Posts Tagged ‘David Freese’

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The St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Angels pulled off one of the more intriguing deals of the offseason on Friday afternoon, with the Cardinals sending third baseman David Freese and pitchers Fernando Salas to LA in return for outfielders Peter Bourjos and minor league outfielder Randal Grichuk. For both teams, the deal represented a pursuit to fill in positions in need of upgrade, yet both solutions come at the hope of an upside swing of two different varieties.

On the Angels End: Anaheim has long been in need of a steady answer at third base, as they have been chasing a solution at the position since Chone Figgins departed a few years back. Alberto Callaspo had manned the role over the past few seasons, but he was more of an over-extended utility man than anything else. In Freese, they make a move for a player who carries a career .286 average and never has a season with an on-base percentage south of .340, and is just a year removed from a .293/.372/.467 2012 split, all numbers that surpassed Callaspo’s best campaign substantially.

However, Freese comes with some risk, as he’s never completed a season without at least one disabled list stint. Also, he showed major regression in 2013, as he steadily struggled with the strike zone, in addition to limited range in the field. He is an absolute upgrade from a situation that was looking to be filled by Andrew Romine or Chris Nelson as of yesterday, and saw little to no full-time solutions on the free agent market. Freese is an immediate plug and play upgrade, whom can take some time at designated hitter.

Salas has a diverse history in the bullpen, manning nearly every role in the Cardinal bullpen over the past four years, but is likely to have to compete for a role in the LA pen in the spring.

On the Cardinals End: It is a deal that represented an opportunity to get a piece that was not an absolute necessity, but too good to pass on in Bourjos. A 27-year-old, low cost outfielder that covers as much ground as any player in baseball in the outfield, he is an absolute upgrade in the Cardinal outfield that has suffered from limited range for the majority of the past two years. Bourjos also presents a speed element that has been non-existent in the station-to-station Cardinal lineup for some time as well.

As well, the team the team acquired one of the Angels’ top prospects (in an organization devoid of much talent beneath the Majors) in Grichuk. He is projected to be a strong candidate for development and should remain in the Top 10 prospects within the substantially deeper Cardinal system.

The move creates even further financial freedom for the Cardinals, as Freese was due for a raise in the neighborhood of $4.4 million for his second time through arbitration this winter. Salas was a candidate to be non-tendered this offseason by St. Louis, so including him in the deal was likely a throw in. The Cardinals get a crucial extra year of club control in Bourjos, who is not scheduled to hit free agency until after the 2016 season and makes just over $1 million currently.

Bourjos creates a multitude of options in how the Cardinals will handle their 2013 roster.

Bourjos creates a multitude of options in how the Cardinals will handle their 2013 roster, as he has played every outfield position, and enables Jon Jay and Oscar Taveras more flexibility.

The Dominos: The aftermath of the deal is in an instant fill in for the Angels, but also the loss of a player that projected to be their top offseason trade chip in Bourjos. While Freese fills a need, the Angels greatest problem is their lack of starting pitching depth. No player on their team created more interest than the young, cost-controlled Bourjos, and by not getting a starting pitcher in return for him, they likely will be forced to spend (over overspend) even more in the free agent market to remedy this issue.

The theme of the trade continues to revolve around starting pitching for the Cardinals as well, who manage to avoid having to include anyone from their stockpile of quality starting pitching within the deal. That likely would have been a non-starter within the deal, unless shortstop Erick Aybar was included as well, which was discussed but could not be settled upon.

Also of importance for the Cardinals, is the trade cleared up the pending infield time jam between Freese, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong. Carpenter can now return to third base, while Wong can inherit the second base job freely.

The Winner:  It was a swap of expendable players for both sides, and ones with similarly questionable health histories as well as potential to have much greater seasons than they are coming off. But in the end the Cardinals win out as much for getting the plus tooled Bourjos as the Angels lose in trading him for a return less than he could have netted.

For more on the Cardinals evolving offseason in real-time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For more Cardinal coverage, head to I70 Baseball and The Sports Fan Journal for the game, the culture and the events.

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There’s always a lot of talk about who deserves to make the All-Star Game, and then it is always followed by even more about who should have made it that didn’t. Even with the expanded All-Star rosters and vote after the vote campaigns put into the motion over the last few years, there will always be far too many Stars and not enough spaces.

Even after the enormous rosters become even bigger, and injuries help to even the honors out (thus why the exiting Chipper Jones won’t be mentioned below), the initial roster still says the most about the regard that guy’s season holds. While it can never been exact science, there are still those victims of happenstance that never make sense. And with that, I bring to you the CHEAP SEATS top 10 All-Snubs of 2012.

