Once the final out of the Memphis Redbirds’ loss in the Triple-A Championship Game was secured on the night of September 22, the St. Louis Cardinals announced that four players would be joining the major league club the next day in Houston. Coming into the final month, the team had made it clear they would not disrupt the eventual Pacific Coast League champs if at all possible while they were still playing and lived up to their pledge.
The four promotions represent the smallest September call up total for the Cardinals in recent years and not coincidentally, it was Memphis’ first championship since 2000. With just ten games remaining in the 2009 MLB regular season by that point, there seemed little reason to add a boatload of extra players at the first city of the three-stop final road trip.
The four added are infielders Tyler Greene and David Freese (pictured), right-handed reliever Josh Kinney and catcher Matt Pagnozzi. The former three had been with the major league club during the season while Pagnozzi was first required to be placed onto the organization’s 40-man roster.
Other Memphis contributors sent home included infielder/outfielder Allen Craig, second baseman Jarrett Hoffpauir, left-handers Jaime Garcia and Royce Ring and right-hander P.J. Walters. All except Craig have MLB experience. Of them, there seemed to be the greatest fan uproar over Craig, Memphis’ top hitter for most of the season, but a player without a clear home defensively.
Given all the gnashing of teeth of these moves and non-moves, I thought it would be illustrative to look back to see how much action the four call ups actually received in their ten big league games in late September and early October.
As you can see, there really isn’t much to talk about. The three position players were given a total of just two starts and 21 plate appearances, 18 official at-bats.
Pagnozzi went hitless in three at-bats, though he did coax a walk and scored. Greene went 1-for-3 while Freese saw the majority of the time. The third baseman experienced feast or famine with seven hits in 12 at-bats, including a home run, five RBI, but also fanned four times.
Kinney tossed three scoreless innings, a major improvement over his 10.95 ERA coming into the call up, which had been accrued over 15 earlier outings.
With the limited amount of playing time available to these players once Memphis’ season was over, there isn’t much more to say except that Freese looked good – other than perhaps during his first professional appearance behind the plate, that is.
At this early point of the off-season, Freese is the on-paper leader to start at third base next season, while Greene and Pagnozzi could compete for reserve roles. Ditto for Kinney in the bullpen, though none of the latter three are locks to make the major league squad in the spring.
One footnote is that it was rumored that the Cardinals would have liked to find a way for Freese to join their NLDS roster, a move I had earlier predicted. However, with no injured players heading into post-season action, the club had no eligible players to be replaced by the third baseman.