Feb. 17: Q of the Day
What are your thoughts on Matt Carpenter at second base thus far? Daniel Descalso is a great ball player especially defensively, but Carpenter has a huge upside offensively.
— Cody S. Edwardsville, Ill.
This question has been posed to me several times and is obviously one of the biggest storylines of camp. However, it’s also way too early to jump to conclusions. Does Carpenter look competent at the position during infield drills? Yes. But really, did you think the answer would be otherwise? He has spent plenty of time playing third base and first base to be capable of fielding ground balls. The fact that he has played on the right side of the infield means that he already has good reads of balls coming in that direction. So that wasn’t so much an issue either.
But fielding ground balls and making flips to second or throws to first (all of which Carpenter has been doing) does not mean someone is ready to be a Major League second baseman. The Cardinals have to see how Carpenter handles himself at the position in a game. When the game speeds up, can he turn the double play? Does his footwork stay as it should? Can he get out of the way of a runner coming toward him? Does he properly back up the base on throws and position himself correctly for a cut-off and know when to step in to help with a rundown? These are all aspects of the position that drills won’t answer.
That said, the members of the Cardinals’ staff who have watched Carpenter during these early days are pleased with his progress thus far. A lot of factors will go into the final decision about who to start at second, including how much the Cardinals want to prioritize defense at the spot. This will be an evolving story throughout camp and one that may not have a resolution until late.
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