10. Michael Bourn: He’s bringing it all together this year. The shock isn’t that he’s back close to the top of the NL in steals again, it’s that he’s doing it hitting over .300 (he’s a career .274 hitter) and is hitting the ball over the fence as well (he’s hit 7 of his 20 career homers in the first half of this year). He’s been the best day-to-day hitter in the Braves lineup this year, including ASG starter Dan Uggla.

9. Scott Downs: The most effective, shutdown closer that nobody is paying attention to this year. After a brief fill in as closer, he moved back to full-time set up man and still was shutdown material. His total runs surrendered through his shifting? One; good for a 0.36 ERA.

8. Johnny Cuerto: He wasn’t picked for the team and hasn’t been bashful about attributing this to a bias from his potential manager to be in the game. But of the NL starter snubs, his is pretty resounding. His 2.26 ERA is the second lowest of healthy, eligible starters. If only he hadn’t bit, or kicked, the hand he needed to feed him this year.

7. Matt Holliday: It’s an amazing year for NL outfielders, but he should have still made his way in the mix. His 51 RBI are the most of any player not headed to the game, and followed up a .340 May average with a .363 June. He’s raised his average nearly 50 points in the last two weeks, and has more RBI than games played over that time span.

6. David Freese: Current biggest star in St. Louis has made it his business to show that last October was far from a fluke. Pushed out of the game by the fan vote for Pablo Sandoval, he’s second in home runs (13), RBI (48) and batting average (.286) out of all NL third basemen.

Freese is leading the Final Vote in the NL currently, but the fact he’s even a candidate is a crime.

5. Jason Kipnis: The Indians second year, second baseman may very well be the best player not named Cano at second base in the AL. Not only has he popped out 11 home runs, he’s added 20 steals as well. Ian Kinsler benefitted strongly from having his guy picking the team, because that’s the only way he’s headed to KC over Kipnis.

4. Aaron Hill: If all was even to performance and impact, Hill would be the starter at second base. He leads NL second basemen in average and home runs after hitting .370 in June, and completing the cycle twice during the span. More importantly, he’s pull the D’Backs back in to mix in the West.

3. Tyler Clippard: Washington’s closer of the moment has long been the most effective and versatile reliever in the game, and made an All-Star appearance last year. However, a year later his finest performance goes unrewarded. After the Nationals tried seemingly 25 different closers this year, they finally turned to Clippard who responded with 13 saves after building up 10 holds in front his predecesors already. He’s been a huge reason why the Nats have been able to hold their position at the top of the East.

2. A.J. Pierzynski: The intangibles have always been there, and the numbers are better than ever for him this year as well. The White Sox backstop leads all AL catchers in home runs and RBI. What’s the worst thing about this omission is that no less than two other backups were taken over him. All of this is caused because of the fact that the fan vote sent the fourth best catcher in the league to answer the starting call, but Matt Wieters should have been made to miss out, not AJ.

1. Zack Grienke: This is an oversight simply because of the caliber of season that is being had by seemingly unnoticed by one of the best players in the game. Despite the Brewers turning down, and trade waters running up on his shores, Greinke is turning in his best performance since his Cy Young season three years ago. He has 106 strikeouts while winning nine games with a 3.06 ERA.

 

Something tells me that he’s first on the waiting list for when the inevitable pitching replacement comes down over the next week, but there’s something to be said for making it on the first call. And then there is something to be said for it not happening as well. But at least he’s not alone in this notion.

 

For more on the injustices being made right and the road to the best All-Star break of em all, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

Jim Edmonds’ shot off Roger Clemens. Mark Whiten’s four homer day. Fernando Tatis’ double Grand Slam inning. Ozzie’s opening day flip. Albert’s bash party in the ’11 series. Jack Buck bringing the nation back together after 911. The last out of game 5 of the 2006 World Series.

I’ve been treated to some phenomenally great moments in St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball. I’ve been watching the team since I was about four in 1987. However, my top 5 moments Cardinal moments of all-time each have a personal connection to me like very few other things in life so far. They are the things that make me into the fan I am now. They are what build up the passion for the team and what new memories have to strive to overcome. At the same time, they are what holds things together when everything isn’t so great.

It’s the essence of true fanhood to hold the accomplishments you witness your favorite club achieve and how they weave their way into your life that makes sports unique. It is these events that make them “your” team. So without any further ado, these are “my” top 5 Cardinal moments of all-time.

5. McGwire’s 62nd (1998): Everywhere across the country the conversation was simple and always started off the same: “Did he hit one tonight?”

