GM John Mozeliak showed that he doesn’t let sentiment get in the way of business when he let Albert Pujols walk, so this trade is not a big surprise. There were hints that Freese was not in the long-term plans of the team when he received only a one-year contract in his first year of arbitration eligibility after the 2012 season. Freese had record-setting numbers in the 2011 postseason and a strong 2012, yet the Cardinals only offered him $2.4 million and eventually signed him for $3.15 million.
Freese did not have a good 2013 season. It started off badly when he fell into a camera well in Spring Training and injured his back. He never seemed to recover. His batting average for April was .163. He did have a 21-game hitting streak from mid-May to mid-June, but his numbers overall were disappointing and his postseason was awful. He looked exhausted, and part of that could be the weight he has carried ever since 2011 WS Game 6. It’s a beautiful thing to be the local hero who hits the walk-off home run, but it can be a heavy burden. Since that night two years ago, every time Freese came up to the plate at Busch Stadium with a chance to change the game, he must have felt the hopes and expectations of the fans bearing down on him.
Now he has the chance to start over with a new team in a different league. If he can get himself right physically, the change of scenery and atmosphere will probably do him a world of good. The slate is clean, and his stat line starts with all zeroes. A weight is lifted.
The Cardinals and their fans were fortunate to witness a magical moment in time when a homegrown talent took his hometown team to the highest height. They saw the best of Freese, yet many still hope there is an even better best in his future.
Sara Lefebvre is a St. Louis Cardinals writer for RantSports.com. Connect with her on Google.