A little over one year ago, after disappointing in the wake of signing a modest four-year, $8 million contract, Aledmys Diaz was designated for assignment by the St. Louis Cardinals. He’d come to the Cardinals on an initial wave of hype, was met by evaluations that then put “bench-type utility infielder” upside on him, and thus he signed that small deal. And then he struggled badly. So every team could have had him and his contract for nothing.
No team took him. Then he broke out in the minors, took advantage of injuries ahead of him this Spring, and laughed at evaluations of bench-type upside all the way to a .312/.376/.518 line in his rookie season. He’s posting better numbers across the board than he ever did in the minors – something young Cardinals players seem to do routinely. We joke about the Voodoo Magic, but the reality is, that organization is clearly doing something very right with these guys, because (much like with the Giants) it happens year after year with young players who weren’t otherwise on the national radar.
In any case, I set all that up as a backdrop to the news that the Cardinals had to place Diaz on the disabled list with a broken thumb, suffered this weekend when he was hit by a first inning pitch by Andrew Cashner, who’d just been traded to the Marlins. Diaz is likely to be out longer than the 15-day minimum.
(Incidentally, Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez retaliated in the bottom of the first inning, hitting Giancarlo Stanton. That led to three runs scoring in the inning … in a game the Cardinals lost by a run.)
With the Cardinals chasing the Cubs in the NL Central here in early August, being without one of their best players this season for a long stretch is a huge blow. The Cardinals had already been playing without Matt Carpenter (he was the best hitter in the league when he went down with an oblique injury) and Brandon Moss (he’d blown back up after a down year in 2015).
The Cardinals, of course, won’t get any sympathy from the Cubs, who’ve dealt with their own myriad of injuries. As things stand today, they’re 8.0 games behind the Cubs after briefly getting that lead down to 6.5 games last week. The Cubs remain an overwhelming favorite to win the NL Central, but we know how these things can go.
The Cardinals are a half game behind the Marlins for the second Wild Card spot right now. The Cubs continue their series against the Marlins tonight.