It's weird, now that blanket disdain for all decision-makers isn't a vital part of the baseball blogger tool kit, just how much our picture of Aledmys Diaz changed once it came out that he'd be making $8 million over four years instead of 20. Last year he was going to be the plan at shortstop; now he's a backup plan among backup plans, with no particular ETA or role set out for him.
At least, no particular ETA or role set out for him by the Cardinals. $2 million a year for Cardinals fans, who can afford to be less equanimous about this kind of thing, puts him squarely in Daniel-Descalso-replacement territory. He is not accruing value over a replacement player; he is accruing value over a player who's due to be replaced.
Which makes a positive first impression easier, at least.
It also gives us something to calibrate our lowered expectations by. Daniel Descalso was pretty busy at his age—coming off a huge half-season at AA Springfield, he hit a disappointing .282/.350/.421 in a full year at AAA Memphis and proceeded to ruin huge Springfield half-seasons for future Cardinals prospects forevermore.
If you're a Diaz skeptic, though, read it this way: That's what it took for Daniel Descalso to hit .243/.310/.346 over three seasons in the major leagues.
If Aledmys Diaz hits .323 or slugs .510 over half a year in the high minors I will overreact just like I did when Daniel Descalso did it. But while we're fitting him for his fatigues, I'll try to remember that a .771 OPS in Memphis was league average in the PCL in 2010. There's a lot Aledmys Diaz has to do to catch up to where Daniel Descalso was at 23.