Feb. 20: Q of the Day
How good do you think the 2014 Cardinals defense will compare to 2013? Assuming an outfield of Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos and Allen Craig, I’d say the outfield is about the same. Assuming an infield of Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, Kolten Wong and Matt Adams, I’d say the infield is worse.
— Matt G., South Bend, Ind.
I expect the Cardinals’ defense to actually be much improved this season — perhaps more so than people anticipate. Having Bourjos in center is going to make a substantial difference in the outfield. I’m not sure how much of Bourjos Cardinal fans have had an opportunity to see, but he has the potential to be the best defensive center fielder in the game. Having him there will make Holliday and Craig better, too, because they will have less ground to cover. Consider this: Bourjos was credited with 25 defensive runs saved (198 games) in 2010-11 (he dealt with injuries in the two seasons to follow. And Jon Jay? He posted a -10 in that category last season. Even in 2012 — a year when he was lauded for his defense — his runs saved total was just two.
The infield defense should also be better. Matt Carpenter has more range at third base than did David Freese. Kolten Wong and Mark Ellis are both above-average at second. And Adams has shown himself plenty capable at first. I don’t think the Cardinals will lose anything defensively by subbing him in place of Allen Craig. Shortstop defense will decline some, but I still think this infield unit as a whole is improved. In essence, the Cardinals were able to boost their defense with one November trade — as that deal brought in Bourjos and prompted a shuffle in the infield.
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