2006-2007 Cardinals by Position: Second Base

The second in a new series analyzing each position on the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals ball club and grading the outlook for 2007.

The St. Louis Cardinals relied on a platoon of second basemen in 2006, using Aaron Miles and Hector Luna early in the season. After a midseason trade which shipped Luna to Cleveland for Ronnie Belliard, Miles pretty much dropped out of the picture as Belliard took the main starting position at second base. Then, after the Cardinals won the World Series, Belliard basically dropped off the team's radar as he had failed to put up the same consistent offensive numbers as in Cleveland. His defense was great, but his bat went cold in St. Louis.

The Cardinals looked at several options this off-season, and many would agree that the signing of Adam Kennedy was a great one. He came at an inexpensive price (three years, $10 million dollars), bringing a consistent bat and an above-average glove.

After playing 29 games for the Cardinals as a rookie in 1999, Kennedy spent the next seven seasons with the now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He had career highs in double plays in 2000 with 106, and a career low in errors in 2005 with only five. His fielding percentage that year was .991.

In 2006, Kennedy had only nine errors and took part in 76 double plays. The year he had a career-best 106 double plays was 2002 - the season the Angels won the World Series title. The Cardinals already have one vital piece of that '02 Anaheim team - David Eckstein. With Eckstein and Kennedy reunited as double play partners once again, the Cardinals will benefit from their attitude and work ethic. Kennedy was named the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player in 2002, while Eckstein later went on to win the World Series MVP with the Cardinals in 2006.

The two players are great friends, and that connection should trigger positive vibes in the clubhouse, especially good given rumored problems there last year. Kennedy is definitely a team player, and he wanted to be a Cardinal. He brings a lot to the table as a defensive second baseman, but he also has defined himself an above-average hitter at the plate.

The 31-year old Kennedy has been consistent throughout his career as a batter, but has shown signs of more patience at the plate as his career has progressed. His career high in batting average came in 2002, when he hit .312. He had only 474 plate appearances that year, but he also put up 65 runs, 32 doubles, six triples, seven home runs, 52 RBI's, 19 walks, and 17 stolen bases. In Kennedy's most recent season (2006), here is his stat line:

































That isn't bad at all for a 30-year old second baseman in the American League, which is supposedly full of the best pitchers in baseball.

Overall, Kennedy should flourish in St. Louis, where a mediocre National League Central should help him a lot. While hitting has been something of a plus in this Division, pitching has been down for some time, especially with the Cubs, Pirates, and Reds. The Astros still have a few big name pitchers (although they lost Andy Pettitte to the Yankees and Roger Clemens isn't likely to be back), but the Cardinals and Brewers seem sure bets to have the two best pitching staffs in the Central Division.

Kennedy is a lot like Eckstein, as he tends to battle at the plate, waiting for the perfect pitch to send up the middle or into the outfield gaps. Pitchers hate to face batters like Kennedy, and this style has always brought success to Eckstein - a sure sign that Kennedy will fit right in with the Cardinals' aggressive style and the National League Central's weak pitching.

Aaron Miles will be back this year, providing depth at second base that should help the team out a lot if Adam Kennedy were to go down with an injury. Miles showed the ability to hit the ball both ways last season, and was a valuable member of the World Series championship team.

Miles didn't receive as much playing time at second after Ronnie Belliard arrived, but still continued to play a vital role in the clubhouse and in pinch-hitting situations where his bat was needed. Expect Miles to see limited playing time in '07 unless something unexpected happens to Kennedy.

Scott Spiezio and So Taguchi are other players who could step in and play a little bit of second base, but neither will probably see any playing time there this year with the likes of Kennedy and Miles ahead of them. Veteran utilityman Jolbert Cabrera is a non-roster invitee to spring training and a long-shot to make the 2007 club.

Overall Position Grade: B-

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