The subject of devaluing your own asset has been a hot button for me for years, going back to even before the Colby Rasmus days.
The latest example on the St. Louis Cardinals is rookie outfielder Oscar Taveras. In the post-season, manager Mike Matheny has installed Taveras’ first-year teammate Randal Grichuk as the club’s two-way starter in right field.
The results – past and present – do not warrant this, but Grichuk continues to start against both left-handed pitching (he should) and against righties, too (he should not). One benefit stated by the Cardinals is Grichuk’s fielding, a source of considerable praise. However, if optimal defense was the goal, then the solution would be to play Peter Bourjos instead.
A left-handed hitter who should also be in the outfield mix is Taveras, known for his bat. However, the talented 22-year-old appears to be in the organization’s dog house currently, having made no post-season starts through six games.
It appears that some, perhaps even in the clubhouse, tied unhappiness over popular Allen Craig having been traded away to the arrival of top-prospect Taveras. It seems too bad as one or more of them might serve as a mentor for a player who apparently needs one.
Specifically, there is the matter of Taveras’ approach. He was disciplined in the minor leagues for lack of hustle and the reputation has shadowed him in the big leagues as well.
Now, with Grichuk scuffling at the plate in the post-season, the public line has moved from praise of Grichuk to expressing doubts about Taveras. Organization officials, starting with general manager John Mozeliak, have taken to the press to outline Taveras’ faults, including diminished quickness.
In a Sunday article by David Wilhelm of the Belleville News-Democrat, Mozeliak was quoted as saying about Taveras: “He looks like he’s put on some weight. It probably doesn’t help. Does 20 pounds help you?”
Matheny added that he did not see Taveras as a viable starting option against Jake Peavy in NLCS Game 2, despite Taveras’ apparent advantage over the right-handed hitting Grichuk.
The Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss suggests that Taveras’ “untouchable” trade status has changed. Another P-D columnist, Bernie Miklasz, has weighed in by saying he would be surprised if Taveras is still with the team in 2015.
Taking this at face value, why would the Cardinals then drive down the perceived value of such an important asset by making negative comments to the media? Does anyone really think that Taveras would read these quotes and change? How does this approach best serve the interests of the club in the short or long term?
If I am one of Mozeliak’s peers engaged in a trade discussion this winter, the first thing I would quiz him about is his view that Taveras is slower and less-conditioned. After all, why should anyone pay full value for an asset his current owner has clearly placed on the scratch-and-dent table?
On the other hand, perhaps the trade talk is overblown and the club really wants to help Taveras become better as a Cardinal. In that case, the following remark from the general manager would appear consistent, even if poorly-aimed, in my opinion.
“My hope is that he sees this as a bit of a wake-up call for him,” Mozeliak told Strauss, later adding, “He’s obviously not playing.”
The last sentence is really the bottom line.
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