The St. Louis Cardinals have chosen David Freese as their starting 2010 third baseman. Freese won out against free agents Miguel Tejada and Felipe Lopez.
In an interview with St. Louis' KSLG 1380 radio, Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak said the plan right now is to go with Freese at third base in 2010.
These are the options you have when you have almost half your payroll tied up into three players: Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, and Chris Carpenter.
Let's take a look at just who Freese is.
A 2006 ninth round pick by the San Diego Padres, Freese was traded to the Cardinals for Jim Edmonds (I’ll check that one off as a win for the Cardinals). Edmonds was useless in San Diego and was subsequently released by them in May after only hitting .178 in 26 games.
Freese, on the other hand, has impressed at every stop in the minor leagues.
In four minor league seasons, Freese has a career .308 average and a .384 OBP. In 2008 for Triple-A Memphis, Freese hit .306 with 26 home runs and a .910 OPS in 131 games.
That is pretty impressive.
Freese’s 2008 season in Triple-A was so impressive that he earned a spot on the Cardinals’ opening day roster in 2009. However, he struggled at the major league level in April hitting only .158 in 22 AB’s.
Freese was sent down to the minors and once again tormented Triple-A pitching. In 56 games, Freese hit .300 with 10 home runs. He was called back up in September and hit .583 with a home run in 12 AB’s.
Defensively, based on his minor league stats, Freese should be an above average defensive third baseman in 2010. He also has some experience playing first base if the Cardinals should ever decide to give Pujols a day off.
Going into 2010, Freese ranks fifth amongst the Cardinals’ top-10 prospects according to Baseball America .
In order for the Cardinals to compete at a championship level now and in the future, they need low-cost prospects like Freese, Daryl Jones, and Colby Rasmus to step up and make solid contributions.
Rasmus made a solid contribution to the Cardinals in 2009 by hitting 16 home runs and playing a very solid center field. There is no reason to doubt Freese can’t follow in Rasmus’ footsteps and make a solid contribution for the Cardinals in 2010.
Freese will go into 2010 as an early National League Rookie of the Year candidate.
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