St. Louis Cards Bullpen from Worst to First

Gabe SimondsContributor IJune 3, 2009

One fact is right. The Cards bullpen was the worst last year, even worse than the Mets. We blew the most saves and somehow still won 86 games. Don't know how don't care, but this year is different. Way different in fact.

Ok, so our bullpen isn't the best in the MLB, but considering the money we paid (less than $5 million as a whole) and the free agents we signed (minimal), it might as well be. We have the shut-down closer, something clearly lacking last year. We have the innings-eater in Kyle McCllelan and he's also pitching in meaningful situations.

We have the young fire thrower in Jason Motte. We have two good left-handed specialists one of which has allowed just four hits to lefties. We have the perfect long-relief man who is expendable in Brad Thompson.

The last two are power armed righties who have spotty control. But I'm pretty sure many teams would love for them to be the two worst.

There are a few amazing things to consider: money and age. Trever Miller's contract is 500,000 this year with incentives for milestones of games he will reach. He will probably reach 65 games so his final payout would be 1.75 million dollars. Blaine Boyer is getting paid 423,000 dollars without incentives.

McCllellan's is at 410,000, Perez's at 402,000, Motte's at 400,000, and Dennys Reyes is at 1 million. Add all this together and you reach 4.39 million dollars. The average age is 28.9 years old which is relatively young for a bullpen. Franklin and Miller, both 36, are outliers however. Five guys are under 28 years old so this could be a good bullpen for the future as well.

Now what exactly has changed. A lot has changed actually. Ryan Franklin, first of all, is better than what Jason Isringhausen, Chris Perez, and himself. By a whole lot. Izzy inexplicably broke down with what I think was a mental relapse.

Perez was only 22 and apparantly Franklin didn't feel comfortable with Izzy still healthy on the team and yet Franklin still closed. Franklin has a 1.29 E.R.A., 13 saves and just one blown save.

We picked up two reliable left-handed specialists. Miller is a true specialist as he righties are batting .429 against him. Reyes is better at getting some righties out, but lefties are who he should face. Last year we had Randy Flores.

Reliable? No way. He had one good pitch, a slider, and a 88-90 fastball. Problem was he couldn't locate either and well you need to do that to be successful in majors.

Jason Motte came up in September last year and threw 11 brilliant scoreless innings. This year, with the exception of Opening Day, he has been the same. Now obviously Motte didn't pitch for the first five months of the year so that adds up to four "new pieces" to our bullpen.

Perez pitched parts of last season, but he might have been better last season than this season so it doesn't matter. Blaine Boyer has been inconsistent at times, but luckily we normally don't use him.

Lastly, Kyle McCllelan is talking up half the innings himself (not really). Last year, he was good, but he blew too many games because he was relied on way too much as a rookie.

This year, he is the same type of pitcher, but he's pitching better and he's blown one game, because of an error. He has pitched in really any type of game: tight game in eighth, blowout, multiple innings when started fails five.

This year I have five guys who I feel comfortable pitching. That is up from...0 in last year. No seriously, its been that different. We added a minor league piece, signed two left-handed specialists, luckily had a guy breakout as a closer, and kept what worked from last year. (Essentially just McClellan there).

Cardinal Game

I went to this game and it wasn't very fun to watch. From the outset you could tell Kyle Lohse was having trouble. Truthfully, it wasn't him. If you watched the other three pitchers who pitched, it was the Reds.

I say one pitcher pitches bad its the pitcher, two its merely a coincidence and both pitched bad, and more than three and its just one of those days. Lohse lasted just two+ innings. Blaine Boyer was able to pitch until the seventh.

Perez and Miller both ended the game. All four pitchers allowed multiple runs. Homers by Lance Nix (twice) and Brandon Phillips were the main runs. Brendan Ryan doubled home Pujols in the seventh but that was about it. Late rally in ninth wasn't really anything.

No. 25 Brian Barden
2008-Memphis- .285/9 homers/35 RBIs/21 doubles; St. Louis- .222 (9 at-bats)/0 homers/1 RBI
2009- STL- .237/4 homers/ 8 RBIs/3 doubles
Physical Features-5'11/195 lbs and 28 years old
Baseball Cube- Power- 73, Speed- 27, Contact- 44, Patience- 26
How Cards acquired him- claimed off waivers from Arizona in 2006
What 2009 Will Hold- He is currently the backup third basemen to Joe Thurston, who despite some errors, is playing great. He is the No. 3 option at short, and No. 4 option at second.

So as you can guess, the most playing time he's gotten is as a defensive replacement or as a pinch-hitter. He's hitting only .237 which is especially bad when Thurston's playing every day hitting doubles and doing all the little things. I see him getting sent down in the future when (if) Troy Glaus comes back or earlier.


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