Glaus Injury Freese Up Opportunity for Prospects

The general pool of power at third base took a hit recently for Fantasy Leagues when it was announced St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Troy Glaus could miss the first couple of months of the 2009 season due to shoulder surgery. The Cardinals’ options to replace Glaus for the first few months of the season include prospects David Freese and Brian Barden.

Freese was originally obtained by the Cardinals from the Padres in December 2007 for Jim Edmonds. At the time, Freese had just finished up a full season in High-A ball at the age of 24. He hit .302/.400/.489 with an ISO of .187. The third baseman was old for the league and was playing in a very good hitter’s park.

Once in the Cardinals organization, Freese skipped Double-A and began the year in Triple-A, which was certainly a large jump. The 25-year-old had a modest first three months in the league and held his own. The final two months tell the story, though. Freese hit .378/.419/.694 in July and .337/.389/.596 in August. His final line of the season was .306/.361/.550 with an ISO of .244 in 464 at-bats. On the downside, Freese’s rates regressed – but not too badly. His walk rate dropped from 12.2 BB% to 7.8 BB% and his strikeout rate went from 19.7 K% to 23.9 K%.

Barden would seemingly have a better shot at securing the temporary third-base gig because he actually has some big league experience. However, he has a lower ceiling overall and simply has not preformed well in limited MLB experience, with a line of .182/. 217/.205 in 44 at-bats. He does, though, have a career minor league line of .294/.351/.445 in seven seasons. The 27-year-old is better suited to a utility role and emergency call-up for short periods.

Whomever replaces Glaus for April and possibly May, will have smaller than expected shoes to fill – when looking at the incumbent’s output from last season. Glaus hit just three home runs in the first two months with 18 runs scored, 33 RBI and a batting average around .260.

Barden is certainly not a Fantasy option, and Freese probably is not either unless you’re playing in a deep singles league and he is guaranteed the starting role (which he’s not at this point). Glaus is a player you’ll want to monitor and grab once he’s healthy – unless you already have a better option at third.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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The temporary job is Freese’s to lose, but the Walrus at least deserves mention. If he wins the job this spring, which I will admit is unlikely, Glaus may be out of a job. I’m taking a late-round flier on him. He has a major league ready bat, and a pre-July struggle by the Cardinals could put Glaus and his expiring contract on the block.