With about 10% of the season under the Cardinal’s belt, things are starting to settle in. The Cardinals having won 2 games in a row are trying to pull even at .500, the bullpen is starting to get things settled out (Bowman stock up, Oh stock down), while a few of the Cardinals hitters are starting to show flashes of what we thought they’d be (namely Dexter Fowler). However I want to dive head first into the hot corner – WHO will the Cardinals be deploying at 3B as the year goes on. Let’s go over what we’ve seen so far and what we HOPE Mozeliak gets Matheny to do.
Greg Garcia – Garcia is a guy whom I think the Cardinals have undervalued. Always steady in the field, Garcia complements his defense by consistently taking “tough” at bats. Garcia is batting .278 while appearing in 12 of 14 games but only having 18 at bats. 10 of his 18 at bats have come in the last 3 games as Mike Matheny is looking to other options with Peralta & Gyorko off to slow starts. Unfortunately, I think the Cardinals view Garcia as a guy who can give other regulars a day off (2B, SS, 3B) and pinch it. I think they should give him a continued look as a starter because it seems Garcia always does something to make a difference in the game.
Jhonny Peralta – If you look up underwhelming in the dictionary you may see a picture of Jhonny Peralta – I can’t confirm this, but I think there’s a pretty good chance. Peralta is batting an anemic .120 having gone 3 for 25 to start 2017. He has also struck out in 36% of his at bats, which is highly alarming. Peralta seems to be headed toward Ty Wiggington status (hit .158 in 47 games in 2013 before being released) . I don’t think the Cardinals will make a move with him soon – however if his bat doesn’t start to heat up the Cardinals will be forced to release him. Peralta could possibly play SS in a pinch – however his real value is in his BAT not his average to below average glove. Peralta had 2 productive years for St. Louis, but hasn’t shown well this year. Peralta, who is in the last year of his contract, doesn’t seem to be a guy with a lot of upside at this point in his career (turns 35 in about 5 weeks).
Jedd Gyorko – After hitting a career high 30 home runs in just 400 AB last year, Jedd Gyorko is another guy who Matheny can plug in at 3B. Gyorko is batting .241 with 2 of his 7 hits being home runs. Gyorko, who can play all over the infield, is another guy who gives the team versatility but ultimately will be in the lineup if he puts up similar numbers to last year. Not a high average hitter – but it’s nice to have a guy who can give you power off of the bench or in the lineup when his bat is hot.
Matt Carpenter – He has played 3B in the past, but it seems like the Cardinals wanted to lock him in at 1B this season. Carpenter has played corner outfield, 2B, 3B, and now 1B. Carpenter could play 3B more often if Gyorko, Peralta, or Garcis isn’t working. I think Carpenter is destined for some starts at 3B, because the Cardinals need to find a way to get Jose Martinez in the lineup. It’s better for the lineup to plug Martinez at 1B, instead of putting him in LF and having Randal Grichuk on the bench.
Kolten Wong plays into this equation as well. If he takes off as John Mozeliak suspects he will, than Greg Garcia and Jedd Gyorko have less playing time at 2B. This then opens Gyorko and Garcia to playing more at 3B.
I think the best starting lineup as of right now would be Molina at C, Martinez at 1B, Wong at 2B, Diaz at SS, Carpenter at 3B, and all 3 OF of Grichuk, Fowler, and Piscotty. If Martinez cools off you can put Carpenter back at 1B and plug in Gyorko, Garcia or Peralta at 3B. If Wong doesn’t produce at 2B than it opens up more AB for Gyorko and Garcia. The best 8 available hitters should be playing everyday, I’m not sure Matheny has been putting those 8 guys out there. Hopefully playing time gets based off of what guys are doing – NOT what they may or may not be capable of.