development if they are not getting regular playing time? Yes, this should favor the team big time, but it will test Marmol's ability to manage players' personalities if they are receiving the short end of the stick.
I'll be posting a story soon with different lineup combinations the Cardinals may rely on in 2022, but in a preview of that, let's look at the different ways the Cardinals will get creative to find at-bats for any of these position players that are fighting for playing time.