Not long ago, Strauss tweeted this out [with Twitter jargon edited out]:
“The question about the Cards’ arbitration eligibles is not about 2013. That’s pro forma [a questionable use of Latin that in this case means 'taken for granted']. The issue is (un)willingness to tie up the closer [Jason Motte] and the starting third baseman [David Freese] beyond 2013.”
Motte I understand. Like almost all closers, he’s a ticking time bomb made all the riskier by his heavy reliance on his fastball. But Freese?
Keeping in mind that this information comes from the purveyor of fruitless offseason rumors, we can only take this information with a grain of salt, but I’ve been trying to rationalize this without some assumption of the worst. Here’s the best I can do.
Freese is 29 years old; right in the middle of the average player’s prime. To be hesitant to sign a guy on top of the hill to a multi-year contract is understandable, especially when the guy doesn’t leave team control until 2016 at age 32.
Plus, it’s not like there would be no decent replacement for Freese if he left. The organization is pimping Matt Carpenter out as a second baseman to get us all softened up to the idea ahead of time, but his true position is third base, and once Kolten Wong is ready for Major League action, Carpenter could theoretically start at third in lieu of Freese, who in this possible scenario would be gone the same year Wong arrived.
The injury history thing might also be a concern, though not so much with me. The major injuries of his career that robbed him of so much playing time were for the most part pretty fluky and thus unfair to attribute to injury proneness in my opinion. Though I won’t deny the possibility of lingering effects from those as well as the six day-to-day injuries he sustained in 2012, I do know that whatever’s happened to him, it’s never affected his hitting when he has played.
There are also Freese’s reoccurring off-the-field problems, which the team became aware of after EM‘s reporting them earlier this offseason. Though how much this would play into a contract decision is beyond my own speculation.
It feels weird to talk myself out of a multi-year deal with Freese and I still don’t think I did a very good job of it. I like the guy as does every Cardinals fan and would like to see him stick around for a few more years if at all possible. But I guess my point is that if Strauss really is right about the team’s apathy towards a multi-year deal with their titanic fan favorite (I think), I suppose it isn’t beyond comprehension as to why.