After the tragic loss of Oscar Taveras, I noticed that some bloggers turned their gaze upon Randal Grichuk, someone who was considered an elite prospect not that long ago, and immediately said (and yes, I’m paraphrasing a little) “He’s not Oscar, we’re in trouble!”
This made me wonder if the ghost of Oscar will haunt Grichuk throughout the season: If he doesn’t make a timely hit to drive in a run, someone might say emphatically “Oscar would’ve gotten that hit!” or if he misses a catch, we might hear “Oscar would’ve caught that!”
The pressure to perform at the big league level is intense, something Oscar himself felt alot of, being a home grown uber-talent.
Grichuk didn’t quite have that, as he was acquired in a trade as a throw-in, a secondary addition designed to sweeten the pot and make the trade work. The primary pressure burden of that trade lay on Peter Bourjos.
Grichuk did have a little presure, as does every high end prospect. Now, however, I fear that the ghost of Oscar will increase that pressure at least ten-fold, especially in the online community.
As I said, Grichuk was an elite prospect not that long ago, and was on the roster, battling Oscar for playing time as recently as the playoffs. Randal had earned that playing time. He did struggle some, but so had Oscar during much of the season, to the point that his manager had called him out in public, a rare tactic for Mike Matheny to use. Grichuk obviously wasn’t alone in his struggles.
Grichuk has his strengths, he’s a thumper. With development and patience, he could turn into a 25 to 30 home run hitter. He’s at least an average fielder, and can get better over time. The plate discipline and successful contact will some things to keep an eye on, but I think given time, and mentorship from the likes of Matt Carpenter and others, he’ll get better in those areas as well.
All in all, Grichuk is an above average prospect, a seperate entity from Oscar who just might succeed if we give him a chance.
As such, I have a simple request: When Randall makes an error, or strikes out or does any other negative thing, instead of saying “Oscar would’ve done that” simply say Grichuk should’ve done that.” Also, when Randal does something well, celebrate, instead of saying: “Big deal, Oscar would’ve done that too.” Small things, but I think we need to encourage the right fielder of our future, not dwell on what might have been.
As always, thanks for reading.