Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said yesterday that David Freese will have a legitimate opportunity to become the team’s starting third baseman next season:
We have to look at the make-up of our club and how everything comes together between now and next spring. But given the second half that he had in Triple-A and how he played up here, it’s my preference to give David a chance to win the job.
I think we would like to give him a shot to play every day. If we need to ramp up the offense in another way, we have plenty of time. But given what he accomplished this year, I definitely think he deserves that chance.
Mozeliak’s comments are interesting not only because of what they mean for Freese but because of what they may mean for impending free agent Mark DeRosa, who started 58 games at third base after coming over in a midseason trade with the Indians. Mozeliak made it clear that the Cardinals “still have interest” in re-signing DeRosa, but added that it “depends on what other pieces fall into place for us.”
DeRosa struggled in St. Louis, hitting just .228/.291/.405 in 262 plate appearances while spending time on the disabled list with a wrist injury that may require offseason surgery, and handing out a multi-year contract to a 35-year-old career .275/.343/.424 hitter rarely makes sense if there’s a younger, cheaper player ready to take over the position. Freese fits that description.
Acquired from the Padres in the 2007 trade for Jim Edmonds, Freese hit .304/.363/.542 in 187 games at Triple-A over the past two seasons, showing good power with 36 homers and 44 doubles. However, he’ll be 27 years old next season, has mediocre plate discipline and a relatively high strikeout rate, and isn’t considered a great defender at third base, although Mozeliak describes him as “no worse than average” with the glove.
I’m generally in favor of giving a chance to non-elite prospects who’ve consistently produced in the minors, because far too often risk-averse teams simply fall back on overpriced veteran mediocrity rather than taking a risk with a relative unknown. Freese is a perfect example and would likely be 90 percent as good as DeRosa at 10 percent the cost, with a chance of being significantly better than the veteran.
White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from Saturday night’s start against the Tigers due to a confrontation he had with White Sox coaches and front office staff over the 1976 retro uniforms the club was to wear. Sale used a knife to cut up his uniform as well as the uniforms of some other players, protesting the club’s decision to wear them. The White Sox suspended Sale five games “for violating team rules, for insubordination, and for destroying team equipment.”
Sale spoke about the incident for the first time, as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports. The lefty apologized to fans who came to see him pitch and said he regrets “not being there for my guys,” referring to the bullpen, which had to cover for Sale on Saturday. Matt Albers got the spot start and went two innings.
Sale felt the uniform would have impacted his performance, saying, “[The ’76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn’t want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn’t want anything to alter my mechanics. … There’s a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing.”
Sale was firm that he doesn’t regret standing up for he believes in. “Absolutely not,” he said. He continued, “Do I regret saying business should not be first before winning? Absolutely not.”
With his five-game suspension to end after Wednesday’s game, Sale is on track to start Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
At the end of April, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon was handed an 80-game suspension by Major League Baseball after testing positive for exogenous testosterone and Clostebol, performance-enhancing drugs. Gordon says he took those substances unknowingly.
Gordon will return to the Marlins on Thursday, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. The club was 10-11 prior to Gordon’s suspension. Since then, the club has gone 43-35 and is now tied with the Mets for second place in the NL East, five games behind the Nationals. Impressively, the Marlins have collectively hit .272/.330/.408 in Gordon’s absence, which compares favorably to the league average .252/.320/.410 triple-slash line.
Gordon, who made the NL All-Star team in 2014 and ’15, was hitting .266/.289/.340 with three doubles, two triples, five RBI, 13 runs scored, and six stolen bases in 97 plate appearances. Derek Dietrich has handled second base in the meantime and has done an admirable job, batting .275/.366/.398 with 22 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 314 PA. Nevertheless, Gordon is likely to return to full-time duty at second base.