The Two Biggest Weaknesses of the St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals don’t make this easy on us. Heading into the offseason, they had two pretty clear weaknesses — outfield defense and shortstop offense. They traded for Peter Bourjos and signed Jhonny Peralta. Problems solved. And now we have to try to nitpick two other weaknesses for an impressively complete club.

How about their struggles against left-handed pitching? While the Cardinals hit .280/.343/.412 against righties last season, they were only able to muster a .238/.301/.371 line against southpaws. While it obviously didn’t hurt the overall production too much — St. Louis scored the third-most runs in baseball last year and were by far the highest-scoring National League team — that’s a pretty drastic split. It’s not even like the Cards had a lefty-heavy lineup — the only true lefties in the regular lineup were Jon Jay and Matt Carpenter, and Carpenter actually hit .294/.353/.467 against his like-handed opponents. In the World Series, 2 of their 4 losses came in games started by Jon Lester.

It’s entirely possible (and maybe even likely, given their recent history) that last year’s issues hitting left-handers was a small sample size fluke. After all, we’re only talking about just over 1600 regular season plate appearances for the entire team, compared to the 4589 plate appearances they made against righties. By swapping Jay out of the regular lineup, they’re even removing one of last year’s left-handed bats, and they’re likely going to use a platoon at second base with Mark Ellis getting the starts against left-handers.

Still, as strong as the Cardinals’ lineup may be, they could run into some depth problems if injuries hit in the wrong spots. We’ll call this the second weakness, even though it comes with a caveat.

If an injury in the outfield should arise, the Cards will still be in solid shape. Jay, moving to an outfield supersub role this year, should be able to fill in just fine for a couple of weeks should any of the starters land on the disabled list. Of course, there’s also Oscar Taveras just killing time in Memphis, waiting for his chance to make it in the majors. It might not even take an injury to get Taveras to the majors — if Matt Adams struggles, Allen Craig could easily move back to first base and Taveras could get the call to play right.

The depth is more a question mark in the infield, with Carpenter moving over to third base full-time instead of filling in where needed in the infield. One bench spot is tied up with the Ellis/Kolten Wong platoon, leaving Daniel Descalso as the only other backup infielder. Descalso, to put it simply, shouldn’t be trusted to play shortstop. If Peralta goes down, the Cardinals may have to choose between running Descalso out at short or, yes, maybe even looking at Pete Kozma again. Of course, if they get that desperate, they may just call up the newly-signed Aledmys Diaz. While there are some questions about his ability to play shortstop, he does have the distinct advantage of not being Pete Kozma.

Admittedly, these are relatively minor problems to have, and are probably ones that have already been adequately addressed. But the Cardinals simply do not have that many weaknesses that are worth talking about, and with one of the better farm systems in the majors over the past few years, they are more than capable of solving their problems from within. That’s scary for the rest of the division.

Jaymes Langrehr

About Jaymes Langrehr

Jaymes grew up in Wisconsin, and still lives there because no matter how much he complains about it, deep down he must like the miserable winters. He also contributes to Brewers blog Disciples of Uecker when he isn't too busy trying to be funny on Twitter.