Before the Cardinals open the second half with a three-game series in Pittsburgh, let's take a look at some of the questions on your mind.With Paul DeJong and Luke Voit doing so well and Kolten Wong coming back from the DL, where does that leave Matt Carpenter? His defense at
Before the Cardinals open the second half with a three-game series in Pittsburgh, let's take a look at some of the questions on your mind.
With Paul DeJong and Luke Voit doing so well and Kolten Wong coming back from the DL, where does that leave Matt Carpenter? His defense at second base is not great, and his bat has been sluggish. Voit is on a tear, and I see no reason to take him out of the lineup until he starts slumping. Is Carpenter a trade piece, or could Jedd Gyorko be traded since Carpenter can play third as well?
-- Tony G., Bridgeton, Mo.
Whether it's at first or second, Carpenter is going to play. His 2017 numbers may not be what he or the club expected, but Carpenter's track record of offensive success is sufficient enough to warrant his continued inclusion in the lineup. And let's not overlook the fact that he has the highest on-base percentage (.438) of any leadoff hitter this year.
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The question then becomes, how do the Cardinals position Wong and Voit around him? The Cardinals are a better defensive team with Carpenter at first and Wong at second, and I would expect that to be the alignment most days once Wong returns. Voit's opportunities would then likely come when the Cardinals are facing a left-handed starter. Carpenter could then shift to second.
That's not meant to diminish Voit's impact. He was key in helping the Cardinals to a 10-5 finish to the first half. But his sample size of success -- 14 games -- is not significant enough for him to play ahead of Carpenter. If anything, he'd supplant Wong as an everyday player if Wong struggles in his return from injury.
With the potential sale of the Marlins, shouldn't the Cardinals take full advantage and make them an offer for Giancarlo Stanton they can't turn down?
-- Mike S.
It does seem as if Miami is willing to entertain offers for any of its players, and that includes Stanton. Trading for him, however, is complex for several reasons. First, there is the contract, which could carry Stanton through the 2028 season if he forgoes an opt-out opportunity and has a club option exercised. Any team willing to take on that sort of financial commitment wouldn't have to give up as much in player talent. And that could be appealing.
What makes this particularly complicated, though, is that any team trading for Stanton won't know if they're getting him for three more full seasons or 11. He's owed $77 million through 2020, at which time Stanton can choose to opt out of the rest of the contract. If he doesn't, the team would be on the hook for at least $218 million more. That's a huge difference in money, and it will complicate the process of putting together an appropriate trade package.
This isn't to say that the Cardinals wouldn't be interested in Stanton; certainly he'd change the look of the lineup immediately. But it is important to consider all of the complicating factors.
The organization understands that it needs a middle-of-the-order bat and it knows the cost of finding one. So, yes, it is willing to entertain trade conversations that would involve the loss of young talent. But if the Cardinals are going to give up high-ceiling prospects and players with multiple years of control, they will not do it for a short-term solution. That's why Martinez will not be a target. Donaldson would be more appealing given that he'd be under team control for 2018.
Ultimately, what the Cardinals have to determine is where they can best procure this impact bat. They can wait until the offseason and try to outbid clubs on the free-agent market, though that hasn't been a very fruitful approach in the past. That would leave the trade market as an option. More options may present themselves in the offseason, so the Cardinals will have to weigh whether they want to make their big move now or wait until the winter.
How is Harrison Bader faring? When will he reach the big leagues? What is his floor/ceiling?
-- Pablo P., Guatemala City, Guatemala
Bader is having a standout season with Triple-A Memphis. He hit the Triple-A All-Star break with a .296/.354/.519 slash line and an .873 OPS in 85 games. With 17 home runs already, Bader sits two shy of his career high. His arrival in the Majors, though, will be dictated by need, and right now there isn't any in the Cardinals' outfield. Remember, there are already questions about how the club will divvy up playing time among the four outfielders they have.
That being said, I do expect to see Bader in St. Louis at some point this season. As for his ceiling, he's had the sort of season that would suggest there is potential for him to be a starting Major League outfielder in the future.
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.