After a red-hot return from the disabled list, suddenly St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk’s name is on the lips of seemingly every baseball pundit.
The Redbirds should trade Grichuk, a powerful hitter with excellent speed, a strong arm and a nice glove, for every pitcher or first baseman who comes down the pike, they say.
He’s a hot commodity with a .302 batting average in May. As a starter this season, he’s batting .291 with 10 extra-base hits in 14 games.
Well, I stick to what I said when the Cardinals traded David Freese to get Peter Bourjos to be their starting centerfielder with Grichuk as a throw-in: Grichuk is the real star of that deal and he’s got much more of a future here than Bourjos.
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It was fashionable for the social media critics to rip Grichuk last season when he struggled in a sudden starting role thrust upon him when Oscar Taveras struggled. Nevermind the fact that the kid hadn’t put a half a season of experience under his belt at any level higher than Class AA ball by that time.
Sure, there was work to do. Grichuk struck out too much and was otherwise worked over by veteran pitchers.
But he’s got the things you can’t teach like a quick bat, home run stroke, instinct and, maybe most importantly, a willingness to learn.
Grichuk looked like a much more polished player this year in spring training. Even though the St. Louis outfield picture was crowded, manager Mike Matheny knew there was nothing more for the kid to learn in the minors and added him to the roster. He said he couldn’t imagine going north without the righty slugger.
The Cardinals have struggled to fill the hole left in centerfield with the departure of Jim Edmonds.
I think we were all a little bit spoiled to have a Gold Glover in the middle of the outfield with 30 home run potential in the middle of the batting order.
Jon Jay has been better than a .290 hitter since assuming the role after Colby Rasmus flamed out. But that’s not good enough for fans. In came Bourjos who can’t hit well enough to justify a starting job. He’s got a nice glove and great speed. But he’s not comparable to Edmonds at the dish.
Grichuk, if he continues on his current path, could be the Birds’ starting centerfielder for a decade. He’s a potential all-star who could pop 30 homers. Plus, since he’s young, he’s going to be cheap for years to come.
So, in short, Grichuk needs to be on the list of Cardinals players who are untouchable in trade along with Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Trevor Rosenthal.
He may be the team’s best trade chip at this point. But I’d rather seem the team keep Grichuk and look for free agent help than make a mega trade that will lessen then talent pool.