LAS VEGAS -- With president of baseball operations John Mozeliak noting last week that it's "highly probable" the club's eight starting position players are already on the Cardinals' roster, the task now falls on manager Mike Shildt to put those pieces in place.In his formal media session at the Winter
LAS VEGAS -- With president of baseball operations John Mozeliak noting last week that it's "highly probable" the club's eight starting position players are already on the Cardinals' roster, the task now falls on manager Mike Shildt to put those pieces in place.
In his formal media session at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, the first-year manager offered hints as to how he's considering constructing his lineup for 2019.
He cleverly offered a response of "very nicely" when asked how Paul Goldschmidt will fit into the batting order, though he later confirmed the assumption that the new first baseman will be one of the team's top three hitters. Shildt went on to acknowledge that he "could see the benefit" of batting Goldschmidt right behind Matt Carpenter, whose job as a leadoff hitter remains secure.
"If it's not broke, don't fix it," Shildt said of Carpenter's placement. "I would say in heavy pencil that you could expect to see Matt Carpenter in the leadoff spot."
Shildt went on to downplay the likelihood of Yadier Molina returning to the two-hole, a spot he occupied more than any other player after Shildt stepped in to manage. Paul DeJong, on the other hand, is a candidate to hit near the top of the lineup, potentially between Goldschmidt and cleanup hitter Marcell Ozuna.
"[DeJong], historically, has done well in that spot," Shildt said. "He's already proven he can perform there, and I think it would be great even for those guys to help his production even more."
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Behind Ozuna, the possible lineup combinations are more varied. The team's right fielder -- which, for now, is William Fowler -- and Molina will likely slide in next. Harrison Bader and Kolten Wong will bring speed to the bottom third of the order.
Shildt did dismiss the possibility of employing the batting-the-pitcher-eighth strategy that some clubs have used in recent years.
Whatever Shildt settles on, inserting a player who has slashed .301/.406/.541 over the past six seasons will help push the Cardinals toward the more prolific and consistent offense they are seeking.
"The more I know [Goldschmidt] and do research on him and talk to people I trust in the industry and people that played with him, he's a special talent in and of his own," Shildt said. "Offensively he's clearly a proven commodity that can hit and anchor an offense and lengthen the offense out and make people running better. You've got a game plan for him and a game plan around him for other guys that he's going to increase their opportunities."
Shildt's morning media session included discussions beyond the lineup, as well. Here are some of the additional highlights:
• Jedd Gyorko, upon learning that the Cardinals had acquired Goldschmidt, told Shildt that he'd be willing to bring an outfielder's glove with him next season. Shildt said the club will "explore [that option] on some level and see what it looks like" in Spring Training. Gyorko has played two innings in the outfield during his professional career.
• In speaking about the acquisition of utility man Drew Robinson, Shildt put the move into clever context.
"He's actually from Las Vegas, the 26-year-old left-handed batter from Las Vegas," Shildt said. "Which is big news."
Ninety minutes later, agent Scott Boras gathered down the hallway to talk about the intense pursuit of the other 26-year-old left-handed batter from Las Vegas, Bryce Harper, drawing interest this offseason.
• Members of the Cardinals' front office will spend part of the evening with Fowler, who invited the group over to his Las Vegas home for dinner.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.