A couple notes before the Cardinals try to right the ship by throttling arch-nemesis Bud “Chuck” Norris:
* At some point the Cardinals are going to be rewarded for the 4-year investment they made in Jaime Garcia…right? The kid’s been a head case since day one. I remember watching him make his major league debut – as a LH reliever out of the pen – and he was shaking and sweating so much I thought he was going to pass out. I had never seen a player so nervous on the field. Since that time, he’s demonstrated an unusual level of anxiety and emotional reactivity to baseball situations. Reports suggest Garcia is the most “superstitious” member of the team with rigid routines and rituals that must be followed prior to each start. Any deviation from his schedule supposedly produces anxiety. And we’ve all seen what happens on the mound when Garcia becomes anxious.
I’m not sure what, exactly, is bothering him – the club says he’s medically sound (not that they have a great track record with medical evaluations) – but by Garcia’s own admission, he’s just “not right.” Maybe it’s time to look at other sources for Jaime’s struggles. In the past, the team has blamed a “lack of focus” for Jaime’s crumbling acts…but perhaps the issue is more dire than simply exaggerated distraction. Is it possible Jaime suffers from a sort of anxiety disorder? He wouldn’t be the first. Khalil Greene, Zack Grienke, Joey Votto…all have fallen victim to some form of mental health obstacles. It’s entirely possible Garcia is suffering from something similar. The lack of focus, the rigid pre-game routines, the unpredictable and inconsistent results – even his reputation for impeccable grooming, as odd as that sounds…all could be superficial signs of a mental health struggle.
Without talking with Jaime more, it’s all speculation – but something is certainly wrong. And it’s not just a recent concern. His mysterious issues have been gradually getting worse. How long until we begin to seriously question the benefits of the four-year commitment to Jaime Garcia?
* So the Cardinals drafted Tate Matheny. Honestly…I saw that coming. It just seemed inevitable. From what I’m reading, it seems more than likely Tate chooses to play college ball instead of starting his pro career early, which makes the Cardinals’ choice to draft him fairly inconsequential…but it’s still intriguing. Mike Matheny has been very public with the request he made of the Cardinals – the one where he asked them not to draft his son. Referencing Chris Duncan’s ridiculous treatment by fans, Matheny expressed a desire to help his son avoid such pressure and perception. The Cardinals publicly appeared to accept and honor Mike’s request…but an undertone to the whole matter still existed. For some reason, I still got the sense the Cardinals were keeping their options open. And now, on the draft’s final day, the organization did in fact draft Tate Matheny. Maybe he never plays for the Cardinals’ system. Maybe he commits to college and the matter is forgotten. Mike’s statements about an “honest” number it would take for his son to skip college certainly suggest an adequate amount may not be possible given the new draft rules. And maybe the Cardinals simply drafted Tate to keep him from going undrafted – a sort of favor, if you will, to the Matheny family – to give him options and save a bit of dignity, if necessary. Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to see how the situation plays out. Personally…I think Matheny’s integrity and honest approach to this team could be perhaps the only father/son manager/player situation in the majors that could avoid charges of nepotism.