St. Louis Cardinals: Tommy Pham Needs to be in the Majors
The St. Louis Cardinals starting center fielder is 2 for 18 this past week, and has struggling at the plate for several weeks, while a forgotten talent continues to linger in triple-A Memphis. It’s time for a swap.
Let’s start with a quick rundown of Randal Grichuk as a ballplayer:
- He’s got excellent power, 30-40 HR power.
- He’s been surprisingly… serviceable defensively in center field.
- His speed is fine.
However, Grichuk sports another trait, one that’s… less desirable.
- His plate discipline is poor, and leads to excessive strikeouts.
Bingo. There’s his problem. After a two-week struggle at the beginning of the season, Grichuk seemed to have found some modicum of control, and started to take more walks and see more pitches. It didn’t last long. He’s fallen into the same lull as he has been in months past, only accruing 1 single and 1 double over the last week.
Certainly, there’s other options to replace Grichuk in the outfield, but none of them are particularly ideal. Jeremy Hazebaker has completely fizzled out, providing almost nothing offensively and continually taking subpar routes in the outfield. Brandon Moss, despite being able to slot into an outfield slot, only has significant experience. Stephen Piscotty, arguably the best option, hasn’t been endorsed as a solid enough fielder to play center, and there would be nobody to fill in the right field spot.
That brings us to Tommy Pham.
Pham emerged as a surprising star at the end of last season, even coming in clutch with a couple huge playoff hits, including a home run. He proved himself as a solid top-of-the-order guy, with surprising pop and great range in center. But he’s extremely injury-prone, suffering from quad injuries the past few seasons.
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Continuing to drive this theme, Pham played a grand total of less than one game in 2016, on Opening Day, before being sidelined with an oblique injury, rendering him useless for several weeks. When he returned, he was placed in Memphis, due in large part to Aledmys Diaz earning his place on the 25-man. There have been several instances in which Pham should have been called up: namely, Ruben Tejada and Greg Garcia’s call-ups.
A Tommy Pham call-up would warrant one of either two players swapping places with him: Grichuk himself or Jeremy Hazelbaker. Hazelbaker seems like the obvious choice: he’s a poor bat off the bench, and provides little more than being a pinch runner.
The argument for Grichuk being assigned is simple, but not agreed upon by many: his problems at the plate are not a slump, but a problem with the core mechanics of his hitting and his discipline. Maybe he does need a stint in Memphis to improve that facet of his approach and become that 30-40 dinger guy we hope for.
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Whatever the circumstances may be, one thing is for certain: Tommy Pham needs to be called up immediately, while the Cardinals’ starting center fielder struggles and while Pham is healthy. The guy’s too good to sit idly by in Memphis.