That was the rhetoric nationwide, but the anticipation to Cardinals’ games was everything actually inside of St. Louis. And for me, it all happened at the perfect time, at the perfect age and for the perfect team. I was 13, kind of struggling with the lure of other sports and it was the Cardinals of all teams to have the entire buzz around. I probably saw Mac hit seven or eight homers at Busch that summer, and it was an environment like none other. I even got him to sign a baseball for me outside of Busch II that I’ve still got in a plaque to this day at my Mom’s house.

McGwire's assault on the record book in '98 revived the pulse of baseball around the country.

However, it was the 62nd one that was really the “WOW” of them all, and ironically, it was the shortest of them all. I was riding home from a fall league game of my own and my Mom turned on the radio and we listened to it happen. And then driving down the streets of St. Louis, far away from downtown where the madness happened, everyone driving down the street honked their horns and yelled out the windows and in that moment, baseball was king of the country. Unforgettable moment and nothing that has happened since can lessen that for me.

4. Dmitri Young’s triple vs. the Braves (1996): The Cards had went from terrible to great in a hurry in 1996, and in those days if you did that, you were bound to tangle with the Braves. The Cards got up in the series 2-1, but John Smoltz was mowing them down that day, and any advantage you could get up on those Braves pitchers, you had to hold it. After John Mabry & Tom Pagnozzi got on, Dmitri Young came to the plate as a rookie and smashed a shot into centerfield. It got down, both runners scored, then big, 240+ pound DY hit second base full speed, put his head down and shot into third base with a triple. In all the games I’ve ever been to in St. Louis, I’ve still never heard Busch Stadium II or III louder than that moment.

3. Adam Wainwright hooks Carlos Beltran (2006): This moment was great for a lot of reasons…and by the end of all them I was standing on top of my truck with a 40 ounce of malt liquor going absolutely out of my head.

Wainwright punched gravity in the mouth with the last pitch of the NLCS in '06.

First of all, it was against Carlos Beltran, who was a terror when he has in Houston the year before and seemingly single-handedly homered the team out of the mix.

Second, it was 2006. The Cards had resurrected themselves from the dead and were on a warpath to the Series.

Third, it was in New York and it shut down one of the loudest, nastiest crowds you could imagine.

Fourth, it sent us back to the World Series after two straight years of gut wrenching losses either in it or on the verge of it.

Fifth, but not last: that hook that Wainwright let go, that froze Beltran & even broke his knees down a bit once it set in on him, may still be the nastiest pitch I’ve ever seen thrown in my life. At the absolute best time for it.

2. Cardinals win the Game 7 of the World Series (2011): It was a buzz worthy day everywhere in the city. However the build up to it all day was the coolest, pressure filled moment I’ve ever witnessed. One thing was for sure: the Cardinals were going to win that night. Chris Carpenter made his third start of the series, Allen Craig pulled out some more heroics and the Cardinals won their 11th World Title in an efficient and resounding manner.

Carp shut the door on a demoralized Rangers club in the last start of his bulldog '11 Playoff run.

It was so odd that it felt like it did, considering there’s never been a team that played more clutch games or had to fight for what they got in professional sports history more than that team did. But by the time that Game Seven came around, the nerves were gone. Not just on the field, but in the stands too. And has I stood outside Busch Stadium and the first World Series game I had ever been to in my life. I had nothing left, when it was over. But even in that moment, it still wasn’t what the night before had been.

1. Game Six (2011): What more can be said about this game than has been said and seen? Actually, we talked about this one before here, didn’t we? It was the greatest clutch performance in the game’s history, twice. The Cards were dead at least three times in the game. Down to the last out twice in three innings; the last strike even. David Freese’s last two at-bats of that evening, first with the triple to send it to extra innings, and then with the walk off homer to send the series to Game Seven… it was unbelievable. It was absolutely the most emotionally fulfilling and draining experience I’ve ever watched in my life.

I watched it at home and it was as up and down as an hour and a half can get. After the seventh inning, I made my peace with the season. In the eighth inning I got some hope. In the ninth inning, I jumped up and head butted my solid wood front door in pumped up excitement from what Freese pulled off and split my head wide open. In the 10th the wind was knocked out of me by Josh Hamilton, but given back but Lance Berkman spared me.

There's no caption to do this moment justice....and very few Advil's either.

Then David Freese did the unbelievable again, and all of sudden The Natural wasn’t such a hard to believe story after all. Because I’d seen it all take place, twice in a matter of a half hour.

Take that Roy Hobbs.

For more on my lifelong love affair with Cardinal baseball, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

So earlier I did my biggest misses of the year, and hey it happens. But all in all, it was a good year in CSP. I had fun writing it and I hope everybody that stopped thru had fun reading it. If anything, this year was a progression, the vision of what this site is head towards is getting clearer. And it helped that this was an amazing sports year several times over.

