|Will Matt Carpenter wind up as the Cardinals' regular at second? (Getty Images)|
Check just about any Cardinals depth chart and you'll find Daniel Descalso penciled in as the starting second baseman. That's with good reason. Descalso, after all, led the Cardinals in defensive innings at second base last season, and he's generally regarded as a plus with the glove. As well, Skip Schumaker is now a Dodger.
Of course, the Cardinals are also in the midst of transitioning Matt Carpenter to second base, and to hear coach Jose Oquendo tell it, that transition is going pretty well. In fact, Oquendo tells Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Carpenter is "ahead of schedule." Here's more from Oquendo:
"It isn't that big of a surprise. Schumaker did great on routine plays. But Schumaker had a tough time reading balls off the bat because of being in the outfield. (Carpenter) has been an infielder (third base, first base) almost all his time. He can read balls a lot better."
That's encouraging, to say the least. As evidenced by Schumaker's past role, the Cardinals are willing to sacrifice defense at the keystone in order to get a bat in the lineup. The difference this time around is that Carpenter is Schumaker's better at the plate and, at least at second base, with the glove. Carpenter, after all, has a career OPS+ of 120 in 359 career plate appearances, and in the minors he batted .299/.405/.450. At age 27, Carpenter is also entering what should his prime.
Descalso is probably the better glove man at second, but his abilities at the plate can't compare to Carpenter's. Descalso is best deployed as a utility infielder and defensive caddy for Carpenter (if he even requires one of those). Yes, Descalso, as mentioned, tops those depth charts for now, but don't be surprised if the offense-conscious Cardinals hand the regular job to Carpenter before opening day.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook. Also, individually interact with us on Twitter: @MattSnyder27, @daynperry and @mikeaxisa.