Jose Adolis Garcia became the seventh St. Louis prospect to make his major-league debut so far this season.
It doesn’t seem like the Cardinals’ roster shuffle is going to slow down any time soon with a waiver claim and players returning from injuries continuing to change the complexion of the team.
While I’m glad to see Garcia in the big leagues, it’s a shame that the opportunity has come at the expense of slugger Tyler O’Neill who developed a mystery ailment right as he was getting a real chance to show what he could do at the major-league level. For all the his talent, this trip to the disabled list must raise some eyebrows because it’s his fourth time he’ll miss action to injury in 2018.
When the Birds traded Tommy Pham, the idea was that the team would have a third of a season to evaluate a guy who has proven all he needs to prove in the minor leagues. It was encouraging how well O’Neill fit into the middle of the St. Louis lineup, protected in the fifth spot with Marcell Ozuna in front of him and Jedd Gyorko behind him.
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O’Neill showed well in his first few games as a regular — much better than he did during a brief call-up earlier in the season. He pushed his batting average over the .300 mark and seemed to have a much better grasp of the strike zone while still producing the power the Redbirds need so badly.
The Redbirds are adamant about telling anyone who will listen that O’Neill’s injury — diagnosed publicly as “groin inflammation — isn’t baseball-related. O’Neill even repeated that non-baseball alibi himself. So, until we get the final word, you can let your imaginations can run wild.
Regardless of which names are written on the lineup card, it’s refreshing to see the club playing better as a unit.
While Mike Matheny and John Mabry apologists say that the coaching staff doesn’t really make that much difference, a team that used to strike out 10 times a game almost every night has only done so once in the month of August. New manager Mike Shildt has introduced some winning baseball, putting emphasis on making productive outs instead of swinging for the fences over and over again.
While we’re seeing a lot of new faces, St. Louis fans may soon get a chance to see a familiar mug get back on the field. Longtime ace Adam Wainwright, who has been building up his arm in bullpen sessions after a long layoff due to persistent elbow problems, seems like he’s a couple weeks away from returning, barring any setbacks.
It would be great to see Wainwright prove that he’s still got it. But, suppose he did. Might he then decide that he doesn’t want to retire after the 2018 season? I’d hate to see him wear another big league uniform, where would he fit next year?
There remains a stash of arms in the Cardinals’ system waiting for their ticket on the roster shuttle.