Not that a savvy, top-tier organization like the St. Louis Cardinals would ever allow one play to change their long-term perspective of one of the top prospects, but as far as unforgivable mistakes on the biggest of stages go, you couldn’t do too much worse than the gaffe made by Kolten Wong in Game 4 of the 2013 World Series, yes?
In fact, you could reasonably argue that it might even affect his future with the team … at least in the short-term, anyway.
But was it really that bad? Well, yes — getting picked off as a pinch runner on first with two outs and the best hitter on the team at the plate representing the tying run is not something that should happen at this level, but put into perspective that this comes in front of a fervent home crowd in St. Louis in the ninth inning of a pivotal contest, and you get the idea.
The worst of it is that even though it’s the type of mistake that really ought not to happen to being with, it’s one of those things that might almost be expected of a rookie like Wong, who will have to carry it with him for quite some time.
A more forgiving manager will probably not hesitate to put the young second baseman in the game to run for the ailing legs of Allen Craig the next time an opportunity comes up, but given that the Cardinals are now locked into a best-of-three series with the Boston Red Sox with the momentum not exactly being on their side, it’s unlikely that the 23-year-old will make another appearance in the World Series, whether the redbirds come out on top or not.
That’s saying a lot for a team that has relied on youth to make an impact especially in the pitching department, and it’s something that could very well carry over to 2014.
No, they’re not going to look to trade their future at second base because of this (though it remains wholly possible for other reasons), but combined with the fact that he didn’t altogether impress over his 62 PA over 32 games (.153/.194/.169 triple-slash) other than show a dash or speed, the team could decide that instead of Wong having nothing left to prove in the minors (.835 OPS over 463 PA in triple-A), that he might not be quite ready for the big leagues.
Much of that will also depend on the continued struggles of former World Series hero David Freese, whose .499 OPS in the playoffs so far (1-for-12 in the World Series) isn’t serving as a vote of confidence to the Cardinals regarding his long-term future with the team as he heads into his second year of arbitration.
After all, it’s not like there’s really a full-time spot for Wong to play in right now anyway with Matt Carpenter having a lineup spot locked down; and at this rate, there’s really not a whole lot of good reasons for the Cardinals to make a significant change in that regard in the short term.
Though he might not have deserved a spot on the World Series roster, Wong had the chance to really grab the bulls by the horns and provide the impetus for St. Louis to put him in a full-time position sooner rather than later. After dealing the team a blow that neither the players nor the fan base are going to forget soon, I think you could say that ‘later’ is a more reasonable expectation at this point.