Brett Wallace: Why Wait?

Joel KochSenior Analyst IMay 25, 2009

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Brett Wallace #84 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 20, 2009 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Brett Wallace, the 13th overall pick in the 2008 First Year Player Draft, is already at Triple-A Memphis. For being a 2008 draft pick, being at Triple-A (or even Double-A for that matter) is unbelievable. Off the top of my head, I can think of only Andrew Miller and Ryan Zimmerman that made it that far in a shorter amount of time.

Troy Glaus is out with a shoulder issue and his return date is up in the air. He has an appointment in the first week of June to see if he can start baseball related activities, which would determine his return date. Even if it is good news, Glaus is out until August. He will have to go on a rehabilitation assignment and spend the entire 30 days on assignment.

Brian Barden and Joe Thurston got off to hot starts in April, showing that the St. Louis Cardinals could cope without Glaus for sometime. Barden was named the Rookie of the Month for April, but both have come crashing back down to earth in May.

It is time for a change.

Since June is right around the corner, any player brought up from the Minor Leagues, and stays up for the remainder of his career, will have one extra year of arbitration eligibility. They also cannot become a Super-Two (which is when they are eligible for arbitration four times instead of normal three) player.

This is great news for the suddenly cost-conscious Cardinals. If Wallace would make his Major League debut after June 5, he cannot become a Super-Two player, so he won't be arbitration eligible until the end of 2012, and he will not be Free Agent eligible until the end of 2015.

Knowing this, you have to wonder why Wallace is not being considered for a promotion. He has torn up Pacific Coast League pitching with a batting line of .353/.378/.471 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and has a home run in his first eight games. Let us not forget that the "guy who doesn't play third base well" has only three errors in 40 games.

So why are the Cardinals waiting? The tandem of Barden and Thurston will not produce at their April rate, and this team needs a huge shot in the arm. The best way to fix the third base production and to give the team a big lift is to call-up your second top prospect.

That isn't the only move, however. You have to lift your team in more ways than that, and here is what the Cardinals need to do when June rolls around:

First and foremost, call-up Wallace from Memphis to be the everyday starter at third base. This forces Barden and Thurston into utility roles, which is where they would be best served.

Chris Duncan, Khalil Greene, Blaine Boyer, and Brad Thompson have to go. When Ryan Ludwick is activated off of the disabled list on Friday, Thompson needs to be sent out to Memphis.

When Wallace is recalled, Thompson and Boyer have to be dealt off to the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are in need of bullpen pitchers. Thompson and Boyer could see more pitching time for the Nationals. In return, the Cardinals need to take a mid to low level prospect. In this case, the returning player is Tom Milone. This will also lead to a call-up of Jess Todd, or a recall of Josh Kinney.

The next deal is sending Duncan and Greene (while picking up 80 percent of the total amount owed to both for 2009) to the Boston Red Sox for Jason Rice. The Red Sox have been linked to Greene over the past week to take up their shortstop post. He is a strong defensive shortstop and he would be their best bet to stay healthy and keep the post. He is also athletic enough that he could play third and second when needed.

With David Ortiz struggling, Duncan would be a good fit. He wouldn't be Ortiz, but his power potential would probably be a welcome addition. He could also serve as a backup when Ortiz starts at the designated hitter position, since Duncan can play left, right, and first, though not well.

The Greene experiment is over. Many were skeptical of the deal when it was made in December, but he is now officially a bust. He would be better served in Boston as a starter at shortstop until Lowrie returns, then become a backup on the infield.

In St. Louis, the Cardinals need to move on and admit that the shortstop position will put out low offensive numbers for the rest of the year. Why? Because with Greene gone, it will become a three-way battle for playing time between Barden, Thurston, and Brendan Ryan, with most of the playing time going to Ryan.

With these two trades and two call-ups, the Cardinals can say that they have a firm grasp on their season, and that they are not afraid to say they made a mistake with Greene. If they want to right the offensive ship and rejuvenate this team, this is what has to be done.

The roster would look like this:

2B - Skip Schumaker
LF - Colby Rasmus
1B - Albert Pujols
CF/RF - Rick Ankiel/Ludwick*
RF/CF - Ludwick/Ankiel
3B - Wallace
C - Yadier Molina
SS - Ryan/Barden/Thurston
Pitcher spot

* = Ankiel when a right-handed pitcher starts and Ludwick when a left-handed pitcher starts

RHPs: Kinney/Todd, Jason Motte, Chris Perez, Kyle McClellan
LHPs: Trevor Miller, Dennys Reyes
CL: Ryan Franklin

To me, that is a much more offensive lineup and a stronger bullpen. Plus, with Wallace in the lineup, it adds a third on-base force to the lineup (Pujols and Molina are the other two).

So why do I think the Cardinals should make all of these moves? I have already stated several reasons, but my main reason is that Wallace needs to be up. He has hit at every level, and even if he puts up just a good line at the Majors this season, it would be very beneficial to him next season.

I don't like Duncan and I never have. I have felt that all he is is an inconsistent power hitter that is horrible in the clutch, a butcher on defense, and too strikeout prone. If he is dealt off, it will show that the front office is dedicated to winning and not pleasing the coaching staff by keeping the pitching coach's son on the team. And yes, Duncan should have been traded after 2006 with Anthony Reyes. The value of each player was high and could have resulted in good players coming the Cardinals way.

Boyer, Thompson, and Greene have never been on my good side and all three are showing why this year. They are average players that are veterans, and the reason why they still plays is because of that. They are clogging spots for good players with more talent and need to go. They are looked to be big pieces here when they are role players elsewhere. Going to Nationals and Red Sox will make them role players, and both teams will better with them (yes, even the Nationals).

The Cardinals need Brett Wallace because there is no better alternative on the current roster or on the trade market. The only player that could be a better alternative is the man Wallace would be replacing (Glaus) and he is out until August. Of course, that is assuming Glaus' doctor appointment goes well.

Brett Wallace needs to be up in early June. No questions asked. Wallace will make this team a winner.


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