Cheaps Seats: Cardinals' Freese appears to have issues

April 30, 2013 

Either Mark McGwire was the greatest hitting coach who ever lived or else the St. Louis Cardinals' David Freese's back is still bothering him.

Freese is hitting more than 100 points below his career batting average and 80 points below his career on-base percentage with no signs of coming out of the swoon any time soon.

I really think Freese's back is still bothering him because he doesn't seem to be able to extend his arms and put any power into his stroke. Typically, he hits best from center field to the right-center field gap. But Freese seems to be jumping at the ball and trying to pull more than he usually does. Basically he's hitting with his arms and not with his core.

Back problems aren't going to magically go away. If Freese is still hurting, he needs to shut it down and get better. Otherwise this is going to be one of those problems that lingers all year. I'd rather lose him for a couple of weeks now and get him well than have a whole season of him playing at 75 percent.

While he's trying to help the team, he's not only failing in that endeavor. Freese is also damaging his ability to try to get a long-term contract. This poor start is doing nothing to dispel the notion that he's brittle. And, now past his 30th birthday, that's going to cause even more concern.

McGwire certainly did a lot to help Freese. But I just don't believe it's the hitting coach, now John Mabry, who is to blame for the struggling third baseman's woes. When I watch him swing, he just doesn't look comfortable.

Bullpen moves

I think every Cardinals fan can understand why the team would make a move -- some move, any move, to try to shake up the St. Louis bullpen.

But, with that being said, I am still scratching my head at both the player the Birds sent out, and the one they called up to take his place.

Marc Rzepczynski, whom the Cardinals traded for in 2011 as part of the Colby Rasmus deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, was the drawer of the short straw. Granted, he's been pretty bad with a 7.88 ERA thanks to 13 hits allowed in eight innings of work.

But those crummy numbers don't stand out in the awful St. Louis bullpen. Mitchell Boggs has an ERA of 12.66 and Joe Kelly's is up to 8.31 after a bad weekend.

And why Seth Maness?

He's a talented prospect. But he wasn't exactly dominating Class AAA hitters. He's allowed 34 hits in 25 innings in four starts at Memphis. That's by far the most of any Memphis starter including John Gast who has started five games. In 23 innings of work Michael Wacha has surrendered 14 hits.

I'm glad that the Cardinals did something with the bullpen. But I'm not inspired that this move is going to be a difference maker. It's probably more of a statement to the other relievers that they better get their act together than it is a nuts and bolts move to improve the results of the St. Louis pen.

Pirates' Sanchez

The Cardinals won't have Jonathan Sanchez to kick around anymore in their race for the National League Central Division crown.

The hurler, who St. Louisans last saw when he gave up home runs to Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran to lead off a game against the Pirates before surrendering a single to Matt Holliday and then going head hunting against Allen Craig, has been designated for assignment by Pittsburgh.

Sanchez was 0-3 with an 11.85 ERA in five starts for the Pirates.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at 239-2626 or You can see his Cardinals fan blog 'From the Cheap Seats' daily at

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