St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill promoted to enhance bench, spell Tommy Pham?

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Tyler O'Neill
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Tyler O'Neill /

The St. Louis Cardinals are set to promote brawny outfielder Tyler O’Neill to provide a power bat on a deeper bench and to possibly spell the aching Tommy Pham.

The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that they will promote slugging outfielder Tyler O’Neill today.  The corresponding roster move is not yet known, but many are speculating that the odd man out will be a reliever rather than a position player.  We will know the corresponding move by tomorrow morning.

Other reports are saying that the St. Louis Cardinals could be using their number four prospect to spell Tommy Pham who tweaked his groin in last night’s win against the Chicago small bears:

The team will have plenty of time to decide how to utilize O’Neill as today’s game is now postponed because Joe Maddon does not want to play in a little cold and wind when his team is struggling against the Cardinals who have won five straight games.

That game will be made up on Thursday, and we are hopeful that Joe Maddon finds room in his schedule to actually play these games.

If we see a reliever optioned as the corresponding move, then I think it is safe to say that the odd man out will be John Brebbia.  I am a big Brebbia supporter, but it is clear that Mike Matheny needs more options off the bench to suit his managerial style.  Moreover, the St. Louis Cardinals have several off-days built-in between series in the coming few weeks, thus mitigating the utility of an eight-man bullpen.

Why did the St. Louis Cardinals choose Tyler O’Neill?

St. Louis Cardinals
JUPITER, FL – FEBRUARY 20: Tyler O’Neill /

O’Neill is the hottest hitter in the minors right now.  That’s right, I did not limit that to the Memphis Redbirds.  O’Neill is tied for the league lead with six homers.

Additionally, nine of his 19 hits have gone for extra bases and he is currently boasting a .388/.385/.837 with an OPS of 1.221.  His thirteen runs, nineteen hits, six homers, and 18 RBIs have come in just 12 games and 49 at-bats.  Those numbers are insane.

Is there any bad news?  Maybe.  My concern with O’Neill is that his currently torrid pace is not sustainable.  In fact, some of his numbers stand out as concerning.

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You see that .385 OBP above?  O’Neill has achieved that OBP just through hits.  In fact, he has just one walk compared to 10 strikeouts.  That is a scary peripheral.  Do you know who else has 10 strikeouts for every 1 walk?  That’s right, Paul Dejong who now is competing for the league lead in punch outs.

That said, I love the move.  There is no question that O’Neill is locked in and this move reminds me a lot of the move to bring Tommy Pham to the majors last year when he was raking.  My main concern is that Matheny will not play O’Neill enough and will waste his hot hand.

If O’Neill comes to the majors, he needs to be playing.  If that means resting Pham so he can heal his groin, then great.  If that means giving Marcell Ozuna a day off or benching Dexter Fowler until he decides to play harder and perform better, so be it.

Tyler O’Neill cannot be a member of this team as power off the bench.  If that is his only role, then the team should not promote the prospect team of the week member at all.  I hope John Mozeliak had a conversation about these very points with Matheny before approving the move.

One thing is certain, I am excited to see if O’Neill can sustain his success against major league pitchers for the St. Louis Cardinals.  I hope Matheny plays him and sits players like Dexter to give them time off to work on things in the cage.

Someone should also tell Dexter that he is supposed to hustle aggressively for fly balls so Tommy Pham does not have to sprint over and slide/dive in front of him to make what should be an easy play for a right fielder with his speed.  But, that’s a topic for a different post.

Next: Memphis is Crushing Everyone and Everything

Do you all think this is a good move for the St. Louis Cardinals to make?  Is the timing right?  Do you think Mike Matheny will play O’Neill instead of struggling veterans like Dexter Fowler?  Leave a note in the comments or on Twitter and let us know!