St. Louis Pulls Trump ‘Card’ with Stephen Piscotty
The St. Louis Cardinals have moved past the off-season departure of their star outfielder, Jason Heyward (who was a free agent), to the Chicago Cubs. As the Cardinals look to the future, they’re putting faith in Stephen Piscotty, their young outfielder to ably fill the void left by Heyward.
When Heyward skipped out on the Cardinals, it wasn’t without some controversy. He stirred up the already potent rivalry between the Cubs and Cards with his disparaging remarks about how the Cardinals’ aging core led him to jump for Chicago’s so-called fountain of youth — even for less guaranteed money than what St. Louis had offered him. To the Cardinals, Heyward’s comments about the St. Louis team made the sting of losing their primary off-season signing target a little more personal.
While the Cardinals may have a trio of core players past their prime, the team’s success won’t hinge solely on how Adam Wainwright (their ace) does on the mound, or what Yadier Molina (their gold glove catcher) brings behind the plate, or what their slugger, Matt Holliday, does with his bat this year. In fact, there’s a reason why, contrary to some expectations, St. Louis didn’t jump and search outside their franchise to replace outfielder Jason Heyward after he moved on.
The Cardinals preferred to toss the ‘aging-club narrative’ aside and replace Heyward with an even younger talent. Their intent all along was to end this offseason with a young right fielder (who’s already part of the St. Louis team) in place of Heyward. So, yes, Heyward bailed, but the Cardinals are excited about someone else — that someone is Stephen Piscotty, who on January 14, turned 25. The Cardinals believe Piscotty will serve as an immediate impact piece for their team, and that he is a long-term fit for the core St. Louis nucleus.
For the coming 2016 season, and beyond, the Cardinals are betting big on a pair of young outfielders, opting to give Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk a shot at excelling as everyday players. The Cards are looking to internal talent, rather than reacting to Heyward’s departure by conducting a strong pursuit of various free agents such as Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes or Alex Gordon.
Stephen Piscotty finished the 2015 season, his first in the big leagues, with some impressive stats:
- hits in 47 of his 63 games
- 18 multi-hit games
- batted .393 with runners in scoring position
- delivered 23 of his 39 RBIs with two outs
- had the 22nd-best average (.305) in the National League after the All-Star break
Piscotty also flourished in an otherwise forgettable 2015 Cardinals postseason, by becoming just the second rookie in MLB history to connect for three home runs in his first four postseason games.
Spring training is just around the corner, and the 2016 MLB regular season gets underway on April 3, when the Cardinals visit Pittsburgh for a three games series with the Pirates. It ought to be an exciting season, especially for Cards fans.