Cheap Seats

What's with all the Jaime Garcia hate?

I totally don't get all the Jaime Garcia venom in St. Louis these days.

Yeah, Garcia didn't pitch great Monday. Yeah, Garcia had an off year. But have any of the people so skilled at pounding out criticism on their keyboards ever tried to pitch with a shoulder problem?

Garcia has been one of the best young lefty starters in baseball over the first two full seasons of his career. He was 26-15 with a 3.17 ERA in 2010 and 2011. He struck out almost three times as many people as he walked.

It's obvious that his shoulder hasn't been right all year. And we can all sit here on our high horses and say that he should have been the bigger man and stepped aside when his health wasn't right. But I'd like a list of major league pitchers who are perfectly healthy in October. I'd venture to say that every one of them is sore and stiff and that it probably takes longer and longer to recover after an outing.

The same people who are griping that Garcia should have begged out of the game Monday would be on their soap box shouting that he was a coward for not trying to pitch at less than 100 percent if that's what he did.

And now the message boards are full of people who want to see Garcia traded or even released. Get a grip. He just turned 26 years old in July and he only has two full, healthy seasons under his belt. Good thing we didn't bail on him when he had elbow problems in the minors...

I am also tired of hearing that he is a head case. Even yesterday when he was fighting a sore shoulder and having problems finding the strike zone, he was battling like crazy. He struck out the last man he faced, for crying out loud, holding the best team in the National League to one run.

This talk that he can't pitch on the road is completely overblown. Yeah, Garcia's numbers are better at home. But they aren't exactly awful on the road. He's 14-12 with a 4.47 ERA. And have you seen some of the National League parks that aren't exactly pitcher friendly? Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Chicago and Houston all have ballparks that aren't exactly as forgiving as Busch Stadium.

So let's take a few deep breaths here and give a very talented young player a chance to heal. All the Cardinals power right arms are exciting. But something that's even more exciting is sandwiching a curveballing lefty between a couple of them in the rotation.

I hope Garcia will do whatever he can do to get his shoulder right and come back as strong as he did from elbow issues.