ST. LOUIS -- The search for a center fielder has ended, yet there remain plenty of questions about what's left on the winter to-do list and what's brewing for the season ahead. With the Dexter Fowler frenzy now dying down, let's take a look at some of the topics still
ST. LOUIS -- The search for a center fielder has ended, yet there remain plenty of questions about what's left on the winter to-do list and what's brewing for the season ahead. With the Dexter Fowler frenzy now dying down, let's take a look at some of the topics still on your mind.
Although the major needs have been filled by getting a reliever, outfielder and backup catcher, if the Cardinals were to go and sign/trade for one more player, what purpose would that player serve? In other words, if the Cardinals could upgrade one more area or position, what would it be?
-- Ryan L., Rector, Ark.
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If the Cardinals were to seek more than depth and make a run at an impact player, they'd likely target a first baseman. Though the club has every intention of utilizing Matt Carpenter at first, his flexibility does provide the option for a late move across the diamond. If the Cards were to find someone like Edwin Encarnacion or Mark Trumbo still on the market in January and could swoop in to sign one to a short contract, that could be appealing.
But I still don't see this as a likely scenario. Not only are both players likely to find more lucrative options elsewhere, but you'd also wonder how adding a slugging first baseman addresses the team's stated direction of become more athletic and agile.
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I assumed that when the Cardinals moved Carpenter to first that Jedd Gyorko (and his 30 homers) would start at third. However, it seems like most people think it'll either be Jhonny Peralta or a timeshare. What do you think the Cardinals will do with their two options at third?
-- Jonathan O., Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Cards have indicated that Peralta will enter Spring Training atop the depth chart at third base. But that's always subject to change. If Peralta does not arrive in optimal shape or is slow to get going once the regular season starts, the club won't hesitate to insert Gyorko. I would imagine the Cards will try to get as much production as they can out of Peralta early in the year with the expectation that they'll get Gyorko more involved when/if Peralta fades as the season deepens.
Gyorko, who can fill in at second, short and third, will get a sufficient number of at-bats. He'll just likely be moving around to do so.
Hi Jenifer: I was wondering if Matt Adams is still in the Cardinals' plan for the upcoming season. With Carpenter as our primary first baseman, Adams doesn't offer versatility to play another position.
-- Rob, Slinger, Wisc.
Adams is the only position player on the 40-man roster who has zero defensive versatility. And that's going to continue to hold him back. The decision to earmark Carpenter for the starting job at first leaves little playing time in sight for Adams. He can be a weapon off the bench, though he may also get stale sitting on it.
While the Cards are content keeping Adams as a backup, I wouldn't be surprised if they still end up dealing him this winter. That will ultimately depend upon how other teams value Adams.
I'm wondering what the backup plan is if Randal Grichuk needs another trip to Triple-A Memphis to retool his swing. Tommy Pham? Aren't we an outfielder short still?
-- Scott, Austin, Texas
Quite frankly, there's not a strong backup plan. Right now, Pham lines up as the fourth outfielder, though the club is hopeful of adding a left-handed-hitting backup outfielder before the winter ends. Besides Pham, there is outfield depth on the 40-man roster with José Martínez and Anthony García. Harrison Bader, a budding outfield prospect, will also be waiting in Triple-A.
Jen: Do you think the Cardinals will pursue a left-handed starter via trade or free agency? If not, who do the Cards currently have to fill that role?
-- Russ R., Senath, Mo.
No, the Cardinals are not expected to pursue any additional starting pitching help. Rather, they project to enter the season with an all-righty rotation that will include some combination of Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martínez, Mike Leake, Lance Lynn, Alex Reyes and Michael Wacha. Marco Gonzales and Tyler Lyons -- both of whom are recovering from injury -- will provided left-handed depth behind that group.
One of the reasons teams typically like including a lefty in the rotation is for the different look he provides. (Of course, neutralizing left-handed batters is part of the equation, too.) But the Cards believe their right-handers differ enough that they can counter with a contrast in styles just fine. St. Louis will line up a string of five righties who have varying deliveries and repertoires.
Could the Cardinals still trade for Charlie Blackmon, play him in right, move Stephen Piscotty to first, and have Carpenter at second or third? Also, having Carpenter at third and second could be beneficial if Peralta or Kolten Wong have another down year. What are your thoughts?
-- Marshall H., Harrah, Okla.
I understand the logic here and see how such a move would make the Cards' offense more formidable. But it's not going to happen. One of the reasons the Cardinals went hard in their pursuit of Fowler was because of the demands in the trade market. General manager John Mozeliak did not want to give up Alex Reyes, the organization's top prospect, or set back the farm system by dealing too many of those young players. We all saw the haul of talent Washington gave up to acquire outfielder Adam Eaton, and it's been reported that the Rockies are demanding a similar package for Blackmon.
Thus, when you evaluate the potential impact Blackmon would make, you have to equally consider the cost. And for both the short- and long-term vitality of the organization, it doesn't seem to make sense.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.