Jaime Garcia was put on the disabled list the same day as Michael Wacha. June 22nd. The reason was shoulder related. On Saturday, July 5th, Cardinal General Manager John Mozeliak was informed by the team’s training staff that Garcia was going to undergo surgery to repair a nerve ailment in his shoulder. Via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Garcia had elected to undergo a procedure to fix an ailment called thoracic outlet syndrome. Doctors will take a portion of Garcia’s rib to help with the nerve ailment. Chris Carpenter had a similar procedure during his Cardinal career.
This comes after a 2013 season where Garcia missed a majority of the season due to a torn labrum, which required surgery. Garcia also underwent Tommy John Surgery earlier in his career. The idea is here, when will Garcia not be injured and be able to produce a 30 start season for a team that is paying him more money every season?
This isn’t a direct shot at Jaime. He has a brittle body that simply can’t withstand unconventional mechanics and a pitching motion that can’t be altered to prevent injury. Garcia sometimes lacks the mindset to compete from start to start but the bigger villain here is his shoulder and its inability to handle the workload of a starter. Some athletes can make it work and others can’t. While the elbow and back are potential career delays, the shoulder has proven to be an area where doctors can’t pinpoint a tactic to truly fix the ligaments and muscles once they take fire. Garcia is an unfortunate casualty of the shortcomings of human anatomy. This is a part fans don’t get. Garcia wants to compete but how much more time can Mozeliak waste.
It didn’t help that Mozeliak wasn’t informed by Jaime personally that he was taking the surgery instead of other less detrimental methods. Mozeliak seemed a bit perturbed during an interview with local media about the issue, but ended the session by saying it’s Jaime’s body and the team wants him to get better for 2015. Let’s talk about that.
What are the chances of Garcia pitching for the Cardinals again? It would be comical to take bets on the chances of another 30 start season so I won’t even bother there. He has a contract paying him 9.25 million in 2015 with club options for 2016 and 2017. The Cards will have to attempt to bring him back because there are no trade suitors and I doubt they outright release him and chew up his 9 million like a garden salad. Mozeliak will make one more attempt to wedge Garcia back into a rotation stuffed with young guns and able veterans.
Garcia has pitched over 600 innings with an ERA of 3.50 in his career but can’t stay on a mound for more than a couple months. How much longer does Mo hold off on young pitchers like Tim Cooney and Marco Gonzales from being potential place holders in a rotation when Garcia is always being promised a return spot? This is a tough love article and like many fans out there, I think it’s almost the end of the line for Jaime in St. Louis.
He arrived with a flourish in 2008, pitching in 10 games and starting one before missing all of 2009 to Tommy John. He returned in 2010 and put together a fine two year performance that included 60 starts, 358 innings, and a 26-15 record. He had a pair of complete game shutouts in 2011 and came less than 6 innings of the 200 inning mark. Unfortunately, that was the best we have seen so far in Garcia.
2012 was marred by shoulder injuries. 2013 was brief as well. After those 60 starts from 2010-11, Garcia has only started 36 games in the past three seasons. His body is deteriorating and isn’t getting any healthier with the increased work load of a starting pitcher.
The Cards and Mozeliak will give it a go but I don’t see it working out. There are guys like Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez who deserve a spot if healthy and younger weapons like Cooney and Gonzales who will be fixtures here soon as well. Baseball can be a poker table at times. You sit down, wage your wars with your one body and most of the time, the table wins. Players go back to the table and wage again but fall short for a second time. What happens when there isn’t a chair left?
Jaime Garcia will undergo his surgery. He will rehab and make a comeback. He is only 27 years old and is a great athlete and stays in good shape. I expect him to come storming back up Clark Avenue.
My message to Cardinals fans. Don’t hold your breath on this one. It’s has nothing to do with the questionable Cards medical staff. It has everything to do with the will of one man’s body to overcome genetics.
I don’t think we have seen the last of Jaime Garcia. I do think we have seen the best of him.
Thanks for staying and have a good finish to the weekend.