Well no, not Bland, but Charlie Manning! Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinal claimed the left handed Charlie Manning off of waivers from the Washington Nationals. The 29 year old (to be 30 as of Opening Day) had a fine rookie season for the Nationals, and will certainly appreciate the tutelage of Card's pitching coach, Dave Duncan, who has made more out of less then what he is being given in Manning.
Charlie Manning is described as a 'finesse lefty' and fits that description perfectly averaging 87.3mph on his fastball which he uses less then 50% of the time. Interesting velocity comparisons here are Mark Buehrle and Ted Lilly, both of whom, Manning is not, but if anyone can get him close to those two, my money would be on Duncan.
However, a starting pitcher isn't how the Cardinals intend to utilize Manning, which is obvious, considering that Manning hasn't consistently started since 2003 in high A ball. The Cardinals will instead utilize Manning out of the bullpen, in a role they struggled to fill with a quality reliever last season. That is, as a left handed reliever.
Manning will join Randy Flores, Jamie Garcia, and if re-signed, Ron Villone, as possible lefties out of the Cardinals bullpen in 2009. Given that Manning's first shot at the big league level was essentially as good as any of the other relievers, he has as good of a shot as anyone at being the LOOGY (left handed one out guy) for the Cardinals next season.
Given that LOOGY's are a fairly hot commodity and would cost upwards of $3M in the free agent market, this acquisition is certainly a solid one by the Cardinals front office. The cost for the club is very minimal, while Manning's strong strikeout rate in recent years makes him a good bet to have a fair amount of value for the Card's in 2009, or at least giving them another option if Villone does not resign, and Flores and Garcia do not prove to have turned things around.
Charlie Manning is TheOLIB's first Under the Radar acquisition for the 2009 Hot Stove League.