Cardinal fans coveted Josh Donaldson long before the Blue Jays started shopping him in earnest, and as this year’s non-waiver trade deadline neared, many an anonymously sourced trade rumor pointed to St. Louis as a likely landing spot. He was the answer to every prayer about the Cardinals adding the proverbial “big bat in the middle of the lineup”. Adding an All-Star in August for a September run was a no-brainer.
Then the Indians managed to swing a deal for the former AL MVP, and all hope was lost. That the Indians pulled off the coup quietly for a player to be named later and received cash in the deal was the icing on the “Cardinals not serious about winning” cake.
It’s funny how quiet those pockets of front office resistance have become.
Since being activated from the DL, Donaldson is hitting .219/.306/.406 over 10 games. Referencing such a small sample size inevitably invites finger pointing from those still pining for Donaldson, and that’s to be expected if not necessarily welcomed. Donaldson’s efforts were always going to be a small sample size though, and it’s fair to judge someone on 10 minutes of work when they are only scheduled for a 15-minute shift. One would be foolish to argue that Donaldson’s present run works as a useful predictor of future long-term success, but he’s not playing for Cleveland’s long-term success.
Meanwhile in St. Louis, Jedd Gyorko’s return from the disabled list nearly coincided with Donaldson’s, and the Cardinals are currently being rewarded for steadfast belief that they didn’t need Donaldson as much as many thought. Gyorko has produced a slash line of .345/.444/.414 over the 11 games since being activated. While impressive on its own merits, that .818 OPS does not seem out-of-place with the .267/.348/.436 (.784 OPS) Gyorko produced this season before his DL trip.
Obviously, the point being made here is not that Gyorko is better than Donaldson nor does he need to be. He just needs to continue being what he already is, and he’s already good at being a guy who doesn’t need to be replaced. As for the fans who remain insistent on pushing the “Cardinals not serious about winning” narrative, let them eat their cake. They can enjoy it while the Cardinals push forward in their playoff quest.