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Evaluating Greg Garcia’s case for a roster spot

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A utility infielder who gets on base: does he have a roster a spot?

St Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

As we gear up for another tireless season of Cardinals baseball, I’ve been looking at the players who are teetering between a 25-man roster spot out of Spring Training and a trip to Triple-A to start the year.

Two weeks ago, we looked at outfielder Tommy Pham. Today, we’ll check out infielder Greg Garcia.

Here’s what those who participated in a Twitter poll yesterday thought:

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The left-handed-hitting Garcia debuted back in April of 2014 but didn’t maintain a steady role until 2015, when he appeared in 49 games and garnered 87 plate appearances off primarily off the bench for the Cardinals.

I can’t knowingly pass up the opportunity to bring up one of the weirdest baseball moments I’ve witnessed, so please enjoy the following video:

With injuries to Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta and Kolten Wong’s brief, yet eyeopening demotion to the minors in June, the 27-year-old Garcia found himself in 99 games for St. Louis last season, and he performed notably well, actually, much different than other utility infielders of recent times, i.e. Daniel Descalso.

Garcia thrived with a great .338 wOBA and reached base 39.3 percent of the time, including 38 occasions via the walk. Garcia’s 2016 on-base success, partially fueled by his 85.8 contact percentage, shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, considering he managed a .380 OBP over 637 career games in the minors.

On a Cardinals team that’s relatively not versatile, Garcia has been a welcomed piece, as he can hold his own at all four infield positions, especially the middle infield. Garcia started 50 games for the Cardinals last season and combined to log 526 of his 661 total defensive frames — or about 80 percent — between second base and shortstop.

The Cardinals will enter their spring camp with a unique slate of opportunities before them, a substantial difference between the current club and those of previous years. The Cardinals could opt to carry thirteen pitchers and twelve position players or do the opposite, and either makes sense, and (to me, anyway) that’s intriguing.

An eight-man bullpen — which would imply a four-man bench (twelve total position players) and thirteen pitchers — could allow the Cardinals to carry two “long relievers”, an additional left-hander, or perhaps give Sam Tuivailala a full-time shot. What it would also do, in turn, is allow the Cardinals to carry just one additional outfielder and two spare infielders.

Kolten Wong has shown that he can play the outfield in a pinch, and maybe two utility infielders aren’t needed on the same roster. And if that’s the case, that would snub either Jedd Gyorko or Garcia of a spot, which does not sound like a decision the Cardinals want to make.

Thus, it seems most likely that the Cardinals will go with a thirteen-man group of a position players and fill the rest of their 25 roster spots with hurlers. In theory, this would allow Garcia to make the roster.

But alas, nothing is guaranteed.

That’s why we talk about it a lot.