By most accounts, it appears Matt Carpenter will be the primary 2B in 2013 for the Cardinals. With this move, the Cardinals bench goes from somewhat of a weakness to a strength. Ronny Cedeno was cut, and it appears Matt Adams is in. The Cards will go with an unusual bench alignment to start the year, where Daniel Descalso will be the backup at 3B, SS and 2B. It appears Shane Robinson has solidified himself as the 4th OF’er, and because both Allen Craig and Carpenter can play LF and RF, Adams will not only make the team but receive plenty of AB’s.
This move also helps Pete Kozma, but more on that later. For now, it appears the bench will be Ty Wigginton, Tony Cruz, Robinson, Descalso and Adams. With the new schedule having interleague play throughout the whole year, along with Carlos Beltran being rested more, Adams should see at least 2 starts a week at 1B (one for Craig and another for Craig being moved to RF for Beltran’s day off). One thing Mike Matheny has stressed is more rest for the veterans in 2013, which might also extend to a few days for Matt Holliday here and there.
Although Wigginton’s numbers have been in decline for a few years, the Cards will at least have the presence of 2 power bats off the bench in the late innings, Wigginton from the right side and Adams from the left. I still think Descalso will get 40-50 games or so starting at 2B, especially when Jake Westbrook is the SP. Along with Westbrook being the king of groundball outs, Matheny will want to keep Descalso sharp. On those days, you have Carpenter coming off the bench in the late innings.
While talk is already heating up on whether Carpenter will make Kolten Wong expendable in the future at 2B over at CardsTalk, I’d say we wait and see at least a few regular season games first. Although Carpenter is well ahead of where Skip Schumaker was when he was made a 2B according to Jose Oquendo, he’s still going to make mistakes and have a learning curve on defense. We should all just look at this as a move that gives Wong more time to develop for now. Carpenter is a bit tall for a 2B, but I’m anxious to see his bat in the lineup on a regular basis.
Once again, the Cards will have one of deepest lineups in the NL, if not all of MLB. Matheny will have a lot to work with, and Kozma will be an afterthought as the season progresses IMO. All the Cards need from Kozma is solid defense. Let’s also not forget that Kozma is only 24 and he still may be respectable on offense. He wouldn’t be the first guy to be a late bloomer. Because of the deep lineup, Kozma is going to see better pitches than many 8th place hitters, so having Carpenter at 2B helps him as well. Not only will his bat be hidden in the lineup a little better if he struggles, he won’t have to look over his shoulder at someone like Cedeno. Hopefully the talk of landing Troy Tulowitzki will stop, and the Cards hang onto to their top pitching prospects. I just don’t see the offense being the weakness of the 2013 Cards.