St. Louis Cardinals: Opening Day Redbird Rants Mailbag
Zac and Liz H.: Wong needs to stay with the St. Louis Cardinals. Why should he leave?
Kolten Wong caused a stir this weekend when he said he’d rather be traded from the St. Louis Cardinals than platooned, though he later clarified those comments. It’s hard to expect an MLB player to be content not playing every day, so it’s no surprise that he’s frustrated.
From Wong’s perspective, a fresh start might be what he needs. He’s certainly been mismanaged in his time in St. Louis, and the resulting relationship between him and Mike Matheny likely won’t help his play.
From the team’s perspective, though, there’s really no reason to move him unless the consequences from his comments this weekend linger and cause problems in the clubhouse. Kolten Wong is an average MLB player, putting up 2.3 fWAR per 600 plate appearances during the last three years. Average MLB players with All-Star potential don’t grow on trees, and Wong is not particularly expensive.
Dan G. (@GiffordDs): If Wong starts off slow at the plate, does Mike Matheny have any choice but to ride it out with DeWitt’s and Mozeliak’s vote of confidence?
The St. Louis Cardinals front office stated a commitment to Kolten Wong this offseason. A horrible spring training for Wong appears to have changed that stance. Matheny has acted against the front office’s wishes in the past, though, most notably with Wong, Allen Craig, and Randal Grichuk, so I doubt he’s completely bought into the plan articulated in the offseason.
Even with Wong’s recent comments and slumping bat, I think he starts the season getting most of the plate appearances available at second base. He’s the team’s best defensive option at the position, and his range should also help Matt Carpenter as he transitions to first.
If Matheny does start Jedd Gyorko more often at the beginning of the season, particularly against left-handed pitching, I don’t see it lasting long. Gyorko is a notoriously slow starter, with a career .193 average and 56 wRC+ in April. He’ll have more than his fair share of terrible games at the plate, and Matheny’s reliance on small sample sizes will push Wong back in the lineup. Whoever starts to hit first will stick.