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Matt Carpenter is impressing at second base

Mar 10, 2013, 10:24 AM EDT

matt carpenter getty Getty Images

The Cardinals told Matt Carpenter — who played primarily first base, third base and the corner outfield spots last season — to spend his winter learning how to play second base. And learn he did.

Carpenter has logged 44 innings at second this spring in the Grapefruit League and has impressed the St. Louis coaching staff with his defense, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The 27-year-old has not made an error and he has played a role in turning six double plays. He’s also batting .417 with a 1.101 OPS over 29 plate appearances.

“I’m at the point now where if I were to be out there in a game I don’t feel lost whatsoever,” Carpenter told Goold. “Am I going to win a Gold Glove over there? The odds of that are probably slim. But at the same time, do I feel like I can play an adequate second base? I do. I really do now. I’m comfortable at that position.”

That’s exactly what the Cardinals were hoping to hear. Carpenter hit .294/.365/.463 in 340 plate appearances last summer and should be more of a regular in 2013. Which leaves Daniel Descalso as a utility infielder.

  1. gbrim - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    Pretty unusual for an average fielding corner infielder/outfielder to be able to make the move to the middle. If this works long-term, maybe other teams will try contact guys who play the corners and don’t crush the ball at 2B too.

    • drycanada - Mar 10, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      Twins did a similar thing with michael cuddyer 2 years ago (who played HS as a SS). Michael Young’s played all over the field. Hopefully this works out. Looks like he played pretty much all of his Minors career at 3B and he’s not a huge guy so he should be quick enough.

  2. 13arod - Mar 10, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Why don’t they teach him how to play shortstop with rafrial furcal gone

    • historiophiliac - Mar 10, 2013 at 11:34 AM


    • paperlions - Mar 10, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      SS is much harder to learn….just look at Jeter, dude has been trying to learn that position for 20 years and still hasn’t figured it out.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 10, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        he he

      • spudchukar - Mar 10, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        Oh, Snap PL, must have gotten a good night’s sleep.

  3. jjpileggi - Mar 10, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    Not a bad risk at the right price.
    John Pileggi

  4. spudchukar - Mar 10, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    I might remind everyone that it is early in Spring Training, so like a snapshot the Cards should wait until things fully develop, but so far the need for other middle-infielders than the Kozma/Carpenter/Descalso trio looks just fine.

    The addition of Cedeno is curious though. Even if the aforementioned triad continue to excel, a right-hand hitting defensive replacement specialist might be a better acquisition. I know I am in a minority opinion on this but I actually liked LaRussa’s late-inning substitution of Descalso for Freeze. It minimized Freeze’s innings, always a worry, utilized Descalso at, IMHO his best position, and kept the bench fresh. If Carpenter is going to bet the majority of starts at second, then it looks like Descalso becomes the late-inning replacement nullifying his effectiveness at third.

    Perhaps I underestimate Cedeno’s defensive prowess. He is a legitimate SS, but just not the greatest, and somebody with better defensive skills may have been a better choice, if that somebody actually exists. He is right handed which is a plus.

    As far as Carpenter’s past defense, I believe it would be proper to describe his abilities as slightly above average, with 3B being his best position. He is a little long-legged, without the quickest feet, but if he can make the routine plays, he cannot be any worse than Schumaker, may be able to slide over to first to give Craig some late-inning help, and start there against some tough righties that historically give Craig difficulty.

    Much like our yet-decided pitching staff, the Cards have problems most teams would love to have.

    • paperlions - Mar 10, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      I am hoping they find a decent long-term SS solution, but with the make up of the team…the can definitely afford to go defense first at that position. It would actually be interesting to see if Jose Iglesias is available, they have a better long-term option, and Iglesias is young with a plus glove and the potential for an average bat at SS (with no power whatsoever).

      I’d also love to see them go after the young Cuban SS whose age is currently under evaluation….if they can get him for a modest outlay of cash (to me, anything under $20M would probably be a good deal considering the potential he has) that would be a solid investment….after all, teams throw away that much money on low-upside veterans all the time….at least in this case the upside is really high.

  5. spudchukar - Mar 10, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    I still hold on to some hope that Kozma may just blossom into the player they always hoped he could become. No one was more critical of him than me, the back-to-back 34 error seasons, and poor offensive numbers at low-level minor league stops certainly shouted bust, but from what I saw last year, he deserves a good long look.

    He plays fearlessly, where he gets the confidence I am not sure, is very fast on the bases, although he hasn’t shown the ability to steal bases, has some legitimate pop, can take the ball to the opposite field, has range and an arm that are more than adequate for SS, and seems to be a good teammate, just quiet.

    If he can produce something like .275, with 15 homers, 20+ doubles, drive in 65-70 runs, and play defense at an average big league level, than I say he is a keeper, and I will continue to be happy to eat crow.

    • paperlions - Mar 10, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Agreed. At this point, if Kozma could play average defense with an average bat that would be great…if he could somehow manage to have power with a .300 OBP and passable defense (meaning a little below average, but not horrible), that would be great, too. I don’t care if he’s below average, all he has to do is manage to be not horrible and that would be good enough for now.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 10, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      I see I am slowly converting you boys. :)

  6. okwhitefalcon - Mar 10, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Though middle infield is obviously a question, and a big one – I think they’ll manage until overexposure eventually rears it’s ugly head.

    For me, starting pitching’s still my biggest concern and will remain that way, just not much trust outside of Wainwright as of yet. Subject to change of course.

    Encouraging start by Garcia today, looked sharp and Rosenthal was unhittable in relief.

    Pure speculation on my part here, I’ve got a feeling Miller’s going to snatch the 5th starter gig from Kelly sooner than later.

    Kelly’s coomand has been a bit off and Miller (thus far) has outpitched him.

  7. stlouis1baseball - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Great to hear. Should this continue…2nd is no longer a huge concern.
    I am hoping D.D. gets extended time at Shortstop with Kozma providing spot duty.
    Would like to see Descalso get some consistent AB’s. Only then will we have a definitive idea of how decent (or woefully bad)…he is at the plate.

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