Ever since I heard the news, I wonder to what capacity will the St. Louis Cardinals use the Cuban infielder now that he is back with the team.
A couple of days ago, the St. Louis Cardinals announced former starting shortstop, Aledmys Diaz, would be returning to the big league team. While it isn’t a surprising move, considering it is September, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the move. More specifically, I would like to know what his role on the team is for the rest of this season.
The only clear thing for Diaz at this time is that he will no longer be the shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals. Paul DeJong has been an absolute revelation at the position for the Redbirds this season. DeJong will be the heavy favorite to retain the shortstop position for 2018, barring some crazy trade.
However, just because DeJong has a firm grip on the shortstop position doesn’t mean there isn’t any use for Diaz on the Cardinals. Don’t forget, last season, Diaz hit .300 with seventeen home runs and sixty-five RBI. Much like DeJong, Diaz was a revelation as well at short. Ask yourself a year ago who you thought the starting shortstop for 2017 was going to be, and you would have said Diaz.
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Granted, Diaz had, and still has, defensive short comings, but there wasn’t anyone to challenge him for the starting gig.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until his drastic struggles this year did the St. Louis Cardinals finally say, “Enough is enough.”
Once he was sent down to Memphis this year, most of Cardinal Nation wasn’t sure they were going to see him in St. Louis the rest of this year.
Fast forward to now, here we are with a peculiar case on our hands on what to do with Diaz. Unfortunately, his stint in Memphis did next to nothing to make me think he was going to succeed at the big leagues this year.
However, having played at the big league level already, Diaz still presents an option off the bench for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Personally, there are a couple of reasons why I think he was called up. the first being the injuries sustained to Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, and Jedd Gyorko. Yes, the Cardinals have options in Greg Garcia and Alex Mejia. However, an extra bat on the bench does not hurt the Cardinals in any sense. While we may not expect anything from him, he provides an additional player for the Cardinals in case the injuries become too much.
The second reason why the Cardinals would call him up is because he is already on the roster, and they believe his bat just needs to keep accumulating at-bats. Even if that were 100% true, it’s going to be hard for Diaz to find some playing time, considering how the rest of the team is performing. I have serious doubt Mike Matheny will mix up the lineup at this point with only ten games remaining.
That brings me to the roll you can expect for Diaz for the rest of this season.
I think it is fair to say Diaz is just a bench bat, but I think there is a little churning of the water going on. I personally believe he is going to be next year’s Greg Garcia. Diaz will be the “super” utility player for the Cardinals. If you think about it, Diaz does have versatility other players do not. He can play third, short, and second. Essentially, he is a right-handed Greg Garcia, with perhaps a tad more upside.
I don’t blame you if you are skeptical of Diaz. I’ll admit his fall from grace was so dramatic I don’t know if there is turning back from it. Mentally, he needs to find himself in the right spot, and we aren’t sure if he is there.
The only way Diaz is seeing the field is strictly on a match up basis. He will most likely only see left-handed pitching to exploit that matchup. However, I’m not sure what he could provide defensively. With so many questions surrounding him on the defensive side of the ball, and even with the bat, it’s hard to see the Cardinals really using him at all.
All that being said, the move certainly begs the question why bring him up if his status with the team is unclear. Outside of the reasons for his call up I listed, I’m not sure why else he is in St. Louis. I think many Cardinal fans are wondering instead why not Patrick Wisdom?
It’s a fair question that I’m sure would never get answered if asked to John Mozeliak or Mike Girsch. However, I’m not so sure I am ready to give up on Diaz like most. I think he still has some upside, if he can regain form. Otherwise, I’m of the mindset this may be his last season in a Cardinals uniform.
It’s entirely possible Diaz will not be on the team come next season. He will need to prove his offense and defensive capabilities can regain form come the 2018 season.