ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Anywhere you look people are saying the Cardinals are in need of offense when it comes to the July 31 trade deadline. And that’s about right. The Redbirds are in fact still among the bottom in baseball in runs scored.
They’ve scored a measly 335 runs in 91 games. Only the Braves and Padres have scored fewer (actually, Atlanta’s at 333 but has played one fewer game – so if you’re getting technical the Cards have the next-to-worst offense in MLB).
Opinions vary on where help can come from. Some point to center field. Some point to second base – or third base by moving Matt Carpenter back to second. Others insist getting those already in uniform to play better is the best way to go.
Watch Wong's walk-off HR
Well, unless GM John Mozeliak is willing to give up prized cost-controlled players like Carlos Martinez and/or Oscar Taveras, he probably won’t be getting any sort of transformative talent that can reshape the scope of this lineup. The last option among those three – players better internally – might be the likeliest.
Kolten Wong, the hero of Tuesday night’s game against the Pirates, is chief among those who can make a difference.
You see, Allen Craig getting his swing going would be nice, but at least the Cardinals have another option there. His name is Oscar Taveras. There is not another viable option at 2nd base. Not unless you’re excited by Mark Ellis and his .192 batting average and his .268 on-base percentage.
Sure the Cards could shift All Star Matt Carpenter back to second base. But who plays third? Jhonny Peralta, you say? Okay, then who plays shortstop? The cycle goes on and on until there’s nothing left but some guy who doesn’t hit.
Kolten Wong has been an elite hitter at the minor leagues all throughout his time in the system. He’s hit .300 with his eyes practically closed and is among the most athletic guys on the roster.
You can’t take 299 career at-bats in the big leagues and decide what someone is going to look like two or three years down the road based on that. Sure, it’s been a struggle overall for Wong. No one wants to look up and see a .238 batting average by your name.
He expects better out of himself and the team does too. But he also has hit two home runs in the last three games and – when at his best in the minors – always had an underrated amount of pop in his bat. There’s no one else the Cards have on the team that can do remotely close to what Wong does.
The Cardinals need several guy on the team to get going offensively between now and the end of the season. But Wong’s emergence is about as important to them as anyone.