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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

TCN blog 2013 top story #12: The Freese-Bourjos trade

The St. Louis Cardinals looked ahead rather than backward when making a major trade on November 22. The club dealt away two top 2011 contributors and got younger in an attempt to improve their 2014 play in centerfield.

Specifically, third baseman David Freese, a 2011 post-season hero and St. Louis native and relief pitcher Fernando Salas, who saved 24 games that summer, are now Los Angeles Angels.

In exchange, the Cards acquired two outfielders – major leaguer Peter Bourjos and prospect Randal Grichuk.

Salas, 28, had spent much of 2013 at Triple-A Memphis, having been passed by other pitchers in the Cardinals relief hierarchy after being unable to replicate his strong 2011.

Like Salas, Freese was arbitration-eligible. The 30-year-old was due for a raise after a pair of disappointing seasons as the Cardinals’ every-day player at the hot corner. Freese will be replaced at third base by Matt Carpenter, with rookie Kolten Wong the front-runner to take over second.

The right-handed hitting Bourjos, 26, is considered to be a Gold Glove-caliber defender, having made just seven errors in over 2,500 innings played. He will likely be the new starter in centerfield, replacing Jon Jay. Bourjos has three more seasons under team control before potentially becoming free agent eligible following the 2016 season.

Grichuk, 22, was the Angels’ first round selection (24th overall) in the 2009 draft, taken one pick ahead of Mike Trout. The Texan was the Halos’ sixth-ranked prospect prior to this season, according to Baseball America. Bringing power potential to a system that is relatively weak in that area, I expect Grichuk to join Stephen Piscotty and James Ramsey in a star-studded Memphis outfield for 2014.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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14 Responses to “TCN blog 2013 top story #12: The Freese-Bourjos trade”

  1. […] The Craig-Adams two-step 14. Peralta, PEDs and penalties 13. Steady, unsteady rotation middle 12. The Freese-Bourjos trade 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. […]

  2. Bw52 says:

    great trade.Say it loud and often.It was a great trade.

  3. blingboy says:

    “The right-handed hitting Bourjos, 26, is considered to be a Gold Glove-caliber defender, having made just seven errors in over 2,500 innings played.”

    Jay has made 5 errors in over 3,800 innings.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    “after a pair of disappointing seasons as the Cardinals everyday player at the hot corner”

    This statement is an error. During 2012, Freese had an OPS of 839, his most successful campaign in the majors, reaching 20 HRs. There have not been a pair of disappointing seasons, as claimed. 2013 was disappointing and may have felt like two seasons, but mercifully for Cards fans it was in fact just one.

    • Brian Walton says:

      You were not disappointed in Freese’s 2012. OK, you are entitled to your opinion, but that is what it is. Here is my view as to why I call it a disappointing year.

      Coming off an injury-plagued 2011 regular season, Freese had a huge NLCS and World Series, in which he was MVP. As a result, 2012 expectations were high that he would become a consistent run producer. It did not happen.

      Freese started 2012 strongly. In the first half, he had 13 home runs and 51 RBI and looked like he was on his way. Since the 2012 break, it has not been good. In the second half of 2012, his power and production almost completely disappeared. He managed just seven home runs and 28 RBI after the break, despite remaining off the DL for the first time ever. (We got a continuation of his second half of 2012 production during 2013.)

      Freese ended 2012 fifth on the team in home runs. Despite being the number five hitter on the second-highest scoring team in the league, he had just 79 runs batted in over 144 games. Freese had a good DS average-wise, but just one RBI. He was relatively quiet in the CS, batting just .192 against the Giants as the Cards were eliminated.

      So from my vantage point, Freese had a good first half and a subpar second half of 2012. The fifth-place hitter on a playoff team finishing with just 79 RBI in a healthy year was below my expectations. Unlike 2011, Freese was a not a major factor in the 2012 post-season.

      It was quite obvious that the Cardinals had concerns coming off the 2012 season. Allen Craig received a long contract extension while Freese did not, despite the two having comparable experience. Previously, other Cardinals considered core players had received multi-year deals at that point of their careers (Wainwright, Molina, Garcia, etc…). Freese and the team submitted arbitration amounts before settling on a one-year deal for 2013 as whispers about his future became more prevalent. Did that play into his bad 2013? I don’t know, but 2012 was the launching point for the concerns.

      Bottom line, I would surely agree that Freese’s 2013 was more disappointing, but I had expected more in 2012.

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