With their (formerly) hot hitting outfielder cooling off and their young second baseman cooling his heels on the bench lately, the St. Louis Cardinals have made a couple of roster moves.
Gone to Class AAA Memphis are fifth outfielder Shane Robinson and infielder Kolten Wong. To the majors come flychaser Randal Grichuk, acquired in the David Freese trade over the off-season, and shortstop Greg Garcia. This is the first trip to the major leagues for both of the youngsters.
Grichuk was the one of the most productive Memphis starters with a .310 average, three homers, a triple and eight doubles. He led the Redbirds with 17 runs batted in. Garcia was only batting .267 but he had five homers, three triples and a pair of doubles.
A righthanded batter, Grichuk will likely give Jon Jay a platoon partner at the very least. He surely didn't come to St. Louis to sit on the bench. Jay had been playing well, taking back his starting job in centerfield. But his average has dropped to .268 with his third-consecutive hitless start Sunday. It seems that the other guy in the David Freese trade, Peter Bourjos with his .163 batting average, will be bumped to fifth outfielder status.
I have been anticipating for a couple of days -- despite the denials of GM John Mozeliak and skipper Mike Matheny -- that the Cardinals were about to make a move to jolt some life into the major-league roster. But I was a bit surprised Grichuk was the choice because he's in his first year at the Class AAA level. It seems that the team is rushing him a bit.
Grichuk is too valuable of a prospect to toy with. I don't think the Birds would have summoned him to St. Louis if they didn't think he was going to have a chance to make an impact. If they were going for shock value, they could have called up outfielder Joey Butler who is six years older than Grichuk and let the younger player continue to collect four at-bats a day in Memphis.
I wonder if top prospect Oscar Taveras, who plays the same position as Grichuk, was upset at the news that he's being passed over. He's played well in Memphis so far and seems to be finding a groove. So I doubt the Cardinals were trying to send him a message.
Wong was in a slump. But I didn't anticipate that he was on the verge of getting demoted. Especially after the Cardinals stuck with him through a lousy September call up and an equally uninspiring opening road trip.
Comments Wong made about being "comfortable" and not worried about his hitting make me wonder if the Cardinals thought he needed a reality check as much as he needed to work on his swing.
Grichuk, who wore 88 in spring training, is unlikely to get the number 21 jersey he wore in Memphis as it's occupied in St. Louis by Allen Craig. Garcia, interestingly, wore number 5 in Memphis. The Cardinals wouldn't pass out Albert Pujols' old number, would they?