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The Cardinals' pitchers have reported to Spring Training and Stan Musial is about to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, so until news breaks and aside from this uncomfortable declaration of intent, I promise that the remainder of this community projection post has nothing to do with Albert Pujols... unless you think the Cardinals might move him to third if David Freese gets hurt.
Anyway, we've got better things to worry about—like David Freese's ability to walk! Rick Hummel confirmed yesterday that Freese did not get in a car accident, drop a weight on his foot, or collapse in pain on a minor league baseline this offseason, which is good news for a team that remains fully reliant on him to carry the load at third. (Note to David Freese: Do not actually attempt to carry anything. If you need help moving or anything, give me a call.)
I realize there are a number of flaws in this reasoning, but this is how I think of the Cardinals every offseason: There was a hole at X this season; this year there can't possibly be a hole in X again! This year there are easy problems that need fixing—the back of the rotation—and problems the Cardinals remained determined not to fix, at shortstop and second base. Third base is the only 2010 disaster where the Cardinals have a clear and theoretically possible solution: Play David Freese until he gets hurt again and make sure that the guy behind him who can't hit is at least a great defender.
To be honest, I'm not especially fond of this game-plan, but I have to admit that it exists, and that the Cardinals are likely to do better than .260/.317/.338 from their third base contingent in 2011, although they'd be hard-pressed to top the 11 TZ fielding runs picked up by Freese and Pedro Feliz last year. With Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter lurking in the background the Cardinals promise to at least be interesting at third base at all times, which is an improvement and a faux-Chinese curse.
With that in mind, I'd like to offer a rare double community projection. I want you to first project David Freese, who was traded for Jim Edmonds and is now similarly hobbled; after that, figure out how many games you have left and project the combined totals of his replacements. (Those include, as a refresher, and probably in this order, Nick Punto, Allen Craig, Tyler Greene, Daniel Descalso, and Matt Carpenter.)
I've embedded a Google Form after the jump that should take care of things. If you don't have a VEB account, I encourage you to register.
So there's that! And for good measure, a concluding poll—who will the Cardinals play at third base when David Freese's leg is amputated by mistake while he's asleep in front of Jim Edmonds's locker?