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Are the St. Louis Cardinals the NL version of the Guardians?

The most recent Cardinals news of the weekend was the announcement of former top prospect Jordan Walker being sent down after getting off to a sluggish start to the 2024 season on both sides of the ball.

He's been dealt a tough hand by being forced out of his natural position of third base to the outfield, where he's struggled defensively (-14 outs above average). This likely contributes to his offensive downturn (in the bottom quarter of MLB in almost every major offensive process statistic), thus the send-down.

This got me thinking: The Cardinals have fallen into a pattern of giving up on position players who turn out to be quality MLB players. Is this a sign of them becoming the NL's Guardians?

It's not quite to Cleveland's level, where you could field a whole lineup of former players (especially with the emergence of Amed Rosario and Will Benson in Tampa and Cincy, respectively), but man, is it rough.

Adolis Garcia, designated for assignment by St. Louis in 2019, is one of the best corner outfielders in baseball in both run production and prevention.

Randy Arozarena, dealt to the Rays before the 2020 season for former pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore, Edgardo Rodriguez (no longer with the team), and the Rays’ Competitive Balance Round B Draft Pick, won an AL ROTY award and set the world on fire with his 2020 postseason performance.

Ramon Urias was a Gold Glove winner who is putting up around 2 WAR a season for the Orioles after being DFAd by the Cards. Sandy Alcantara is a Cy Young winner who was dealt to Miami for Marcell Ozuna and another elite pitcher, Zac Gallen.

So, not only has the Cardinals' track record been rough for position players (their two best position players are Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, either signed via free agency or traded for), but they haven't developed any pitching talent either (Sonny Gray is fine, but the rest of the rotation is grim, and Gray was a free agent acquisition this offseason).

This is to say that the Cardinals are nearing Guardians-level mistakes. Luckily, Cleveland is off to a great start to the year, temporarily easing some of that pain. Still, the Cardinals have had no such luck, especially after a brutally disappointing 2023 season.

We'll see if either team turns things around soon.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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