What Can We Do With Jaime Garcia?
In the midst of celebrating a resounding 12-4 victory over the Nationals in the NLDS, a cloud of postseason drama (can we have a postseason without some of that?) swirled overhead. Enigmatic left-hander Jaime Garcia left the game after two innings due to increased pain in his left shoulder. After his exit, he admitted that the should had bothered him for several days, but he neglected to discuss this with the team because he hoped it would “get better.”He probably learned that thinking from team surgeon George Paletta.
Now it’s clear that Paletta’s original prescription for Garcia’s torn labrum (4-6 weeks of rest, as always) did not work. That plan of inaction, combined with Garcia’s unwillingness to share his true medical condition, put the Cardinals’ entire postseason at risk yesterday. Now it risks Garcia’s entire career.
So what can we do with Garcia now that he’s broken? In the immediate sense, the Cardinals removed him from the postseason roster and replaced him with organizational phenom Shelby Miller (get used to the postseason, kiddo!).
But with the Cardinals now committed to Garcia for $6MM a year through 2017, decisions need to be made quickly about where he stands and how he can be used going forward.
First and foremost, Garcia needs to have surgery. In fact, I’m already on record as predicting that Garcia will have surgery by the end of the year (see: On The Record: Jaime Garcia’s Medical Issue from June 10, 2012). Resting a torn labrum worked for Skip Schumaker because he’s not a pitcher. I have no idea why a medical professional like Dr. George Paletta cannot see what seems so obvious to me. What medical university did he attend? Big Don’s Downstairs Doctor And Clown Community College?
Thanks to taking a two-month “wait and see” approach earlier this year, Garcia’s rehabilitation from surgery will now eat up some or all of his 2013 season. Will he regain his form?
Even if Garcia manages to return to full strength following surgery (no easy task), questions about his mental and emotional makeup need to be addressed. The erratic behavior, the tantrums, and the unwillingness to come clean about poor health indicate a definite disconnect with organizational thinking.
Unfortunately, any chance the team had to unload Garcia in the offseason have now been crushed thanks to this surprise medical revelation. Essentially, we’re stuck with him.
Fortunately, the Cardinals have a stockpile of strong young arms waiting to replace him in this postseason and next year. But what happens when Garcia returns? Whose progress should be put on hold so that Garcia can occasionally pitch in the rotation?
The team is faced with tough and unpleasant decisions regarding their troubled-but-promising lefty. One can only hope that he learns a valuable lesson from this experience, one that will help him and the team in the future. Otherwise, the Cardinals just lost a lot of money and time gambling on a headcase.