Tag Archive | "Insurance Policy"

Rookie Kolten Wong Expected to Be St. Louis Cardinals’ Starting 2nd Baseman

Kolten Wong’s journey has traveled many directions in his short time establishing himself on the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster. He was the prospect who was poised to take the position over late last season. He became the heir apparent during the offseason. He struggled at the start of spring training.

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Now he appears to be the starting second baseman when the season begins.

As spring training winds down for the Cardinals, most of their roster decisions have been made. One of the key positions that seemed to demand attention was second base.

General manager John Mozeliak acquired an insurance policy for his young prospect when he signed Mark Ellis to a contract in December 2013. Ellis would challenge the young Wong to produce immediately if he wanted to hold on to his starting role.

Wong responded early in spring training by pushing himself too hard and found himself without a hit in his first 10 at-bats. Speculation was rampant that Wong simply was not ready. The young man was doing very little to change the minds of his critics.

Then something clicked in his progress—Wong relaxed and started showing signs of the talent so many had talked about prior to this season. He finds himself leading the Cardinals this spring with a .372 batting average. He has an impressive .674 slugging percentage and is leading the team in OPS with a 1.100 mark. The offensive production that some predicted seems to have arrived.

Meanwhile, his challenger struggled to take the field often enough to truly create the competition that management seemed to want. Ellis was slowed by a left knee ailment that caused him to miss seven consecutive games, and now finds himself preparing for Opening Day.

Ellis is expected to be ready for the season opener on March 31. When discussing the situation with Rick Hummel the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,Ellis expressed frustration with the injury more than with not being the starter:

I’m always disappointed when I can’t play…. I never want to be the guy in the training room. I want to be the guy who nobody has to worry about. They don’t have to worry about, ‘Hey, is this guy going to be able to play today or not?’ That’s what is disappointing.

Wong seems ready to begin his rookie season, and Ellis is ready to be the veteran backup.

The Cardinals are ready to win with both of them.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com.
Follow him on Twitter to discuss all things baseball throughout the season.

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Ronny Cedeno provides depth for St. Louis Cardinals, but little else

In an offseason of sparse, small moves, the St. Louis Cardinals made another signing Monday that will minimally impact their season, and hopefully it won’t be a factor at all.

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The Cardinals signed shortstop Ronny Cedeno to a one-year contract to be a back-up option in case starting shortstop Rafael Furcal’s right elbow has problems again in the upcoming season.

The 30-year-old Cedeno is an eight-year veteran with a career .247 batting average while playing for four different teams: the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets. At best, he’s been an inconsequential player on irrelevant teams.

The Cardinals aren’t an irrelevant team, and something will have to go terribly wrong if Cedeno sees much playing time. The team has Furcal penciled in to be the everyday shortstop, and  Pete Kozma would seem to be a fairly solid back-up option given his .333 batting average in 26 games at the end of last season.

In many ways, the Cardinals had no need for Cedeno unless they think Kozma can’t hit above .250 and play decent defense. Both Kozma and Cedeno are righthanded hitters without much power, so the Cardinals certainly didn’t improve the back-up shortstop situation by this move.

Maybe the Cardinals think Kozma needs to be pushed during spring training or during the season if he has to regularly play shortstop with Furcal out because of injury. But still, the team has Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter as other middle infielders who could supposedly move over to shortstop if Furcal gets hurt and Kozma plays terribly.

General manager John Mozeliak said the team needed “insurance” at the position. Well, as some television commercials suggest, this is a cut-rate insurance policy and not the Allstate value plan. Cedeno should have to play above his career average in spring training just to break camp with the club.

This move also adds fuel to the fire of people who are already frustrated the Cardinals haven’t improved enough during the offseason, while the Cincinnati Reds traded for Shin-Soo Choo, the Atlanta Braves added the Upton brothers and the Philadelphia Phillies added the steady and productive Michael Young, formerly of the Texas Rangers.

Many of the top teams in the National League made significant moves to improve during the offseason, and the Cardinals basically stood pat. OK, they signed bench players Ty Wigginton and Cedeno. Sorry, but those two won’t even make opponents’ scouting reports.

Overall, the Cardinals are going to need their core players to stay healthy and be consistently productive throughout the entire year because the rest of the league has improved. If the Cardinals fall behind six to 10 games in the division or wild-card race, the teams above them might be too good to allow for another miracle comeback.

Right now the Reds, Braves, Phillies, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are all built to be strong playoff contenders. Even with the expanded playoffs, only five National League teams will make the postseason, so a playoff berth is far from guaranteed for the Cardinals this season.

That competition should make for a fun season, so long as the Cardinals don’t have to file a claim on the Ronny Cedeno insurance policy.

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Escobar’s Forgotten Affair

The Royals faithful know of Alcides Escobar’s resurgence of late at the plate (.419 in his last dozen games). They know that he is one of the best shortstops in the Show; and adding a bat to that glove, his value to the Royals skyrockets. Ned Yost saw the potential all year and continued to let Escobar bat in the lineup every day. He refused to replace Escobar late in games with a better hitter so that he could get late-game hitting experience and stay in games longer. Royals fans know all of this.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

They don’t know about Alcides’ scandalous past.

In their defense, the story hasn’t been discussed in a couple of years and, at the time, was focused on a AA Brewers prospect. But now that he’s playing for their team, Royals fans should know who they’re rooting for.

In 2009, Escobar’s wife Leury came out with big allegations against her new husband. As a disclaimer, the following story is told only from her side of things. The only statements made from Alcides have come through his former Venezualan team’s PR man, whose only defense for him was that he pays child support and that his wife is covered under MLB’s insurance policy. No news has come out in years relating to this, so we can’t know if anything has changed.

Using several sources who publicized these events (many of them Leury’s personal accounts), this is a reconstruction of Alcides Escobar’s ugly relationship with his wife.

* * * * *

In 2008, current Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar was married to Leury Moreno, daughter of 1979 World Champion and 1985 Royal Omar Moreno. Soon after they were married, it was discovered that Leury was pregnant. The new couple was excited, buying new things for their baby as they prepared to be a family.

In October of 2008, Alcides left to play winter league ball with the Cardenales in Venezuela. Leury says this was the turning point in their relationship.

Being a US citizen, Leury couldn’t easily visit her husband in Venezuela. So one day, she called to check up on Alcides, who handed the phone to his mistress, who proceeded to badmouth her about her looks and how her relationship with Alcides was over. Leury continued to get calls and texts from her husband and his lover. Things got so bad that Alcides once told his wife that he had only married her for a green card. He wasn’t even in attendance when his daughter Gabriella was born prematurely. (Fortunately, she was born relatively healthy.)

Leury claims that Alcides was kicked off his Venezuelan team for bad conduct and that his family wants nothing to do with him.

At one point, Alcides apologized to Leury and said he still loved her and wanted her to visit him in Venezuela. But when she and her daughter arrived, they were met with divorce papers. Leury refused and went back home.

She is now a fashion designer in Florida. As far as anyone knows, he has only seen her and his kid once since he left them in 2008. He is now playing Major League ball in Kansas City for $428,000 this year.

* * * * *

Again, I don’t want to trash Alcides Escobar if he has made up for what he’s done. If he has, it wasn’t publicized. If not, Royals fans should at least have this story in the back of their heads when they hear about the guy.

Postscript: You can hit me up at my Cardinals site or Twitter.

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