Oscar Taveras hasn’t exploded onto the scene in his 137 at bats. This has caused Cardinal Nation, stuck watching an anemic offense all season, to jump to drastic conclusions such as…
GET HIM OFF THE TEAM!
SEND HIM DOWN TO MEMPHIS!
PLAY DANIEL DESCALSO IN RIGHT(only halfway joking with that one).
The truth is the 22 year old rookie is struggling. He is hitting .219 since the Allen Craig trade, and his bat has been struck by the team wide singles plague. He is hitting .212 overall. He has only 7 extra base hits in his 29 hits. He is getting beat by fastballs and his line drive rate is down. Oscar sometimes swings so hard the stadium shakes and his helmet flies off his head. The kid is trying hard to be great. It’s too bad he has to be great so soon. This is his first season. Coming after two seasons marred by lower body injuries and false starts, Oscar was brought up on May 30th to basically take over the mantle previously held by Keanu Reeves in the Matrix. THE ONE!
After a big home run against the Giants(back when Michael Wacha was pitching), Taveras fell off in 10 straight starts. He was sent down to work on his mechanical flaws(or so the Cardinals told us). He came back up on July 1st and didn’t explode with the bat at the plate. He shared a platoon with Allen Craig and didn’t collect many hits or hit balls too far. He had a couple multi-hit games but that was it. Fans either screamed for more starts or screamed for him to be demoted again. Since Craig’s departure, he hasn’t taken off yet. He plays a fair right field, collects singles, a walk here and there but isn’t dazzling. Fans are restless. That’s the way hardcore fans and several casual ones are built. This is the majors and results are expected.
I honestly don’t know what goes through this kid’s head. I am sure he sees plenty of the chatter about him and the Joe Buck comment storm had to find him. It would be crude to say he isn’t feeling pressure that is abnormal for a rookie to feel in his first exposure to the big leagues. Every time he comes to the plate, I wish for him to hit a line drive somewhere. I want him to succeed so the whispers go away and he can relax. I still don’t think he has relaxed yet. Sure, it’s not good practice to take it easy in the big leagues but man when you are a 22 year phenom being compared to Albert Pujols and sitting at the center of a trade aftermath, a little pressure may weigh down on one’s shoulders. I merely wish Oscar could just play and let the chips fall where they may.
Back in May, many(including yours truly here) thought he could help the team explode. That didn’t happen. Months later I have come to a conclusion that may be boring but it’s just one man’s take. Oscar won’t become a good hitter in 2014. He will most likely do that in 2015. He needs an offseason and a full spring knowing he is here to stay. Promising him a starter’s job in 2015 doesn’t have to happen, but coming into camp knowing he can make this team with a good effort would be nice. I don’t see him shortening his swing this season. I don’t see him making those quick adjustments. He may launch into a flurry for a week or two but he will finish around .250 with a few home runs and doubles. He may start to get antsy and strike out a lot. He may make a small adjustment and get on base. I just don’t think he will be the player everybody wishes him to be. Not right now.
He shouldn’t be sent to Memphis. He does need to play. Until the Cards have a better option than Shane Robinson, Oscar plays every day. If John Mozeliak wants to call on Randal Grichuk(22 home runs), Tommy Pham or Stephen Piscotty this month or after rosters expand, he can do that. A little young friendly competition may give Oscar a good nudge. Mo can bring in Alfonso Soriano to supply a power surge and part time bat, but I doubt that at this point.
For now, it’s Oscar’s time to not take over or shine but simply work on his swing and MLB ability. Step to the plate, give it your best shot and stop thinking. If he could unclog his head(hard as ever for a young man at this level toppled with expectation), Oscar may be able to surge for a bit. I just don’t know. I will say this. I don’t regret the Boston trade. I don’t regret seeing Oscar get the last two weeks to play. He should continue to play unless Mo gives Mike Matheny a new toy to play with.
I wouldn’t rule out seeing Mark Ellis or Daniel Descalso in right field but I would prefer Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay getting reps if Oscar has to see the bench here and there. The plan is still in motion. Play Oscar. See what happens. That plan just takes patience. Patience that Cardinal Nation simply doesn’t have in this tumultuous 2014 season.
In a perfect world, the rest of the lineup would be producing so the onus wouldn’t fall on Taveras. Then again, what is a 162 game baseball season without unexpected drama and stress?
Oscar starts in right field tonight and bats 7th. How will he do? What will the reaction be? Will he acquire the Lord status with another 1-4 night or finally be looked at as one of the guys on this 25 man crew?
Only time will tell. I have time. Do you?
Thanks for reading,