Cardinals Tyler Greene Trade Could Send Kolten Wong to St. Louis Soon

Corey NolesCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 08:  Kolten Wong of Team USA bats during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game against the World Team at Kauffman Stadium on July 8, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals effectively put an end to the Tyler Greene experiment Thursday morning when he was traded to the Houston Astros for a PTBNL or cash considerations.

Greene, once the embodiment for potential, has graduated into the poster boy for frustration during his first full season in St. Louis.

That all came to a rather overdue head on Wednesday night when an error by Greene blew a double play and gave the Giants the opportunity to run away with what became a 15-0 loss.

As if that wasn't bad enough, after being booed by fans, Greene suggested in a post-game interview that if they can't cheer, they should simply not come to the game.

Greene's absence will likely be the best scenario for both he and the Cardinals. He doesn't have the potential he once did, but he could still turn into a solid player in the right situation. It's been clear for some time that this place would not be St. Louis.

His absence, on the other hand, leaves the team in an interesting situation.

The Cardinals said Thursday a middle infielder would be promoted to fill the vacancy. Tthe question is, who?

The most likely choices aren't necessarily the best choices, at least when a team is six games behind the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds.

The two likely candidates, Ryan Jackson and Pete Kozma, leave quite a bit to be desired in the offensive department.

Jackson is a top-notch shortstop prospect, but he has never developed into a major league hitter. Until now, he has made due with his glove, but coming to St. Louis means he will need to have both.

He's made great strides in 2012, though, likely enough to earn him the trip up I-55.

So far in 2012, he's batting .269. That alone isn't much, but he's managed to pile up 10 home runs and 23 doubles to date. While those numbers aren't amazing, when you compare them to Greene with a .218 average, nine doubles and four home runs, they look a lot better.

Jackson played quite well early in the season, but only batted .219 in July and .207 so far in August. There's no reason to think that will improve with a promotion.

Make the comparison with caution, however, because Greene's Triple-A stats were actually quite a bit higher than Jackson. There is a big difference in Triple-A and MLB.

With that said, Jackson is the most likely candidate.

Pete Kozma, another possibility, may have an edge because second base is his native position, but his Memphis batting numbers don't indicate that he would be an offensive upgrade over Greene.

In 2012, Kozma is hitting only .233 with a .298 OBP. He's managed to put together nine home runs and 15 doubles, but the same as with Jackson, Memphis is a lot different than St. Louis.

Kozma's biggest asset in the decision-making process is that he is already on the 40-man roster and would not require an additional move.

Defensively, either is an upgrade at this point. What would it mean offensively is the real question.

There is an X-factor in this equation: Kolten Wong.

While the team is traditionally reluctant to over-expedite the development of a young player (Wong is 21), the team is in a situation where it might be the most sensible move.

The Cardinals aren't ready to concede the season at this point, and a Wong promotion could potentially be just the upgrade the Cardinals need if he is ready.

Wong, who is currently playing at Double-A Springfield, is hitting .284 with 17 doubles, four triples and eight home runs. He's shown decent patience at the plate, drawing 40 walks this season and has 43 RBI.

Wong is hitting .273 against left-handed pitching this year, a place where the Cardinals really need to improve. He's also hitting .287 with runners on base.

While the chances of Wong making the move are slim, in some ways, it does seem like the logical choice. Of the three, he has the best potential to make an impact that could keep the Cardinals competitive throughout 2012.

The question remains: Is he ready to make the jump? To pose a more interesting question, is he less ready than Jackson or Kozma?

Kozma and Jackson may be more mature and experienced, but Wong has more talent, plain and simple.

How the Cardinals feel about this remains to be seen. Matt Adams coming up was a surprise, so don't rule anything out yet.