Jose Oquendo proved to baseball fans today that charging a one-hopper doesn’t have an age (check out Yadier Molina’s Instagram), but this latest dose isn’t about the secret weapon from those classic Whitey Herzog St. Louis Cardinals teams. It rhymes so well, I saved it for a time when Joey Gallo is involved in a trade for the #1 pitching prospect in the Cards system: Matthew Liberatore. Hello, Jim Bowden.
The guy who came over in the heartbreaking (for Cardinal Nation) trade that sent fan-favorite Jose Martinez and an outfield prospect who could be doing a lot better than Harrison Bader right now: Randy Arozarena. But Liberatore has the goods to back up the hype. This spring, he’s already making big league hitters flinch. The 2018 16th overall pick is only 21 years old and poised to sit atop the rotation in just a few seasons. Possibly less time.
Gallo is a fine hitter and someone who I have raved about for a couple years-but in the same way that you would rave about a “Fast and Furious” movie to a room full of your critics friends. You’re going to lose, so don’t even start. Every time I run Bowden’s idea through the “logic tuner,” I feel like Mike Tyson is getting ready to punch me in the face.
There were other pieces in the deal. Tyler O’Neill and Angel Rondon would go to the Rangers. St. Louis would receive Kyle Gibson, another hopeful backend rotation arm. Cue the shoulder shrug and WTF response. Gallo may average 41 home runs for every 162 game schedule, but he also averages 230 strikeouts by the same metric. He doesn’t hit doubles or collect many hits at all outside of the long ball. In only one season has Gallo ended up with more than 100 hits. 100? Ichiro Suzuki used to lap that mark.
Don’t even mention the Gold Glove award. Please don’t.
Nothing against Gallo, who is 27 years old and a free agent in two seasons, but the Cardinals lose this deal. Can he hit in the National League, which has gobbled up quite a few American League bashers and spit them out like bad soup? What about Busch Stadium? Will it be sad like the Tino Martinez and Andres Galarraga Cardinal eras? I wouldn’t bet on it, but it’s too big of a gamble.
I’m not one to stand firmly in front of prospects if the player being acquired can really make a big impact. But I don’t see that with Gallo, especially for a prospect like Liberatore-who could be Jaime Garcia with more wickedness and less “trouble.” (It’s not a direct comparison, pitcher gods. Just a southpaw reference. Chill.) Dan Uggla in the outfield isn’t a bad idea, but pick two Rondons instead of one high-prized arm. Be smart about it.
I get that Bowden likes to go for it and has to fill a page at times, but this is a bad proposal for St. Louis. I know the Cardinals stole the 2011 World Series right out from under them, but this won’t be the consolation prize.
PHOTO CREDIT: DAVID BERDING/USA TODAY SPORTS