With less than a month of the baseball season already in the books, the struggling St. Louis Cardinals are attempting to shake up their lineup by demoting second baseman Kolten Wong to Triple-A Memphis.
The move comes with the Cardinals currently sitting second in the National League Central at 14-12 and four and a half games behind the surging Brewers. Wong, 23, is batting .225 this season with 16 hits and five RBI in 71 at-bats. The Cardinals are looking to wake up their offense since they are managing only 3.28 runs per game, the second lowest rate in the National League.
The offensive slump should not all fall upon the young second baseman. Allen Craig and Jhonny Peralta, who on paper would appear to be more central to the team’s offense, are hitting just .174 and .175 and both players have a worse on-base percentage than Wong. Additionally, Peralta and catcher Yadier Molina are the only hitters on the roster with one than one home run this season. But manager Mike Matheny believes the move will help Wong become more comfortable at the plate, which will help the team when it really counts.
“He’s been so much on the fast track, realizing that he could either try and figure it out here getting limited playing time or get back to Memphis and jump in every day and get it figured out,” Matheny said. “We believe he’s going to have a long career. It definitely will speed the process up for him where he is feeling better at the plate.”
Wong had been losing playtime to Mark Ellis recently and since the Cardinals last homestead, the young infielder had just four hits in 28 at-bats. Outfielder Shane Robinson will also be sent back down to the minors and the team will bring up outfielder Randal Grichuk and infielder Greg Garcia to round out the roster.
I had predicted Wong to be one of the top young talents to contribute to their team in 2014, and I still think he will have a good season this year in the majors. I agree with Matheny in thinking Wong just needs some solid plate appearances in Triple-A to boost his confidence at the plate. We have already seen how he can contribute in the field, now he needs to get back to a consistent form at the plate. Wong’s time in the minors should not be an extended stay and I would think Cardinal fans should expect him back up sometime towards the middle to end of May.