August 16, 2013

#Cardinals call up Wong; what's this mean for Freese?

In what seems to me to be a bit of a surprise move, the St. Louis Cardinals have called up from Memphis second baseman Kolten Wong, touted as the the team's No. 2 prospect after Oscar Taveras.

Regular Cards fans know the longer-term dominoes that Wong's call-up (assuming he makes the grade) entails, or seems to entail.

Matt Carpenter moves to third base, his more natural position, and David Freese gets traded, whether the Cards first sign him to another one-year arbitration deal, a longer-term deal, or not at all.

The bright side is that, with Freese's decline this year, this is a good move for this year.

The bad side is that Freese's continued decline made John Mozeliak decide to do this now instead of waiting for the expansion of rosters in September. That means it's going to be tougher to trade Freese in the offseason if he rides pine a lot.

Of course, Mo could run him through waivers. There's contender teams that could use a 3B of Freese's current level, let alone his potential based on the past two years. Red Sox immediately come to mind.

As for Wong? I've already blogged earlier this year about the Cardinals' baserunning problems. Those start with lack of stolen bases, which Wong will immediately address, but also include hitting into double plays, bad decisions on trying to stretch hits, or stretch advances for runners already on base, and more. Wong should give at least some help overall.

And, if Mo is this aggressive, what about manager Mike Matheny? Does this mean even more time for Matt Adams at first, with Allen Craig going to the OF and either Jon Jay or Matt Holliday taking more days off if slumping, or Carlos Beltran when in need of rest? Stay tuned.

That said, if Jay sits more, that's expecting either Craig or Beltran to play CF. Beltran's the better defensive choice, but that will tax him more.

On the not-so-good side, Taveras is down for the year, finally facing surgery on his troubled ankle. But, this will hopefully fix that high ankle sprain and have him ready for spring 2014.

Finally, on the Cards' infield, will Ryan Jackson get a pre-September 1 call-up? Will he challenge Pete Kozma for playing time?

Frankly, Jackson would be no better, folks. There's a reason he's still languishing in Memphis. Same age as Kozma, same lack of power, same so-so OBP and speed.

Calling up Wong will help. But, the only SS help the Cards are going to get this year is if they get one in return on a Freese waiver-wire trade. That's true for next year, too, unless they decide to re-sign Rafael Furcal and he has something in the tank. That said, Furcal only hit the 150-game mark once in the last six years.

And, all of this ties in with a post I did recently, taking an initial overview of what the Cardinals should do in this year's offseason.

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