At any rate, the goal this year was to be more conversational and more in tune with what the point of this whole site started off as: to be the voice of an average sports fan looking at it from the outside….that has a bit of knowledge mixed in. I hit those points this year I feel, and all the contributors did as well. I hope it resonated the same way with everyone that took a moment or a day to stop by here too.

So here’s my best of the year to me. And if you see anything that’s missing that you dug, let me know. Here’s to 2011 birthing an even better 2012 here in the CHEAP SEATS. Hell, maybe I’ll even turn this into a bit more be able to get into the Mid Range-to-Kinda Pricey Seats by this time next year. Domain name stays the same though, because a) www.MidRangeToKindaPriceySeats.com sucks as site name, and b) I gotta stay true to what I really am: a regular dude typing my mind on this all. Enjoy.

 

10. Taking Em To School – The Story of Swish Dreams (April 6): My first shot at a community interest sports story went over well. This is the story of an inner city Chicago-youth basketball/counseling league and how it’s grown as institution…and truly turned hoop dreams into hoop (and life) realities. Came across this just visiting a friend and it was the first piece that kicked off the revamped CSP look this year.

9. Black Diamonds: The State of Blacks in Baseball 2011 (April 14):  My annual call to awareness of the state of blacks in Major League Baseball. This is by and far one of the most important pieces to me I write per year, and shows why while “we” aren’t checking for “us” enough in the game, but the culture is still represented big time. Yet, there is still a ways to go in reclaiming a throne atop the National Pastime we once owned.

Kemp's nearly historic season showcased just what's still great about the African-American influence on baseball.

8. The Decent To Madness Series (March/April): My first site hosted NCAA Bracket went over big. The spoils of victory were a bottle of Crown Royal Black (which needs to ship still….sorry Sledge, come holla at me while you’re in STL), so it brought out all my lush friends. But it also got a few ladies in the mix and a few folks that had never done it before. The daily updates of both games, the real time bracket struggles via Twitter and the element of the best playoffs in all of sports made this a big deal. 60 teams in the first year let’s double up in ’12.

7. You Gotta STFU….Outta The Blue “Fans” (October 28): My love letter to the casual sports fan that feels the need to speak to diehards like we are equals. Trust me, we are not. My apologies to the state of Texas for being caught in the crosshairs here, but some of your lessors brought this on you all.

6. Battle of the Sexes…or Sexist (May 26): The battle cry of many males against women watching sports (and what they watch it for) needed to be broke down. In this piece a real rabid sports fan calls out men who fashion themselves as sports gurus, but really know as much as ESPN tells them, against calling women out, who many times know more than they could. Jealousy is deciphered all sorts of ways here and humility is handed down.

5. Cream of the Crop, The NBA All-Time Top 60 (April/May): One of the most debated pieces in the two year history of the site; I took my shot at ranking the best to ever do it in NBA history in a six-part breakdown. And this one is still getting more and more heated by the year. Here is each section for review and it’s current to pre-playoffs of last season. Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six.

#1 wasn't too hard, but everything else is still a fight to sort out.

4. 10 Degrees of Sports Crazy (March 4): From the antics of Ryan Leaf & the manic majesty of Milton Bradley to the antics of the Ultimate Warrior and Mike Tyson’s greatest quotables, my look at the 10 craziest figures in sports history rounded the bases of best that sports insane asylum could bring out.

3. I Don’t Believe What I Just Saw (October 28): There are classic sports showdowns, then there’s Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. The last hour/three innings of that contest were among the most pressure filled, emotional roller coaster stretches of my life overall. The countdown to David Freese’s two classic moments, and my split my head open (literally) in excitement is worth the ride alone.

Freese's walkoff nearly had me not able to do the same.

2. And Then There Was Nothing… (December 8): My parting words for Albert Pujols and why the disappointment in his departure will stretch long beyond this year alone. St. Louis is in this one for the long haul, and it’s only just begun.

1. That’s A Winner: Me & MY World Series Win (November 1): There is NOTHING like your team winning it all. More than that, there is nothing that touches your hometown, 365 day focused, favorite sport club winning it all. On top of that, celebrating it at the scene of the victory with 80,000 of your new closest friends. The best of the year, and maybe the new standard bearer of any of my thoughts-to-post products, is everything that happens to the fan that has it all. The real essence of why there is nothing like sports.

 

There you have it, the best of 2011. Here’s to having #1 this time barely crack #10 next time around.

For more on this and whatever else “that” is at the moment, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.