The Cardinals May Have Found a Long-Term Solution at Shortstop, If They can Endure Short-Term Struggles

It took injuries to Jhonny Peralta, Ruben Tejada, and Tommy Pham for Aledmys Diaz to finally get his shot at the major league level. On a chilly Tuesday night at PNC Park, the young shortstop took the field for the first time in a Cardinals uniform. No one really knew who he was two months ago, and certainly no one thought he had a chance to start game two of the long season at shortstop for the Cardinals.

But, after a strong spring and a trio of injuries, Diaz found his way to the Cardinals’ active roster. As soon as he took the field, Diaz looked confident and his confidence showed at the plate. In his first major league at bat, Diaz poked a single to the opposite field, giving the Cardinals their first hit of the night. He was able to really give the Cardinals momentum in this game, as Jon Niese had shut down the Redbirds through the first two innings.

After a sac bunt by Michael Wacha, Diaz would also record his first major league run off of a Stephen Piscotty single. Diaz’s hit represented a major turning point in the game, giving the Cardinals more confidence in their ability to produce runs and providing Mike Matheny with some relief by producing from the eight spot in the lineup. Unfortunately for Diaz, he would also represent another turning point in this game…

In the 5th inning, Michael Wacha pitched himself into a jam. The Pirates had the bases loaded with 1 out, and Francisco Cervelli hit a ground ball up the middle. Then, Diaz would showcase his youth and inexperience. Rushing the play, Diaz couldn’t make the transition from fielding the slow-rolling baseball to tossing it to Jedd Gyorko, and everyone was safe. More importantly, the lead was trimmed to 1 and Wacha would have to exit.

If Aledmys Diaz truly is the shortstop of the future, he will need to cut down these unnecessary bloopers in the infield. His blunder today created a major shift in momentum, and arguably lost the game for the Cardinals. The great ones at shortstop make that play once or twice in their careers, so Diaz will have to put this mishap behind him and move on.

For a guy that has been doubted and bypassed these last couple of years, Diaz has a very short leash and a lot to lose. It’s clear that Diaz has the bat speed to hit major league pitching and the discipline to extend at bats, but fielding blunders will only decrease his value as time goes on.