Yesterday was Redbird Rants’ day to ask the United Cardinals Bloggers postseason roundtable question. Having to go on the second day of the roundtable meant that all the good questions were not used up.
The question that I put up for discussion was this:
Two years removed from 2011 postseason heroics, David Freese did not have the best of seasons after starting off this season late due to injury.
Josh Gilliam: This is definitely the type of question the Cards are going to face in the next two-three years. I initially wanted to say Freese is trade bait, but his value is probably at an all-time low following the playoffs. With that in mind, I’m beginning to push for the David on the bench idea and going with Wong at 2B. Worst-case scenario is you have an expensive RH-bat that can fill in at 3B/1B/DH who goes elsewhere to find a starting spot.
My best-case is Wong and Carp play up to their combined potential, and Freese may be able to build up some extra value with a strong start to the 2014 campaign. He then becomes a possible trade target at the deadline.
Joe Schwarz: I slide Matt Carpenter over to third and insert Kolten Wong into the every second baseman role. I move on from David Freese, and I thank him for everything that he did in 2011.
Whether you like Kolten Wong or not, he is much more in the future plans than an aging, injury-proned David Freese. I wouldn’t be surprised if Freese played hurt all season–his bat was slowed, his speed was even slower than usual, and his throwing form was out of whack.
I would trade Freese. Platooning him at 3rd at Carpenter leaves one of the team’s best hitters out of the lineup, and they cannot afford to do that. Moving Carpenter to second when Freese plays slows Wong’s development. Wong needs regular reps in the field and at-bats at the big league level to fully develop.
Move Freese, but I do not think they can get much other than a replacement-level minor leaguer and cash from him. His best year is behind him, time to move on.
Ben Chambers: There’s really two positions that this question involves. If I’m Mozeliak, I would definitely let other teams know that for the right price, Freese is on the trading block, and that I am willing to package him with someone else if the other team is willing to trade away their SS. I don’t know how possible that is, and I think that the current rumors that have been swirling have been that the Cardinals may pick up a SS in free agency.
If Freese is on the roster coming into the regular season, and I’m in Matheny’s spot, then I would move Carpenter over to 3rd and put Wong over at 2nd. Freese didn’t do enough this season, and his postseason was disappointing. Wong has potential, but there’s no way to know what that potential is going to translate into if they don’t give him a chance to play every day.
Bill Ivie: You know, I was along the same thoughts as Joe earlier this offseason. The problem for me is – Freese is not that far removed from a decent season.
I wouldn’t mind seeing the season start with Freese at third and a bit of a three-man platoon that gets Wong some playing time. I am equally curious what impact the new approach had on some players. While the team seemed to thrive at times with the “hit the ball the other way and do not stress over home runs”, it seemed to cut some guys down. I would wager to say, between injury and trying to do something with his swing that does not fit him, Freese suffered. He may have a great season on a different team.
Tom Knuppel: Freese has been not much more than an average to slightly above average for his career except for a few weeks in 2011. With that said, I doubt he is much more than a good throw-in on a deal. His age is a factor for many teams as he is on the downward slope of his career (Superstars defy that theory). Also, Freese appears to have a problem every off-season by hitting a deer and that has to be a concern for the organization. So I would move Carpenter to third base and be sure to pick up a bench player that bats right handed (not named Ty Wigginton) for those times RH bat is needed.
Wong hasn’t done anything yet. It is all about potential. So he gets the starting spot and some time to make an impact.
Summary: try to trade Freese or throw him in and let Wong start at second base.
Daniel Shoptaw: Like others have said, Freese is at probably his lowest value ever. If he could be added to a deal, I would have no problem with him leaving town. That said, we’ve talked so much about the bench needing to be improved it would seem that he’s the best in-house option to do that. It also gives you the security to let Wong take some days off, especially if he starts struggling like he did earlier in the year.
If Freese can handle being second banana (does Imo’s have banana pizza?), I think there’s a place for him on the 2014 Cardinals.
Matt Whitener: I’m in a different camp when it comes to Freese I think:
For all of his struggles this season, Freese is exactly what the team is in desperate need of: a right-handed bat that CAN hit with power to the alleys. I tend to take a player’s best year and his worst year and throw it out, so I’m tossing 2012 and 2013 thus from Freese and calling it off. October gets the headlines, but 2011 was more along the lines of the player that Freese is, injuries included, but .290+ average and double figure doubles/home runs as well.
Now is that enough to warrant him as a starter full-time, perhaps not. But I feel that going ahead, with the mixture of veterans and youngsters melding, the only catcher and left field (and potentially shortstop if they make a move for one) are traditional “full-time” positions for the Cardinals. An everyday lineup is overrated in my opinion, and ensembles that dig on the full extent of talent available is just as much of a strength. So keeping Wong, Freese (who would be due around $4.4 mil after arbitration, not bad for a sometimes starter that brings a solid-if-not-spectacular righty bat to the mix) and Carpenter all together is a must.
