Wong's promotion sends clear message to Cardinals

Wong's promotion sends clear message to Cardinals

Credit: Getty Images

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 16: General Manager John Mozeliak of the St. Louis Cardinals speaks at a press conference at Roger Dean Stadium on February 16, 2011 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** John Mozeliak

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by Brian Feldman / BaseballStL

KMOV.com

Posted on August 16, 2013 at 2:01 PM

(BaseballStL) -- Well, that certainly got people talking, didn’t it?  Cards GM John Mozeliak’s decision to bring up second base prospect - and 2011 first round draft pick - Kolten Wong to the big leagues sent major shockwaves through Cardinal Nation. 

It shows multiple things here.  First and foremost, he’s running out of patience waiting for the offense to pick up and decided it needed a significant jolt.  And since fellow top prospect Oscar Taveras is out for the season with a surgical procedure scheduled to address his lingering ankle injury, Wong was the only realistic jolt available in the minor league system. 

Second, this cannot be good - even in the slightest - for third baseman and hometown hero David Freese.  Kolten Wong was not brought up to St. Louis to sit around on the bench and wait for an at-bat in the 8th inning as a pinch hitter. 

He hit .303 with a .369 on-base percentage this season for AAA-Memphis, clubbing 10 home runs and stealing 20 bases.  He’s your starter at second base.

Since we all know Matt Carpenter is a more natural third baseman and going absolutely nowhere, that leaves Freese as the odd man out.  It’s rough.  But it’s also part of sports... and life. 

No one cares what you did two Octobers ago - even if it was a month for the ages that will be remembered decades from now. 

Heck, even 2012 was a pretty darn good season for the Wildwood native.  In 501 at-bats Freese hit .293 with an .839 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and 20 home runs.  You don’t think the Cardinals would take that? 

The problem is 2011 was 2011 and 2012 was 2012.  This is 2013.  And the only thing that matters is “what have you done for me lately.”

Freese is hitting just .269 this season with, remarkably, only six home runs.  His on-base percentage is down, too, but it all comes back to the power. 

All things being equal, Kolten Wong is younger (by nearly eight years), cheaper and under club control for much longer (six seasons compared to just two).  Wong also hits for a higher average than Freese and has significantly more speed.

It also doesn’t help that Freese is in the middle of a 7-31 (.226 avg) funk over his last 10 games.

The one thing the 2011 World Series hero has that Wong does not is the ability to hit 25-30 home runs.  Even Freese’s 20 homers last season would be sufficient.  But six?  On pace for a measly eight?  I’m sorry.  His one advantage over the younger, cheaper, healthier Wong just isn’t showing up this year. 

And now that the Cardinals offense is dragging - combined with the fact Oscar Taveras’ much-anticipated debut is pushed to 2014- Mozeliak sees he has to do something now. 

He sees an offense that’s scored just 13 runs in its last six losses. 

This could be a platoon situation where the two guys split time with Matt Carpenter moving back and forth between second and third base.  It could be more than that (i.e. Freese being relegated to the bench role Ty Wigginton once held). 

A lot remains to be seen and I’m sure it’ll depend on each individual’s performance. 

But no matter how you slice it, this Wong’s promotion sends a multitude of messages across Cardinal Nation.

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