St. Louis Cardinals and Releasing: A Recurring Trend?

Joel KochSenior Analyst IAugust 3, 2008

The St. Louis Cardinals released Matt Clement on Saturday (8/2). Could this be a recurring theme for the Cardinals down the stretch.

I for one hope it is. The Cardinals have two players hogging payroll that don't provide for the team. They did have three, with the third being Chris Duncan, but he has a career threatening injury and I wish him the absolute best.

The first and foremost, as you can tell from the picture on this editorial, is Joel Pineiro. Pineiro, or as I like to call him "Joel Coughitup," has been horrific this season. He was the savior of the injury riddled Cardinals rotation in 2007. In 2008, he's been horrible.

In 2007, Pineiro was acquired at the Trade Deadline for a minor league player. He went 6-4 in 11 starts with a 3.94 ERA. Not half bad for a guy who was 15-24 with a 5.96 ERA in 70 games (55 starts) for the Mariners in 2005 and 2006.

Well, it looks like Pineiro has gone deaf towards Dave Duncan. In 18 starts in 2008, Pineiro has gone 3-5 with a 5.04 ERA. He has also coughed up FIVE TWO starts!

Is that even possible?

So, here is what the Cardinals need to do. He's obviously better than any other option right now. Jaime Garcia pitched well in his only start, but he's handling the second left handed relief spot since Randy Flores became allergic to quality innings.

Mitch Boggs pitched well in his first few starts, but in his last two, he made Pineiro look like Roy Halladay. Mike Parisi...well, let's not even discuss that one.

You have to leave him in the role as the fifth starter; however, as soon as Adam Wainwright is healthy, Pineiro is gone. You can't trade him with his value so low, and there's no way you can trust him out of the bullpen.

To activate Wainwright from the 15 day disabled list, the Cardinals will flat out release Pineiro. Put his name away in the file marked "Failed Experiments." His name will go behind Kip Wells, but in front of Matt Clement (Clement never pitched bad for the Cardinals like Wells and Pineiro).

Plus, this way, we can keep our suddenly strong bullpen together and no screw up any roles. We can also keep the suddenly valuable Brad Thompson in his role of long relief/mop up man.

Next on the list: Izturis.

Izturis has done a decent job on defense. He has nine errors at short, which isn't bad per say. His hitting, though, could make Wainwright look like Albert Pujols. In 89 games, Izturis is batting .232 and, get this, an on base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of .588. He has a .300 on base percentage (OBP). I don't care who you are, that's terrible.

I could over look his weak hitting if he was much better on defense. Let's say he was batting .250 with an OBP of around .350, and an OPS of around .650, I could over look it with his nine errors.

With nine errors and horrible hitting, I can't over look it.

The Cardinals need to release Izturis right now. File him in that "Failed Experiments" behind Pineiro. After releasing him, the Cardinals should activate Brian Barton. Follow that up with the demotion of Nick Stavinoha, and recall Rico Washington.

Why Washington? He can play third, left and right. He could also play second if needed. More importantly though, he gives the Cardinals a balanced bench. Barton, Joe Mather, Brendan Ryan, and Jason LaRue are all right handed. With a left handed bat, the Cardinals would have better options for pinch hitting late in the game.

With the release of Izturis, this also gets rid of the constant "he play, he play" in the middle infield. Aaron Miles can handle the everyday job at short, with Ryan as his backup. Adam Kennedy can finally have it his way and play everyday at second.

Now only would this help the offense, it can help the defense. Miles has two errors this season, both at second. Kennedy has five errors, all at second. That's seven errors up the middle.

With Izturis at short and Miles at second, the Cardinals would have 11 errors up the middle. An Izturis and Kennedy combo would have 14 errors up the middle. Much improved.

Plus, the Cardinal lineup would be improved:

LF - Skip Schumaker
RF - Ryan Ludwick
1B - Pujols
CF - Rick Ankiel
3B - Troy Glaus
 C - Yadier Molina
2B - Kennedy
SS - Miles

That has been the strongest lineup the Cardinals have put on the field, and with Izturis out of the mix, they can continue putting that on the field. With nine games against the Chicago Cubs and two games against the Milwaukee Brewers remaining, the Cardinals need a strong lineup.

The Cardinals also have the hardest two month stretch out of the three competing National League Central teams. The Cardinals have nine series (28 games) against the Cubs, Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Florida Marlins. That's five teams who are competing for a division title and a Wild Card berth.

If the Cardinals want to win, they need to dump Pineiro and Izturis. They hamper this team, and with this rough stretch coming up, the Cardinals need to field the best team possible.

I hope we can soon say: see ya later, you raging pieces of crap!