Cards make right call on demoting Wong

News-DemocratApril 29, 2014 

It's funny how quickly things can change in the world of baseball.

Just a month ago Kolten Wong was handed the starting job at second base over veteran free agent Mark Ellis and Peter Bourjos was handed the keys to center field so incumbent Jon Jay could sit on the bench and polish his 2011 World Series and 2013 National League Championship rings which were won while he patroled the position.

Randal Grichuk, a throw-in in the trade that landed Bourjos in exchage for Jay's championship teammate David Freese made a big splash in spring training but was shipped to Class AAA Memphis for seasoning.

Fast forward to four weeks later Wong is in the minors, Grichuk made his major league debut Monday night and it is Bourjos who is doing the polishing in the dugout, albeit of the bench with his behind.

The Cardinals simply had to do something with Wong, Jhonny Peralta, and Allen Craig struggling to reach the .200 mark. And it made the most sense to send out the kids. It's not very often that veterans with long-term contracts are sent to work on their stroke in the minors.

But it doesn't bother me to see the changes for of a couple of reasons. First, the Redbirds have the depth to interchange a few parts and still be a contender. Second, I think it's important that the kids are sent a message -- and this doesn't apply only to Wong, but also all the young pitchers in the upper level of the organization and the glut of outfielders in the system -- that nothing is promised. They can't get comfortable and take it easy or someone is going to come along and take their job.

While I wasn't particularly excited about the way Wong has handled the bat in April -- or last October -- I was even more disturbed by his easygoing attitude about the demotion. It doesn't seem like he views the situation as his dreams flashing before his eyes. He just figures he'll go take a few hacks in Memphis, maybe get some barbeque, and then he'll be right back in the big leagues.

The Cardinals have an enviable amount of talent in their high minors and at the major league level. But they also have some unenviable decisions to make.

They don't have enough roster spots to hold all their young pitchers and outfielders. So some deals are going to have to be made sooner or later. The Redbirds need to figure out who the keepers are and who should be trade bait. This latest roster shuffle might be the first step in sorting it all out.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals had to make a move to try to shake things up because they simply can't afford to have four or five guys (depending on how the pitcher is faring at the plate) in the order who are hitting less than their weight.

So let's inject a steady veteran into the mix with Ellis at second base and see what a guy who was tearing the cover off the ball in Class AAA can do in the Big Show.

Grichuk got his feet wet Monday night with his first Major League Baseball plate appearances. I'd like to see him get a few starts to see if he can translate his groove to the highest level of the game. I have always thought that Grichuk, not Bourjos, was the prize of the Freese trade. I just didn't think we'd see him make it to the big leagues so quickly.

The nice thing about these moves is they can be reversed later if Wong suddenly remembers how to hit and Bourjos figures out how to improve on his .303 career on-base percentage. Everybody, for now at least, is still under the Cardianls roof.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at 239-2626 or You can read his Cardinals fan blog "View From the Cheap Seats" daily at Follow @scottwuerz on Twitter.

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