Is the pressure off Oscar Taveras?

I’ve read a lot since the Lackey trade was made that freed up right field for Oscar Taveras, that Taveras can relax now and just focus on playing. I have to ask, what do they think he was he doing before?

Much has been said about the pressure that Oscar Taveras must feel as he’s looking over his shoulder in worry that if he goes 0-for-4 he might not play tomorrow. I really hope he wasn’t focusing on failure. That’s not how you succeed. Hopefully he was focusing more on the effects of getting hits on his playing time.

In the book The Art of Racing in the Rain — I know, sorry I’m dropping racing book references here in the middle of a baseball post — the main character, race car driver Denny Swift, talks about how while driving a race car your car goes where your eyes go. So if you’re looking at the wall as your car starts sliding, odds are you’re going to hit that wall because you’re focusing on it and not your way out of trouble.

The same could apply to a baseball player or really in any aspect of life. If you’re focused on what happens if you fail, you’re going to fail. Focus on what happens when you succeed, like getting more playing time, you might eventually do just that.

In my opinion, the pressure on Oscar is even greater now. Think about what just happened.

Taveras went from being in a playing share with Allen Craig. If he didn’t hit, there were excuses for poor play. Well, he’s not playing enough. He’s not getting consistent at bats. He’s worried about not playing tomorrow. He’s just not been put in a good situation.

The trade deadline came and Craig was traded to Boston for a starting pitcher. John Mozeliak basically said, “Here you go Oscar, right field is all yours.” The Cardinals have the 5th best starting rotation in baseball, they have the 29th best offense.

With no further addition to the offense at the deadline, that’s Mozeliak putting his faith behind Oscar Taveras and pushing his chips in on Taveras’ shoulders. Now you have a nation full of Cardinals fans expecting Oscar Taveras to be the savior of this offense, the missing link, if you will, to the team’s success. He has been implicitly endorsed as such. No more excuses.

But what happens if he doesn’t hit?

Right. No pressure.