After a Cardinals off day on Monday, Jhonny Peralta was activated to the MLB roster as Kolton Wong was sent down to AAA. Peralta will be in tonight's starting lineup playing third base and hitting fifth. There was many questions asked early on in the season about what would happen when Peralta would return healthy. Would they really send down a top rookie-of-the-year candidate Aledmys Diaz? Would they get lucky and just replace another injured star? Would the Cardinals make a trade? The answer came Monday when Kolton Wong was sent down. Wong received a contraction extension earlier in the year. So far that contract is looking like one the team would like to get back.
Matt Carpenter was an all-star while playing second base. He has now returned to the position. He won't make the spectacular plays but he will make all the routine plays. The opposite could be said about Kolton Wong. The only bright side is that now Wong will get to play every day down in AAA and hope to fix his approach at the plate that has led him to low on-base percentages (career .303) in his MLB career. Maybe the thought of a position change can be flirted with now.
Peralta has never been a quick defensive shortstop. He has always been sure handed and relied on scouting and proper placement. He has succeeded for years doing this. He will be fine over at third base. Diaz has struggled with his defense this season but has improved a lot the more recently. I believe he is finally getting comfortable there. Being surrounded between Peralta and Carpenter on the diamond will truly benefit him at the position. Now comes the most intriguing questions. How does Wong make it back to the major this season? Did the Cardinals just improve their offenses biggest weakness?
The Cardinals are currently second in the league in runs (307) behind the Boston Red Sox (336). The Cardinals are also 4th in on-base percentage (.337) and third in slugging percentage (.456). All of that was before they just added an all-star caliber hitter in Peralta. A player who carried the offense at times last season when the offense was struggling. They had to rely on him so much he wore down by the end of the year. This injury has been a blessing in disguise the whole time. I said it early on. It forced the other guys to step up and it also allowed the team a good hard look at Diaz. It turns out Diaz might be the guy to deserve a contract extension instead of Wong. Then again it's still early. Wong is only turning 26 this year. He was just rushed to the majors very quickly.
If the Cardinals are going to get in the playoffs this season how will it be possible for Kolton Wong to return for the playoff push? The two easiest solutions are a trade or an injury. Both are likely as the Cardinals bench seems to have a lot of depth and talent. Injuries are always likely when you play so many games. The Cardinals could also use this depth to perhaps go out and get a front end of the rotation starter. It appears Adam Wainwright might not be able to hold that thrown anymore and Carlos Martinez has been inconsistent. I'm just not sure what type of pitcher could be available this season. James Shields was already traded to the White Sox.
The only position in the starting lineup that seems up for grabs right now would be centerfield (CF). Grichuk is looked upon to be the future at CF. He is very streaky at the plate. He has amazing power but has been prone to large strikeout totals and even injury concerns. Kolton Wong does possess great speed and instincts. A position change from 2B to CF is not unheard of. It might be a lot to ask for a player to switch positions in a season, and then be relied upon in the playoffs, but we are talking about professional ball players. If Grichuk continues to struggle this might be the only avenue for Kolton Wong to regain his playing time in the majors.
There is an outside chance that the Cardinals pursue a trade. Carlos Gonzalez has been rumored to be out there on the market. Trading Wong at this point wouldn't hold much value. Grichuk in Coors Field would hold a lot of interest. It would be a scary lineup with the addition of Carlos Gonzalez to split up the righties in the middle of the lineup. As the draft approaches in a few days and next month we face the trade deadline, it's going to truly be a hot few months of summer for the Cardinals.
Published by Brian Argetsinger