Update II: And Joe Strauss confirms the Matt Carpenter callup.
Update: First shoe drops – Kozma sent down, Mark Hamilton called up per Matthew Leach. Maikel Cleto remains on the roster but one has to wonder how long the Cardinals continue with 13 pitchers.
The rumors are starting to fly fast and thick. This seems like a where there’s smoke there is fire and I expect that a beat reporter will confirm in the near term. [Please note: I am NOT confirming a callup in this piece currently.]
I made the case one month ago why Matt Carpenter wouldn’t be called up. It rested upon three basic points:
- David Freese would not be out for very long.
- Matt Carpenter was not on the 40-man roster.
- Matt Carpenter was not hitting terribly well.
The first premise turned out to be wrong as Freese will have been out for upwards two months and while Freese has made comments about being ahead of schedule, he’d benefit from a rehab start.
In the past several weeks the Cardinals have cleared some less useful components from the 40-man roster with PJ Walters being outrighted and Blake King being claimed by Houston. The 40-man roster currently stands at 39 leaving a clear spot for Matt Carpenter.
The final reason that Matt Carpenter wasn’t called up was that, frankly, he wasn’t playing in a way that obviously warranted promotion. A month ago he had a 106 wRC+. While he’s sported a .400 OBP consistently during the course of the season but the power he showed at Springfield has dissipated back to Palm Beach levels.
Since then, Carpenter has performed slightly better raising his wRC+ to 112 (100 is average) and sporting a .417 OBP. Matt Carpenter has a very specific and exceptional skill. He will not swing at bad pitches and he will take a ton of walks. He’s currently walking in 16% of his plate appearances, which is tops in the Pacific Coast League.
If the Cardinals call him up, and it certainly seems like they will announce that shortly, he’s the best option to start at third base. Don’t expect a lot of home runs. Don’t expect flashy plays in the field. Do expect the best batting eye of anyone on the team. Do expect a fundamentally sound player at the plate and in the field. That’s what Matt Carpenter is and it’s something that the Cardinals don’t really have at third base right now.