June 23, 2014

#Cardinals season not over with Garcia and Wacha injuries

The St. Louis Cardinals certainly don't like losing two of their starting pitchers, but it's not the end of the world. Jaime Garcia is not that unexpected, to be honest. And, he had only been with the team a minority of the season so far.

Michael Wacha is a bigger deal, especially when GM John Mozeliak says the team is in unexpected territory:
“It’s disappointing to learn of this,” Mozeliak said, “but he’s too young and valuable to take risks with. This is not a very common injury to pitchers and one that we don’t have a ton of experience on how to deal with it.”
Given how the team, from Mo on down, played coy with the status of Shelby Miller during last year's postseason (ultimately fooling nobody and wasting a roster spot in the process), who knows how to "translate" Mo-speak here?

A conservative but not horrific guesstimate is that Wacha stays on the shelf until the All-Star break as a precautionary move, and is held on a 90-pitch limit for at least his first three starts after coming back.

Carlos Martinez was already tentatively slated to give Wacha one turn out of the rotation. That said, who picks up Garcia?

Short term? Probably Nick Greenwood, called up recently to help "stretch out" Martinez' first couple of starts. And, to help stretch him out, Eric Fornatero was called up ... along with Pete Kozma for some weird reason, who was NOT called up along with Greenwood last week when Kolten Wong was put on the DL. Instead, Sugar Shane Robinson (why?) got that call-up.

Mozeliak is coming close to following Mike Matheny into Sub-Genius Skipper™ territory with head-scratchers like this.

OK, so who's the longer-term fill-in for Garcia?

Well, that was Joe Kelly's spot until he forgot he's a pitcher, not Billy Hamilton, and hurt his hammy, and then had 3 weeks of expected down time approach 2 months.  He's still not 100 percent ready, and in my guesstimate, may only have a 50-50 shot of being ready when what would have been Garcia's second turn comes up.  There is Tyler Lyons, and the less said about him, and the less seen of him in St. Louis, the better. I prefer giving Greenwood another shot, if Kelly's still not ready.

And, in a bit of a surprise, at least to me, the Cards have now called up AA lefty tout Marco Gonzales. I say this removes him from being part of Price trade talks. Others might say, "It's to showcase him." I disagree. Rather, if you're trusting a pitcher to accept a midseason jump from AA to the big show, you're thinking he's got a certain maturity level, and you don't like to trade that away. Matheny noted that, in comparing him to Wacha:
“His composure. His demeanor,” Matheny said. “There are a lot of things we saw in spring training. How he could command the plate but also the corners of the plate. There are some things that he was doing that first of all got our attention to where he would be a first-round pick and the same things we’ve seen as he progressed through the system. It all lines up well for him to come up here and help us do what we need to.”
And, you just don't readily trade that away.

This also somewhat scrambles the Cards' pursuit of David Price from the Rays, about which I recently blogged. Until the Cards have a firmer handle on Wacha's status, I don't see them trading for Price, especially if the Rays want two pitchers back in the mix, until they have more of a handle on Wacha's status.

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