Cardinals Make Major Statement with Roster Changes


Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals announced a series of roster moves late on Sunday night which included second baseman Kolten Wong and outfielder Shane Robinson being optioned to Triple-A while infielder Greg Garcia and outfielder Randal Grichuk were recalled. While these moves were not overly shocking considering how Wong and Robinson had performed offensively, it is still somewhat surprising that the Cardinals were ready to push the reset button on Wong’s season before the end of April. These moves show that despite their success at the plate in Sunday’s win, the Cardinals still are not content with their recent level of offense and are committed to making changes.

Grichuk will be making his big-league debut after playing just 21 games at the Triple-A level. He should be a definite upgrade over Robinson both offensively and defensively; the only question is whether he can adjust to playing in spot duty off the bench as well as Robinson has over the past several years. For the immediate future, Grichuk might steal some playing time from outfielders Allen Craig and Peter Bourjos, who are both struggling at the plate, but the Cardinals aren’t even going to consider replacing either of them outright unless they struggle terribly for months on end, which is a strong unlikelihood considering both of their previous track records.

Garcia, who will also be making his major-league debut, is probably going to serve exclusively as a lefthanded bat off the bench, with Mark Ellis getting nearly all the starts at second and Daniel Descalso serving as the primary backup. For what it’s worth, Garcia provides better defense at shortstop than Descalso and possibly even Pete Kozma, so if Jhonny Peralta continues to struggle in the field Garcia may be a valuable late-game defensive replacement.

Obviously, though, the player most heavily impacted by this move is Wong. The 23-year-old former first-rounder struggled enough that he lost the second base job to Ellis, and now with 130 big-league at-bats under his belt Wong is going to face an uphill battle to prove that he can be a reliable starting second baseman in the majors. Though he hit well in spring training, Wong really was not given a full vote of confidence this year, and that may have been something that affected him from a mental standpoint.

While things don’t look great for Wong right now, sometimes all it takes for a player to turn it around is 80 to 100 bats in the low-pressure environment of the minor leagues. It may take continued struggles from Ellis, but if Wong has success at Triple-A, don’t rule him out from re-emerging later in the season as the Cardinals’ starter at second.