The St. Louis Cardinals are recalling a reinvigorated outfielder as they should. The problem was how the team handled his absence.
The 2019 iteration of the St. Louis Cardinals seems to always find a way to leave fans puzzled. Whether it’s starting lineups or roster moves (or lack thereof) there have been plenty of things for fans to be frustrated and confused about.
Today, there is another thing to add to that list. Harrison Bader is being recalled to join the Cardinals in game two of the series against the Milwaukee Brewers and Randy Arozarena is being sent back down.
The move itself is not the problem.
After struggling mightily despite numerous opportunities, it was clear that Bader needed a mental reset and a jump start of his confidence at AAA. His .195 batting average at the MLB level this year won’t cut it and the team waited too long to make the move, but it was made and that’s what counts.
During his 15 games at AAA, Bader slashed .322/.429/.678 and matched his home run total in 90 games in the Majors this year with six over those 15 games. He looked more confident at the plate and was still playing a great center field, which is exactly what needed to happen for the 25-year-old.
While it was a great stint for Bader, it has to be noted that there was pretty much a guarantee that Bader would be called up sometime this week.
He earned the call up sure, but it is fair to wonder that if Bader had returned to AAA and struggled, would he still have been called up?
My confusion and frustrations with the team aren’t that they called Bader back up, it’s how they managed the outfield in his absence. This is becoming a drum that it seems is starting to beat more and more, but Mike Shildt refused to play the best lineups in Bader’s absence when outfield at-bats were available.
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When Bader went down, the team called up another young outfielder, Lane Thomas who was shortly after joined by Randy Arozarena in St. Louis. Thomas had already been a missing person in the lineup despite producing in more or less every opportunity given. The outfield at-bats have, instead, been given to utility infielders Yairo Munoz and Tommy Edman, both of which have OPS’s well below league average.
Edman has gotten hot again recently, but with two young outfielders on the roster, it is inexcusable to play Edman in right field where he lacks the range and the arm or the experience to be out there and at the top of the lineup.
This point goes especially for Randy Arozarena. For the majority of the middle part of the season, 52 games, Arozarena batted .368 with a 1.006 OPS in the Memphis lineup with eight steals and seven homers. His .442 OBP fits perfectly at the top of any lineup. He has been the best hitter in the organization all year and it took the team four months to finally call him up.
When they finally did, how did Mike Shildt decide to use him? In the eight games that Arozarena was with the Cardinals, he got two starts and appeared in just three games. In his eight plate appearances, he got just two hits, but how can you justify the lack of playing time? It’s ridiculous.
In his debut, he went 2-4 with an RBI and then went 0-4 the next day and never picked up a bat again. During Arozarena’s time up, Edman appeared in every game and started seven of them, four of them at right field.
Arozarena hit better than Bader did and never got his chance, even when he came up. I’m at a loss for words. The same can be said for Thomas but at this point, I am not sure how the team views Lane Thomas and he seems like a lost cause in how the team is going to use him.
This situation was yet another case of frustration caused by the Cardinals this year and the blame for it can be spread on John Mozeliak and Mike Shildt. For analytically minded men, they really don’t seem to realize what the best move is in some situations that seem so clear and easy. I guess we’ll see Arozarena on September 1st.