Updated: Feb 9, 2019
December 2017 the St. Louis Cardinals announced that RF Stephen Piscotty had been traded to the Oakland A's in exchange for minor league players infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock.
As it turned out, a win-win situation. Piscotty did well for the A's in 2018. And, Munoz made quite the impression in Cardinals 2018 Spring Training hitting .375 BA/.423 OPS/.625 SLG over 48 at bats while playing six positions. So much so, he made the 25 man roster out of Cardinals Spring Training over that of CF Harrison Bader. He made his debut Opening Day, March 29, 2018, as a pinch hitter against the New York Mets. Not a memorable debut, but none-the-less, he was on the Big Stage.
On April 2, at Miller Park against the Milwaukee Brewers, Munoz was brought into the game in the eighth inning to cover third base. In the ninth, he connected for his first 'two out' major league hit for a single. On May 28, back at Miller Park, he slugged out his first major league homer for a two-hole shot to put the Cardinals first runs on the board.
Not long after, at Busch Stadium, the then 23 year old Yairo Munoz was the hero of the game, May 31 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was celebrated at the plate with his first major league three-run homer walk-off win.
The month of May was his month holding a slashline of .424/.457/.636/1.094 to boost his April .118 BA to a .371 BA after two months with 22 games/51 at-bats. He closed his season, 108 games/293 AB/.276 BA/.350 OBP/.413 SLG/.763 OPS. Munoz gave the Cardinals 8 HR/42 RBI while holding a 30-71/BB-SO ratio in his rookie season.
As the season progressed, Cardinals fans learned Munoz was the utility player extraordinaire - virtually able to cover any position on the field, save first base and catcher. He had the capability to cover the infield and outfield. And, was called upon to do it all.
SPRING TRAINING 2019
The one factor I'm sure will be a top priority to work on in Spring Training for Munoz, his fielding. He closed 2018 with a strong bat but, also, with a glaring 18 errors committed. He loves his 'job' and has gusto along with a 'lot of energy' which I so enjoy seeing. However, much needed concentrated effort is going to be necessary for this young player in the upcoming season.
No longer do the Cardinals have the services of outstanding utility player Greg Garcia, who was picked up off waivers in November 2018 by the San Diego Padres.
The Cardinals exchanged Robinson from the Texas Rangers for 3B Patrick Wisdom. Other than Robinson being a 'southpaw' and another that holds value as a utility player, I'm missing the strength is this particular move. The Cardinals felt another left-handed hitter was needed for their roster. With the crowd at third base already on their roster, Wisdom was their first choice. However, I feel this particular 'exchanged' seemed to be heavily one-sided at face value.
"Robinson, 26, batted .183 with three home runs and 20 runs scored over 47 games for the Rangers last season. He’s a career .204 hitter in the MLB [9 HR/22 RBI] over two seasons. Robinson could fill multiple roles with the Cards as he played at least one game at all three outfield positions, second base, third base and shortstop last season.
Wisdom, 27, hit .260 with four homers over 32 games with the Cardinals last season, his first with time in the majors. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Memphis, batting .288 with 15 homers and 61 RBIs." (Fox Sports Midwest)
I would say Munoz's biggest hurdle will be to 'out play' Robinson in Spring Training in the field. A right-handed hitter, but effective.
Adding such a weak left-handed hitter 'just because', makes no sense to me. At least, not hands-down apparent sense. Unless Robinson is decisively better in the field (which in his two seasons, 95 games played he committed 12 errors total in six positions), do I see the possibility of him making the final roster decision.
And, a side note, we have accepted Kolten Wong's strong defense vs. offense over six seasons. With being another left-handed hitter, will the same be afforded to Robinson should he prove to be the better of the two, he and Munoz, in the field?
In my opinion, Munoz has his work cut-out for him. Even though, his bat may supersede and win out over defense. In the upcoming Cardinals Spring Training we will see them both, I'm sure. To see how this plays out.
I look to Gyorko to earn his spot behind Matt Carpenter who is expected to be Cardinals everyday third baseman.
The enthusiasm of Yairo Munoz is heartfelt. He brought energy to the team and played hard in his rookie season. No one was more disappointed in his "mistakes made" than he was. I want him to keep the energy level he displayed, but just tone that down in the field to increase his glove power with a new concentrated and accurate effort.
NOT ONLY MUNOZ DEFENSE - CARDINALS AS A WHOLE
But Munoz is not the only one with errors committed. The Cardinals, as a whole, last season committed 133 errors total. 'Bottom of the Barrel' MLB ranking at 30th - worst in both leagues. So, the whole team needs improvement. But, still does not excuse Munoz 18 - he just had company in the venture.
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