There’s no guarantee that Carpenter does that again, just like there isn’t one that Wong booms (or busts). Play to the depth of the team’s options and get the best results.
Plus, for a team that already struggles with power potential, Matt Carpenter drastically lowers the club’s fence beating power by being a full-time 3B….his impact is much greater as a middle infielder.
Mark Sherrard: First of all, you do not platoon Carpenter with anyone, he hit .294 against lefties this season, so no platoon necessary.
So, to me, you either trade Freese or platoon him with Wong. At this point, it probably makes more sense to keep him and platoon him with Wong, at least until he can build up some trade value and/or Wong proves that he can hit major league pitching. Despite his struggles this year, Freese did hit .275 against lefties with 4 homers in 120 at bats and a .458 slugging percentage. With seemingly everyone else (besides Carpenter) struggling against lefties this season, I would hate to trade one of the guys who can actually hit them. With Wong being the left handed side of the platoon with Freese, he will get the lion’s share of the at bats and Freese will be a nice weapon to have coming off the bench.
John Nagel: The first thing that needs to be decided is if Freese gets offered arbitration. Remember, last year the Cards extended Allen Craig and bought out his remaining arbitration years, but not Freese’s. Assuming they will offer him, I think his spot next year is on the bench, with an occasional start.
Freese has little to no trade value now, and the Cards won’t be able to get a SS worth any value for just him. Since he will be cheap in 2014, why not keep him and use him off the bench? You never know what injuries could develop.
My ideal lineup has Carpenter at third and Wong at second, with those two at the top of the lineup (although both being left handed bothers me a little).
Matt Whitener: Ideally, I would hope that Wong hits at the bottom of the order in the Kozma spot. Although he is a high average hitter in the minors, and has speed to burn, he hasn’t shown himself to be much of an alley-to-alley guy yet. Of course that should change, but hopefully the goal of the offseason is the strength the bottom half of the lineup, which was so dreadfully empty (again) this year.
Much of this depends on what move is made at shortstop, and which David Freese shows up next year (because I completely buy into the idea that he was hurt the entire summer), but keeping both Wong and Freese has assets to help the bottom of the lineup would hopefully be the course of action here.
Dan Buffa: It’s hard to think of Freese and not get a little emotional. The local kid who came here in a deal for departing slugger Jim Edmonds who turned into an unlikely World Series hero in 2011 is a fine story to tell your kids but these days that is all it amounts to. An older story. Freese’s heroics did happen just two years ago and he put together a fine 2012 season which begs the question of whether to keep him or not. My answer is only if he wants to be a bench player. Part time at best and most of the time a late inning pinch hitter/DH/injury backup. His days as a starting third baseman are over. Blame it on injury or something else, but I’d say its a ceiling collision of one man’s talent with the ever growing pitching surplus of Major League Baseball. Kolten Wong deserves the opportunity to get a healthy dose of at bats at second base and no way will Matheny take out Carpenter’s bat, fluke or not. David Freese will have to decide if he wants to play full time for a lot less elsewhere or will he take a seat on the bench and earn 4 million here where there is a guaranteed chance of winning. Paying him 4 million won’t be stupid. Signing a veteran as good or less than Freese will likely cost you more. This decision comes down to Freese. Hopefully Mo is blunt with David in those talks. Do you want to be a part time contributor/pinch hitter here or a full time player somewhere else a little bit less awesome? His age and the Cards burgeoning vessel of youth puts this Lou Hero on the bubble.
Chris Mallonee: Unless there was an unrevealed injury in 2013, I would not build any plans around David Freese at 3B. His bat slowed, his approach weakened as the year went on, and this for a guy who’s a career 55% groundball hitter with an extensive injury history. He has been a great tide-me-over 3B while prospects ready (with some exceptional post-season heroics), but he has never been an above average third basemen offensively and a liability defensively.
That said, I think Mo should retain him at a reasonable arbitration range as he would provide much needed RH pop off the bench, and always there should the starting 3B get injured or not perform as expected. And keeping Freese as a bench player would keep a large portion of the STL fan base happy.
Mark Tomasik: David Freese deserves a shot at a comeback season with the Cardinals. Kolten Wong didn’t show he is ready yet to be the everyday second baseman. I’d bring back Freese for another season and give him a shot to be the everyday third baseman.
Christine Coleman: I’m on board with keeping David Freese, but using him off the bench most of the time while having Matt Carpenter as the starting third baseman and Kolten Wong at second. As many have already said, I don’t think his trade value is very high right now so I don’t see much of an option there and, as has also been said, he could offer that right-handed power option in pinch-hitting situations that’s very much needed.