Over one month into the 2014 MLB season, one thing is painfully clear.
It’s time to pull the plug on the Peter Bourjos experiment.
This isn’t said on behalf of St. Louis Cardinals fans wistful for the return of David Freese, but you can’t blame Cardinals fans for having a soft spot in their hearts. After all, Freese was the hero of the 2011 World Series. He was the player whose dramatic home run forced a seventh game just when it looked like the Cardinals were out of luck.
Let’s be realistic. Freese’s production had tailed off, and the Cardinals were trying to upgrade on defense while hopefully keeping the same hitting displayed by Freese in the lineup. It has not worked.
The outfielder is batting .157 and has all but lost any playing time he had to Jon Jay, who has a batting average over .250 and more favorable stats.
Fans could argue that Freese’s production has tailed off after his trade to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Unlike Bourjos, however, Freese was headed in the right direction before an ill-timed finger fracture put him on the 15-day disabled list. Freese was about ready to go over .200 as he adjusted to American League pitching, so this injury does hurt.
What hurts Cardinal fans is watching Bourjos struggle in St. Louis while a rich stable of outfielders awaits promotion from Triple-A Memphis. Stephen Piscotty, the Cardinals’ first-round pick in 2012, is near .300 in Memphis and showing signs of life with his bat that could sorely be used a few hundred miles to the north.
Randal Grichuk, obtained in the trade for Freese from Los Angeles, is currently struggling in his first cup of coffee with the Cardinals, but he could be a solid outfielder for years to come. Then there is Oscar Taveras, the player many fans believe could be the answer to everyone’s prayers if Taveras can shake off injuries and ineffectiveness.
Let’s be fair. The Cardinals are not hitting well as a team right now. The three Matts, as in Matt Adams, Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter, are doing well. Jhonny Peralta, signed to a four-year contract in the offseason, is having trouble adjusting. So is Allen Craig. Kolten Wong, regarded as the second baseman of the future in St. Louis, struggled so hard the Cardinals sent him to Memphis to work out some kinks in his offense.
Is it time to send Bourjos down? Manager Mike Matheny was terse with the media when the question was asked. Matheny defended Bourjos, but in a way playing Jay over Bourjos answers the question.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has done well in his years succeeding Walt Jocketty in the GM chair. Those were very big shoes to fill. Mozeliak’s moves helped the Cardinals to another world title five years after the 2006 championship.
Every GM makes a mistake. It’s time to admit this was one of them.
The Bourjos experiment must end.