The Cardinals and Mike Matheny will need to make room for Pham, but this will not be an easy task.
Don’t get me wrong. I love, no scratch that, adore Jeremy Hazelbaker just as much as the next guy. There’s just something about an out of nowhere player succeeding on the game’s biggest stage. Seeing him talk during postgame and pregame interviews, and seeing him interact with fans in real life and on twitter, he seems like such a humble and awesome guy, someone who really meshes with the rest of the Cardinals roster. That’s why it makes it so so difficult for me to write this, but we have to face the facts. Hazelbaker has simply not performed recently:
In the month of May, Hazelbaker only held a .176 batting average, compared to the month of April where he held a .317 batting average.
Not only that but the Cardinal’s have struggled against left-handed pitching. This plagues Hazelbaker as well, batting only .207 against LHPs.
For a team that is struggling to win consistently, the Cardinals, no matter how hard it may be, can’t afford to wait for Hazelbaker to start performing again. Especially when Tommy Pham is sitting in the minors, ready to be called up. Pham needs to be called up someway and somehow, and I don’t see Matheny sending down Wong, or shortening his bullpen anytime soon. Although he’s coming off an 0-4 day, Pham has been hitting .286 in the month of June as has shown he can perform at the big league level.
The Hazelbaker ride was fun, but it's time to move forward.
— stlCupofJoe (@stlCupofJoe) May 29, 2016
Plus last year in the majors Pham was actually better against lefties, batting .278 against LHPs compared to .265 against RHPs. That is way above the team average of .245 against LHPs this year. This could mean more hits against lefties, and therefore more scoring chances, and thus more wins.
In addition to their contributions at the plate, their defensive contributions must also be considered. Although both Pham and Hazelbaker are both good defensive players, Pham has yet to make an error in the big leagues. He holds a perfect 1.000 Fielding Percentage in every outfield position. Hazelbaker, on the other hand, has recorded 3 errors in the outfield, and yet he’s started 15 less games than Pham has in the majors. With a team struggling with defense, as well as offense, bringing Pham back up just makes sense.
It’s always sad when a player has to be sent down, especially when they’re as great of a person and have as great of a story as Hazelbaker. And no matter how much I wish we could enlarge the active roster to 26, it’s just not possible.
Hazelbaker’s contributions and story of persistence will always dear to me and the rest of Cardinals Nation. I speak for all of us when I say we hope that if Hazelbaker is called down, it’ll be short lived, at that we’ll be seeing him again in the future.
Photo Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports