The Cardinals Made the Right Decision on Jaime Garcia

Like it or not, Jaime Garcia will be in the Cardinals’ rotation during the 2016 rotation. And at $11.5 million, he’s a modern baseball bargain.

Before we get into why Garcia is a bargain, I just want to point out that it’s pretty remarkable that a pitcher being paid $11.5 million is considered a bargain in our current baseball world.

But anyway, as I said earlier, the Cardinals made the right decision to pick up Garcia’s $11.5 million team option for the 2016 season, an option that, maybe 6 months or so looked like it would be an easy decline. But – much to his, as well as the Cardinals’ training staff’s credit – Garcia pitched his way into this option.

As we all know, over the course of his Cardinals career Jaime Garcia has struggled with almost constant injuries. And coming into the 2015 season, he was a bit of an afterthought with regards to the immediate rotation, and we were all counting on 2015 being his last year in a Cardinal uniform.

But after Adam Wainwright went down with an unfortunate April Achilles injury that would keep him out until the end of September, Garcia stepped up to become arguably the Cardinals regular season ace.

In 129.2 regular season IP, Garcia pitched to a 2.43 ERA with 97 strikeouts, only 30 walks, a 1.04 WHIP and a 3.00 WHIP. Granted, 129 innings is not an exceptionally high number, but what Garcia did in those innings is put up ace numbers.

Photo by Billy Hurst for AP.
Photo by Billy Hurst for AP.
Garcia delivers a pitch during a June game against the Kansas City Royals. Phot by Dilip Vishwanat for Getty Images
Garcia delivers a pitch during a June game against the Kansas City Royals. Phot by Dilip Vishwanat for Getty Images

So, let’s unfairly assume that Jaime Garcia maintains these splits over the course of 200 innings. His 2.43 ERA would be good for 4th overall in baseball, better than David Price, Max Scherzer, Jake DeGrom, and Dallas Keuchel. His 3.00 FIP would be good for 15th overall in baseball, better than Cole Hamels, Matt Harvey, Johnny Cueto , and teammate Carlos Martinez.

Now, until Garcia does pitch 200 innings in a season and put up these types of numbers, we can’t really assume all of this. But still, the point here is that when Garcia did pitch, he pitched exceptionally well.

And since I mentioned that Garcia’s 2016 option is a bargain, let’s take a look at his numbers compared to much more expensive players.

Felix Hernandez, he of a $25 million 2015 salary, pitched to a 3.53 ERA and a 3.82 FIP in 201.2 IP. Justin Verlander, he of a $28 million 2015 salary, pitched to a 3.38 ERA and a 3.59 FIP in 133.1 IP. And lastly, Rick Porcello, pitching on a $12.5 million salary – which is totally insane – posted a 4.92 ERA , good for 2nd worst in baseball, with a 5.13 FIP.

So Jaime Garcia’s 2016 salary will be less than half of what Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander are making, and a full million dollars less than what Rick Porcello will make. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a bargain.

Aside from the nasty stuff, the great numbers, and the bargain money, there’s something else about Garcia that not a lot of people give him credit for that makes me want to keep him around.

In the June issue of ‘Cardinals Magazine’, Stan McNeal wrote an article on the Cardinals new assistant head organizational strength coach, Rachel Balkovec. As she was helping Garcia work his way back during his rehab process, she said this after one of their spring training workouts, “His work ethic is absolutely insane. Jaime is one of the most relentless human beings I’ve ever met. He kicked my ass today.”

Regardless of what you think it should be like, the Cardinals have a culture, and it affects just about every personnel decision John Mozeliak makes; and Jaime Garcia’s relentless work ethic contributes heavily to that culture.

Teaching the next generation of Cardinal pitchers how to work and perfect their craft and be relentless is imperative to fostering success in St. Louis in the future. And that, almost more than any numbers Jaime puts up in 2016, might be more important than anything.

Just 6 months ago, Jaime Garcia’s 2016 option looked like a no-brainer decline, that the Cardinals would move forward with Marco Gonzales or Tim Cooney, or even Alex Reyes. But after a brilliant 2015 campaign during which he showed off his incredible skill set, Garcia will be wearing the birds on the bat once again in 2016, and that will prove to be a great thing.

John Mozeliak has made his first right decision of the offseason. Let’s hope he can keep this streak rolling all the way up to opening day.

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

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The Cardinals Made the Right Decision on Jaime Garcia

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