clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Greg Garcia, September Callup?

The Cardinals should consider promoting Greg Garcia, and for more reasons than him not being Pete Kozma (though that's a pretty compelling one).

Greg Garcia wears high-socks, so he'd fit in on Sundays at the very least.
Greg Garcia wears high-socks, so he'd fit in on Sundays at the very least.

Azruavatar handled most of the heavy-lifting in preparation for September callups, identifying Ryan Jackson, Brock Peterson, Adron Chambers, Fernando Salas, Sam Freeman, Keith Butler, Michael Blazek, and (shudder) maybe Victor Marte as the likeliest candidates. Many of the same pitchers (minus Marte) were identified by Derrick Goold this morning.

This is an obligatory group that has already auditioned in St. Louis but didn't fare well enough to stick there, or they were never really given much of a chance in the first place. With the exception of a random LOOGY call of duty spot for Freeman, none of these guys are likely to find themselves in high-leverage situations, but they could help absorb innings in blowouts to keep more important arms fresh for the playoffs.

One name azruavatar did not mention who deserves consideration is Greg Garcia. Promoting him would require the Cardinals to make a 40-man roster addition, but that's hardly unthinkable. According to my count, the names without double-asterisks next to them equal 39, meaning one spot should be available. Even if the 40-man roster is full, Victor Marte is one of those men, and so it shouldn't be that difficult to get him on there.

Overall, Greg Garcia's year has fallen short of expectations created by his Palm Beach (A+) and Springfield (AA) performances, both of which had him thirty percent better than league average. Spring training hype left us hoping he could be the answer for when Pete Kozma inevitably turned back into a pumpkin. Garcia's slow start never really got that conversation going, but as pointed out by Lou in the 8/21 DFR, he has been swinging a hot stick lately. Better late than never, I guess. Check out his monthly splits (via Minor League Central):

April 69 .226 .304 .274 .048 .259 11.6% 10.1%
May 57 .238 .407 .310 .072 .278 10.5% 17.5%
June 94 .247 .337 .407 .160 .303 16.0% 11.7%
July 90 .243 .349 .338 .095 .309 20.0% 11.1%
August 76 .365 .474 .540 .175 .512 25.0% 10.5%
Total 386 .264 .371 .379 .115 .327 17.1% 11.9% 105

Despite uniformly underwhelming months April through July, Garcia's August has been just scorching enough to pull him above the league-average mark, not an insignificant feat for a shortstop. Track those BABIPs and you'll notice that much of his success corresponds to an absurdly high (and unsustainable) success on balls in play this month, and so many of the same caveats I wrote about Ryan Jackson in May apply to Greg Garcia now. Another reason for pessimism is that Garcia's strikeouts are at an all-time high in August, which is a weird thing to have correspond with a breakout month.

Dismissing Garcia's hot streak is not as simple as it was for Jackson, however, because their track records tell different stories. Jackson has been an above average hitter just once in his minor league career when he played in single-A back in 2010. Garcia, on the other hand, has been above average at every stop en route to Memphis. And as hard as it is to decode a left-handed hitter's stats in Springfield - Hammons Field is quite generous - Garcia basically duplicated there what he had already done for Palm Beach in 2011.

What separates Garcia from Jackson is the former's ability to draw walks (career 13% BB-rate) and consistently post higher BABIPs (career .334 BABIP). Most players can't sustain that type of success on balls in play, but the Cardinals seem to have a knack for finding guys who can (Jon Jay's .340, Matt Holliday's .342, Allen Craig's .343, David Freese's .350, and Matt Carpenter's .342). But even if Garcia turns into a normal BABIP guy, at least he has another skill to fall back on in strike zone awareness.

Maybe the team would want to see if he can offer more than they are currently getting out of the Kozma/Descalso platoon at shortstop. UZR and Total Zone both agree that Descalso can't really play shortstop and Kozma's offensive ineptitude is threatening historical precedent. The inherent risk in seeing what they have in Greg Garcia becomes less ominous when put in proper perspective, which is basically that he needs to be better offensively than Kozma and better defensively than Descalso.

These types of things are much easier in the blogging/fantasy world than real life. Maybe Mozeliak would not want to disrupt the team by taking away playing time from two guys who are presumably well-regarded in the clubhouse, but he's done more radical things lately... like forcing World Series MVP and St. Louis native David Freese into a platoon scenario to get Kolten Wong into the lineup. Greg Garcia and Wong, by the way, have played middle infield together ever since college. And if the Cardinals truly intend to pass on this year's trade market, then this might represent their last chance to upgrade the margins of the roster before the playoffs.