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Balls & Strikes Mailbag: The 2012 surprise?Posted Thursday, March 1, 2012, at 9:19 AM
Q: With so much young talent in the system right now, who do you expect to be the big "surprise" this year?
A: In short, my answer is Tyler Greene. After a couple of lackluster stints in the majors, Greene has continued to go back down to the minors and show that he does have the potential. Whether stealing bases (19 for 21) or batting .323 (he hit .221 in St. Louis), something in the transition was giving him trouble. One hope is that the managerial might benefit a young player like Greene who could have been intimidated by Tony LaRussa. Regardless of the reason, the potential is there. Can he realize that potential at the major league level? That's the question that will likely be answered this year.
GM John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny have made it clear to Greene over the winter where they would like to see him and why. He has the potential to be a good hitter, base stealer and defensive second baseman and has been working hard toward that goal throughout the offseason. When I interviewed Greene in January at Cape Girardeau we discussed the transition and he was excited not only at the opportunity, but the fact that the management has that kind of faith in his ability.
Basically, the job is his to lose.
Q: How do you think David Freese's newfound celebrity status will affect him on the field?
Bell City, Mo.
A: Hopefully, not at all. There will be a lot of pressure on Freese this year for several reasons.
First, after what happened during the World Series fans will likely have unrealistic expectations for him during the 2012 season. He can't be expected to do what he did in October on a regular basis. He definitely has the ability to be solid, but expecting the miraculous every day will only lead to disappointment.
Second, he has to stay healthy. So far he is still yet to play 100 games in a regular season. With a surgically repaired ankle and other minor nagging issues, we have yet to see a healthy David Freese. It doesn't matter how great of a player you are, if you're not on the field you're not helping the team.
Third, as you mentioned, he has to stay grounded. He knows what the expectations of the club are. He also knows what the fans expect from him. If he can not let that get to him and just take the field and play hard like he is capable of, he should be fine.
What I'm saying is that, even if you take the fame out of the equation, there will be a lot riding on him this season. In my personal opinion, he seems to have a good head on his shoulders and has tried to take this all in stride. I think his team mates will keep him in check if there is an issue and he will be fine.
I know I have a bad record with these, but here's my prediction: 127 games played, .298 BA, 19 homeruns, 17 RBIs.
Q: What does it feel like to run as fast as you can and then hit a door frame with your head?
A: After a question like that, I would love to show you some time. Where would we all be without smart alec buddies? For those of you who don't know, Jody witnessed me getting my concussion about three weeks ago in exactly the way he described. Some things can never be lived down.
As always, thanks for reading - CN
To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org , call (573)624-4545 or fill out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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