Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak made a move last night, shaking up the bag in the hopes of generating some more offense following a rough 10 days where the offense scored very little. Outfielder Shane Robinson was optioned to Memphis in the predictable move for Randal Grichuk. The surprising move, however, was optioning Kolten Wong in favor of his former college teammate Greg Garcia.
Wong, who was the Cardinals’ starting second baseman and the future at the position just a month ago, now finds himself on a plane back to Memphis for another stint in Triple-A. Wong appeared to be turning a slow start around right before the return of Mark Ellis, his highly paid backup, off the disabled list. Ellis began getting more and more of the playing time after his arrival.
Wong is even the best hitter thus far among potential second baseman on the St. Louis roster with his .225 average. Even his last 10-day average of .167 is better than Ellis’ season .111 average and Daniel Descalso‘s .100 average. Wong also owns the last two hits by any of the three.
The team even spoke in the offseason about how Wong was slow to get going at every level of the minors as he progressed through, but once he figured it out he hit very well. This is also the guy we traded David Freese to make room for. But in the last couple weeks as Ellis returned, we started hearing manager Mike Matheny talk about how Wong was struggling with his swing. However Wong had hits in 6 of his previous 7 games when Ellis came off the DL. The drop in his batting average has come as Ellis has taken playing time away.
That’s not to say I don’t like Greg Garcia. While he’s not been a highly touted player moving through the system, he has me intrigued, much like Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig did. He just happens to hit at every level of the minors, almost without fail. His ability to stick at shortstop was always in question, with most people saying that he would have moved to second base before now if it wasn’t for Wong being there every step of the way (they played together in college and at multiple levels of the minors).
In the outfield, I’d long been a proponent of Randal Grichuk making the team’s opening day lineup, though I understood the argument against it considering he’d never played above Double-A. Grichuk provided power, something severely lacking off the St. Louis bench this season. I figured the floor for him was going to be what you could expect out of Robinson, which made it a no brainer move. Now we will see.
Will these moves do the trick? Not sure. While I still struggle to understand why Kolten Wong gets the trip to Memphis, because it doesn’t make sense whatever way you slice it, I am glad that Grichuk gets to arrive in St. Louis and that we’ll finally get to see Greg Garcia get an opportunity. Hopefully, Wong forces his way back to St. Louis over the next couple weeks.
Grichuk is definitely an improvement over Robinson. With his ability, he could be a game changer late in games off the bench, well, if Matheny knew how to manage late in games well. If he can continue how he’s hit in Memphis, he may also take away some starts in center field from Jay and Bourjos.