When you think of the Cardinals' infield for the past five years, you think of a middle infield with a revolving door. They will look to address one of those issues with a spring training experiment that started as a joke, but turned out to be very real.
With the departure of Adam Kennedy, Skip Schumaker (pictured right) will make the jump from the outfield to second base in 2009. When first approached with the idea, Skip thought that it was merely a joke, stating that he used to play the infield, and that is why he became an outfielder. While some may be skeptical as to whether this move will work, Schumaker has made it his top priority this spring.
He was just recently announced as the Opening Day starting second baseman. This allows him to remain in the Cardinals plans for the future, and makes him a giant asset to his team.
Another revolving door has been the shortstop position. Khalil Greene will look to bounce back from a disappointing injury-plagued 2008 season with the Padres. He will be a major upgrade offensively from the Cardinals' 2008 shortstop, Ceasar Izturis. He is also a Gold Glove-caliber defenseman.
A couple players on the infield that fans will not have to worry about are Albert Pujols (pictured left) and Yadier Molina. Pujols had yet another monster year in 2008, capped off with his second MVP award, and for some reason or another, it still doesn't feel like has had a breakout year. When that season comes, fans might witness something remarkable...if his first eight years in the bigs haven't been enough (.334 AVG, 319 HR, 977 RBI, 947 R).
Yadier Molina is the best defensive catcher in the National League, and maybe even the majors. He is progressing every year offensively, and set career highs in 2008 with an average of .304, 56 RBI, .392 SLG, .349 OBP, and 37 runs in just 124 games played. He also won his first Gold Glove award.
Troy Glaus will begin the season on the DL, looking to return early May. Until then, third base will be occupied by David Freese and Joe Mather. Freese was acquired from San Diego in the Jim Edmonds trade after 2007, and Mather played some outfield for the Cardinals in 2008. Both player will fill in nicely for Glaus and should contribute to the team's success right away.
Brendan Ryan will be the primary backup for both 2B and SS, Jason LaRue will back up Molina behind the plate, and Chris Duncan will fill in at 1B in the rare occurrence that Pujols needs a breather. Brian Barden will also spell the starters in the infield from time to time.