I think Matt Carpenter is a great prospect. Personally, I think he’s poised to take the starting 3B job from David Freese either during 2011 or by 2012. That said, I think he belongs in Memphis to start 2011.
|Springfield OPS||Memphis OPS|
It’s complete cherry picking and very anecdotal. That said, we’ve seen several players in recent years who have completely aberrant performances in Springfield relative to their prior performance and their skillset. There was never a good reason to think that Shane Robinson was a true talent .891 OPS player even in Springfield. Jarrett Hoffpauir saw a similar one season spike at Springfield only to see Memphis numbers collapse.
There’s a great number of issues at play here (increased competition, sample size, injuries, etc) and my contention is not that Matt Carpenter will see decreased production in 2011. Rather, it’s prudent for the organization to try Carpenter out at a Memphis where the costs of failure or struggles are reduced.
The other component to this is that David Freese needs to prove he can withstand playing for 140-ish games in a season. While he’s been on the field, he’s been productive (.343 wOBA) but he hasn’t been on the field much. The Cardinals are assuming some degree of risk by beginning the season with him at third but it is mitigated by the presence of Matt Carpenter who is merely a Memphis-St. Louis bus ride away. Regardless of whether Freese secures the St. Louis 3B spot long term or not, a healthy season will establish whatever trade value he may have. Currently, much of his trade value is in potential rather than actual production.
If both Freese and Carpenter have healthy, productive years then the 2012 conversation becomes both more difficult and more interesting. For 2011, however, there seems little reason to indulge in the hypotheticals of what Matt Carpenter could do in St. Louis when the risks and need for a productive Freese are so readily apparent.