At the trade deadline, St. Louis Cardinals fans called for the addition of pitching (I was one). Now, the bullpen and rotation have finally shaped up.
The good news is, the pitching staff will get several big boosts. So, let's do a quick rundown on who Cardinals Nation will definitely see, who they might see, and who they won't see here in the season's final month.
The For Sures
Jason Motte RHP
The former catcher has certainly caught on as a pitcher. He's served as an interim closer for Class AAA Memphis, also as a setup man. Now? He's ticketed for the big club. He'll be a boost for a 92 miles per hour (MPH) bullpen with his 97 MPH gas. Throw in that Russ Springer is a free agent at the end of the season, Motte could be auditioning for a 2009 bullpen role.
Brendan Ryan IF
Ryan was optioned back down to Memphis to make room for Felipe Lopez, but was told he'd be back. He's played some outfield at Memphis, along with the infield, plus he's a bench player extraordinaire. He will provide a boost to the bench roles.
Nick Stavinoha OF
Well, Stavinoha isn't really a can't miss prospect, but he'll be another boost to the club. With his power, he could be a nice addition for late inning pinch hitting roles, though not preferred due to his strikeout prone swings. He can play left and right, or so they say, but will still be a boost never the less.
Randy Flores LHP
Flores has had his ups and downs, but it looks like he's figured things out at Memphis. If he can continue this success at the Majors, he'll spell Jaime Garcia from being the second lefty. Garcia would slot in as an innings eater.
Kelvin Jimenez RHP
He'll be up, no worries. Jimenez has had his ups and downs. He has his ups at Memphis and his downs at the Majors. Not really what you want, but again, an innings eater. Notice a trend? The more innings eaters the Cardinals have, the more rested the veteran bullpen arms are. Considering Kyle McClellan, Russ Springer, and Ryan Franklin are all over 50 appearances, Jimenez would be a sight for sore eyes.
Mitchell Boggs RHP
Another innings eater with starting experience, Boggs will slot into that bullpen and eat innings as well. He'l also be pitching for an extended look for 2009.
Mark Worrell RHP
Worrell is really a right handed specialist, which would be a great addition to the bullpen. He would allow for Springer to only come in with guys on base, and would spell Jason Isringhausen from pitching several innings early in games.
Bryan Anderson OR Mark Johnson C
Either one will come up. Neither are on the Cardinals 40 man roster, but a quick contract purchase would add them. Tony La Russa is a big believer in having three catchers in September, so one will get the nod. La Russa is also a big backer in the guys with experience, giving Johnson the edge.
However, the Cardinals front office have been big on giving the younger guys a shot. So, Anderson may get the nod ahead of Johnson. Plus, showcasing in September could add to his trade value, if the Cardinals feel like he could be a trading chip in the offseason. So, this debate will be interesting.
Colby Rasmus OF
Ok, so here's the biggest question: do you add Rasmus to the 40 man roster? If you add him in September, you're pretty much saying he WILL be in 2009 starting lineup (because his service time clock would start). On the other hand, he's coming off a knee injury. He was a lock to be added for September pre-injury, but now, who knows? Maybe they want him to play it out in the Arizona Fall League. As Asia once said, "Only time will tell."
Bryan Anderson C
See above for the debate on who's the third catcher.
Jess Todd RHP
Todd has SOARED through the system. He was drafted in June...of LAST year. He started the season at High Class A Palm Beach and pitched well (well enough for an All-Star selection, mind you), then was bumped to Class AA Springfield. He pitched well there again (ANOTHER All-Star selection...two!) and was selected for the XM Radio Futures Game.
Then comes Memphis. One start, all good. In his one start: 1.35 ERA (a solo home run) in 6 2/3 innings pitched. Only one word describes this kid: sick. Needless to say, I have found my new "man-crush" in Todd (formerly Chris Perez, until he became a mainstay at the Majors). He's a long shot, because of his service clock (not on 40 man roster) and may not be on the Major League club in 2009.
P.J. Walters RHP
The 2007 Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the Cardinals is another long shot. He's only 23 and has a good looking future in his horizon. The service time clock is a factor here, plus he's struggled in Memphis this season.
David Freese INF
Freese is a third baseman, which would severely limit is exposure at the Majors. Some have clamored for him to move to second base, but that's for another day. If Freese were to be added for September, he would certainly add some pop to the bench with his 24 home runs.
Tyler Greene INF
You remember Greene. He was the future starting shortstop for the Cardinals when he was drafted 30th overall in 2005. Bad hitting and injuries have since changed that outlook, but he's still a middle infielder with pop. He may get a look in September, as he'll certainly get one in Spring Training 2009.
The No Way Jose's
Brett Wallace INF
Wallace was just promoted to Springfield today (8/19), and won't jump to the Majors. He's certainly on the fast track to the Majors, since he has officially skipped Palm Beach, but he's still a little too young and baseball immature to be added for the stretch one. You don't want to start his clock this early, plus you don't want him overwhelmed with being on the big league roster a mere two months after he signed (signed July 1).
Allen Craig 1B/3B/OF
Craig has been tearing up Class AA pitching, but he's still too far away from the Majors. Though he would provide pop, he's too baseball immature to be added to the 40 man roster.
John Jay OF
Jay is an unbelievable talent. He's the future lead off man for the Cardinals and could turn Rick Ankiel or Ryan Ludwick into trade chips, but that's for another day at another time. Jay is injured at Memphis and will probably go to the AFL, if he goes anywhere.
Josh Phelps INF
Sure, he's putting up torrid numbers at Memphis, but the question really remains: who would you rather have? Freese is more versatile than Phelps, and puts up the same numbers. Plus, Freese is a prospect and Phelps is a Major League bouncer.
Well, there you have it folks. The reinforcements are on their way for the Cardinals to help make this playoff push a reality and not some far fetched thought. It should be a fun September and a great look into the crystal ball.
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