A Suggestion - Craig Wilson

Wilson finished his first season as a full time player with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004, leading the team in home runs (29) and tied for the team lead in RBI with 82. A broken hand limited his playing time in 2005, but rumor has it he could be available and that could be good news.

It's been my opinion that Craig Wilson has been one of the most under-rated players in the National League for five seasons.

He isn't going to win any gold gloves, but the versatile Wilson can play the corner outfield positions, first base and even catch. In 2004, he played in 21 games behind the plate and he could provide some added insurance for the Cardinals, for that injury-prone position. Regardless of where he would play or what role, he would add some power to the St. Louis lineup.

The 29 year old, right-handed hitting 1B/OF has for the past three years, averaged appearing in 134 games, hitting .262 with 21 home runs and 62 RBI. Not bad numbers, considering he was out for about four months last season with a broken hand.

Recently Pittsburgh Pirates' GM David Littlefield said that Wilson doesn't have a starting job at any position with the Pirates right now.

It remains to be seen how Wilson, who can play both the outfield and first base, figures into Pittsburgh's plans for the upcoming season. "He's a nice alternative," Littlefield said. "He's somewhere in the mix of right field and first base." Sean Casey is slated to play first base on an every day basis, leaving Wilson to fight over playing time in the outfield. He'll likely form a righty/lefty platoon with Jody Gerut in right field. A trade of Wilson seems to be a real possibility, although Littlefield said his current value is low. "His hand injury does hurt his trade value," the Pirates GM noted. Wilson missed nearly four months of the 2005 season with two separate finger injuries.

Wilson missed much of the 2005 season, getting only 197 at-bats and hitting just five home runs. But it should be noted that three of those home runs came in his last seven games. That tells me he was apparently close to being healthy in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Wilson had lost much of his upper body strength last season due to breaking his hand (twice), but he is expected to be at full strength by spring training and that could be good news for the Cardinals, who are looking to find someone they can afford to play in right field for the retiring Larry Walker.

The scouting report from STATS indicates; Wilson has major power and can hit the ball out to all fields, though the majority of his home runs go to left. His swing tends to get long, causing him to strike out frequently. Though Wilson had more consistent at-bats with regular plate appearances, he can still be made to chase pitches, particularly breaking balls down and away. He will crush fastballs left over the plate and also has learned to stay back on changeups and hit them hard. Wilson crowds the plate and isn't scared to get hit by a pitch. He led the major leagues in that category in 2004 with 30 last year.

Wilson is one of those tough, gritty, blue collar, types of players that fans in St. Louis tend to appreciate. He's aggressive and he's hungry for an opportunity to continue to play full time next season and to me that makes him an attractive potential trade option.

If Wilson has a significant weakness it may be that he doesn't have a strong enough arm to be an everyday right fielder, which could limit the interest in him. In addition, he strikes out too much, but in limited playing time last season, due to injury, he showed some signs of improving in cutting down on his strike outs.

My take is, Wilson's trade value may be at an all time low, and he could potentially start in right, play in left and back up at first base and he adds a little pop to the lineup, when he is in it. In an emergency, he does have enough experience to be the Cardinals third catcher on the depth chart.

If you take a look at Wilson's seasonal averages (per 162 games played), he's hit for an average of .262 (126 hits in 470 at bats) with 24 home runs and 71 RBI.

That's not bad.

If I was the Cardinals General Manager, I think I'd make a call to Pittsburgh and talk with Pirates GM David Littlefield and at least explore the possibility of making a deal for Wilson.

Just a thought, just a suggestion.

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