Jedd! The St. Louis Cardinals’ New Secret Weapon


The St. Louis Cardinals’ quietest move of the offseason may be their most important.

Do you remember December 8th, 2015? For most of us, it was probably just a random Tuesday. The sports scene in St. Louis was dominated with NFL relocation speculation, while the Blues were entering the middle portion of their schedule, and the Cardinals made a trade so important that almost no one has made a fuss about it since the day it happened.

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Jon Jay, a Mike Matheny favorite, was shipped to San Diego for infielder Jedd Gyorko and a bag of cash. On the surface, this would appear to be a minor trade. Neither of them are superstars, although there was more outcry about Jay’s jettison than I expected. Leading up to the 2015 Winter Meetings, the MLB pundits didn’t speculate about this trade, and as a result it looked like nothing more than MLB transaction page filler. I’ll admit: I am guilty of overlooking this trade as much as anyone else. In fact, I was more excited about Jay being traded than anything the Cardinals were getting back in return.

We can all agree that the Cardinals’ offseason ended up quieter than we hoped, but it’s time to realize just how much of an impact this trade will make.

Gyorko is a super-sub. Capable of playing second base, shortstop and third base, Gyorko fills a role sorely missed by the Cardinals in 2015: a player to take some of the insane workload handled by the Cardinals’ middle infielders.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Jhonny Peralta

During his two seasons with the Cardinals, Peralta has started in 301 of a possible 324 regular season games. That is a pretty large amount for a shortstop who turns 34 this May. The Cardinals slogged their way across the finish line in 2015, and fatigue seemed to be an undeniable factor in their early playoff exit. Peralta’s numbers at the plate dropped dramatically as the season progressed, putting up monthly batting averages of .316, .306, .274, .262, .242 and .253. Peralta has never been a guy to wow people with his batting average, but that monthly decline is telling. Peralta’s power numbers declined as well; his slugging percentage dropped off a cliff from a season high .556 in May to a ridiculously low .308 in September.  Any additional days off, provided by Gyroko’s presence, should aid Peralta in putting up more consistent numbers through September and hopefully late into October.

Kolten Wong

There was a lot of excitement heading into last season about the potential of Kolten Wong. Early results were good.

Sep 26, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (16) hits for a two run single during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (16) hits for a two run single during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports /

In the first two months of the season, Wong batted .309 with 6 HRs and 23 RBIs. Then everything went wrong. Through the rest of the season–June to September–Wong hit only 5 HRs, and he drove in only 38 RBIs to go along with a .238 batting average. Wong is young, so his total of 150 games played in 2015 isn’t as much of an issue as it is with Peralta. The issue lies in the fact that during his June to September slide, Wong had 410 plate appearances. Amidst his struggles, Wong was basically left hanging out to dry. He has showed signs of letting mistakes get to him, and it’s not crazy to wonder if a couple of days off would’ve helped him clear his head.

Gyroko is exactly the piece the Cardinals needed to add.

Just like last year, folks are anticipating a breakout season for Wong. While he must let mistakes go and move on, some added days off might give him the mental space he needs, and now no one can doubt the importance of Peralta to his team. His defense and bat will be needed for any pennant chase in September. The Cardinals went into the 2015 postseason battered, bruised and physically and mentally exhausted. With Peralta’s age and Wong’s mental make-up, Gyorko fills a huge void. He brings some much needed pop to the bench. Gyorko hit 16 HRs in 2015 while starting only 105 games.  He is a solid fielder, committing only three errors in 933 innings of work last season.

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Maybe the disappointment of losing out on David Price combined with losing Jason Heyward to the Cubs has caused folks to look past this trade, but in an offseason where seemingly everything went wrong for the Cardinals, they got this one right. Say what you want about Skip Schumacker, Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma, but Gyorko is a guy the Cardinals haven’t had in a long time. Sometimes the smallest moves, make the biggest difference. Let’s hope that’s the case for the 2016 Cardinals.