THE DAVID FREESE CONUNDRUM
David Freese‘s case is an interesting one.
When that ball in Game Six of the 2011 World Series landed beyond Busch Stadium’s center field wall, he went from being a solid yet relatively unknown third baseman to the center of the universe in St. Louis.
Since then his fanbase has boomed, from fans of his prowess and theatrics on the field to swooning admirers off of it. I imagine you can’t go anywhere in that city without seeing someone with FREESE 23 on their backs. And I too am a fan of his.
But David Freese has become disturbingly godlike in a city that takes its baseball more seriously than any other. When he settled with the Cardinals on a $3.15 million contract for 2013, Cardinal Nation, for the most part, rejoiced.
It was an unsettling thing to see, since the signing ensured that Freese would not get what he stated today as his wish to be a Cardinal for life.
When teams want to lock guys up beyond their team control years, they do not go year-to-year denying the player measly amounts like the $3.75 Freese requested. Freese knows this, and is extremely upset by it.
That’s at least partly understandable. If I were him, I wouldn’t want to leave St. Louis either. But when his teammate Albert Pujols was allowed to leave after that 2011 championship year, the message should’ve been clear: John Mozeliak is cold and calculating and will add and release players as necessary to make his team the best and most efficient as it can be for as long as it can be. There are no exceptions.
This is Baseball in the free agency era. There is little sentimental value anymore beyond the stands, where fans long to think there’s something more to player-team relationships than money; where what Freese did on October 27, 2011 means something. But the reality is that it’s a game of facts; and the facts are that players will dispel teams to get more cash and teams will dispel players to keep more cash.
The facts that pertain to Freese’s future with the Cardinals are that he will be over the hill at age 32 by the time team control runs out on him after the 2015 season, he is hurt often with knees that are worse off than we’re being told, the organization badly wants Matt Carpenter to play and has also taken some action to oversee David’s conduct after EM reported his presumed relapse in November. In short, he is not the god he’s being made out to be.
The end of David Freese the St. Louis Cardinal is nigh. What’s a shame is that, since he publicly stated he wants to be a Cardinal for life like Albert once did, he will be branded a traitor like Albert was once he is not handed a reasonable offer to come back.