All posts by Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.

Cardinals Trade Jedd Gyorko for Apparent Roster and Salary Relief

photo: Jedd Gyorko (USA TODAY Sports Images)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced this afternoon (Wednesday, July 31) that they have completed a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, acquiring left-handed pitcher Tony Cingrani and minor league right-handed pitcher Jeffry Abreu in exchange for infielder Jedd Gyorko, 2019/2020 International Cap Space and cash considerations.

Jedd Gyorko (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Cingrani, 30, is a veteran of seven-plus seasons in the majors with Cincinnati and the Dodgers.   He is currently on the 60-day Injured List (left shoulder surgery) and has not pitched this season.   The 6-4, 215-pound Cingrani owns a 12-22 career mark with a 4.01 ERA in 164 games pitched (61 starts), winning a career-high seven games for the Reds in 2013.

Abreu, 19, is a native of the Dominican Republic.   He’s 2-0 with a 4.66 ERA in six games pitched this season for the Arizona Rookie League Dodgers.  The 6-4, 200-pound Abreu was an International free-agent signing by the Dodgers in July of 2017.

Gyorko, 30, who joined the Cardinals in 2016, has been on the Injured List (back/right wrist) since June 8.   He appeared in 38 games for the Cardinals this season, batting .196 with 2 HR’s and 7 RBI.


Brian Walton’s take

By all indications, the Cardinals did not make the necessary moves to shore up their pitching staff before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

Mozeliak’s full remarks are here:

Further, unless you subscribe to the view that Yairo Muñoz and/or Tommy Edman will be more valuable to the Cardinals than Gyorko for the remainder of this season, the trade appears to be a cost-saving and 40-man roster-saving move only.

Instead of heading out on a minor league rehab, Gyorko was moved to the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday with his 40-man roster spot used on reliever Adalberto Mejia, who was claimed off waivers. However, adding also-injured Cingrani in return is a roster wash.

While the exact dollar amounts moving from the Cardinals to the Dodgers are unknown, we do know that Gyorko makes over $10 million more in salary this season than does Cingrani. (Of course, what remains are pro-rated amounts, roughly one-third by my estimation.)

Cingrani’s 2019 salary is $2.65 million, in his final arbitration year prior to free agency. He will miss the rest of season with a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder, so seems unlikely to ever appear in a game with St. Louis.

In the final guaranteed year of his six-year contract signed with San Diego in 2014, Gyorko is being paid $13 million this season, part of which is paid by the Padres. His contract also includes a $13 million club option for next season or a $1 million buyout. The latter will almost certainly be exercised.

Likely the international cap money and the cash going with Gyorko is intended to offset some or all of the remaining salary difference between the two traded major leaguers. There may also be salary cap/luxury tax benefits to the Dodgers in the deal, though frankly, that is not of interest to me.

The Cards were allocated $6.4812 million (a hard cap) to spend internationally in the 2019-2020 period and have already signed 23 players. Apparently they still had excess pool space to trade.

The bottom line is that the Dodgers have a chance to get better in 2019 by adding Gyorko, while the Cardinals appear to have saved a bit of cash – and acquired an injured prospect who is years away from St. Louis – if he ever makes it.

Update

Fangraphs prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen reports on Abreu.

“New Cardinals prospect Jeffry Abreu (Gyorko deal) sits 89-92 with angle and cut, has an average slider. Big, 6-foot-4 19-year-old righty, likely reliever.”

Though no announcement has been made, the Gulf Coast League seems the most likely destination for Abreu. The GCL is the lowest rung of the seven US-based stops in the Cardinals minor league system. (Update: This assignment is confirmed.)

In closing, with no new addition to St. Louis’ rotation, it seems any depth help will have to come from within. As the calendar is flipped to the final month of the minor league season, neither Alex Reyes nor Austin Gomber is yet able to pitch in games, leaving Genesis Cabrera and Ryan Helsley as the only active 40-man roster hopes currently. The latter is working back from his own injury problem (shoulder) and seems slated to remain in a long relief role – “starting” games, but only throwing about 50 pitches per outing.


Additional roster move


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Johan Oviedo Emerging at Double-A


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Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

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Cardinals Claim Reliever Adalberto Mejia from the Angels

photo: Adalberto Mejia (Richard Mackson/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Tuesday, July 30) that they have recalled rookie outfielder Lane Thomas from Memphis (AAA), taking the 25-man roster spot of outfielder Harrison Bader who was optioned to Memphis yesterday.  The team also announced that outfielder Marcell Ozuna will begin an injury rehabilitation assignment with Memphis tonight.

In addition, the Cardinals announced that they have claimed left-handed reliever Adalberto Mejía from the Los Angeles Angels and that he will be added to the team’s 25-man roster upon reporting.   Mejía, 26, owns a 6-9 career mark with a 4.55 ERA in 44 games (25 starts) with Minnesota (2016-19) and the Angels (2019).   The 6-3, 195-pound Dominican Republic native has appeared in a combined 17 games this season with the Twins (15.1 IP) and Halos (4.1 IP), going 0-2, 7.32 ERA and three Holds while fanning 21.  He worked 3.0 scoreless innings last Thursday (July 25) vs. Baltimore and limited Oakland to just one run in 3.1 innings pitched on July 2.  Mejia, originally signed by the San Francisco Giants as an international free agent in February of 2011, is 49-33 with a 3.23 ERA in 143 career games (120 starts) in the minor leagues.

The Cardinals have transferred infielder Jedd Gyorko (right wrist/back strain) to the 60-day Injured List to make room for Mejía on the team’s 40-man Major League roster.

Thomas, 23, is being recalled for the fourth time this season.   The right-handed hitting outfielder has appeared in 11 games with the Cardinals in three prior stints, batting .308 (4-for-13) with a home run and 4 RBI.  Thomas’ prior Major League tours this season included April 17-25, May 22-27 and June 29-July 3.

In 75 games with Memphis this season, Thomas is batting .268 (71-for-265) with 10 HR’s, 44 RBI and 11 stolen bases.   He had a three-homer game this past Saturday (July 27) at Oklahoma City, and is batting .347 (26-for-75) with 6 HR & 19 RBI in 20 July games.

Ozuna, out since suffering finger fractures to his right hand on June 28, has missed 25 games while on the Injured List.   Ozuna was producing at an All-Star level at the time of his injury, batting .259 with a then team-high 20 HR and 62 RBI in 78 games.  His RBI total still leads the team.

Thomas wears uniform no. 35.


Brian Walton’s take

This release formalizes the news on Bader and Thomas, moves which were disclosed on Monday.

Cardinals Option Out Bader, to Add Thomas

The new news is the addition of Mejia, who adds an interesting option in left-handed relief. I guess if the Cardinals cannot acquire a new fifth starter, Mejia could be tried in the spot from which both Michael Wacha and Daniel Ponce de Leon have struggled. Obviously, many Cardinals fans are hoping the team is aiming higher.

Mejia, who was once traded for Eduardo Nunez, had been with the Angels only very briefly, having joined them via a waiver claim from the Twins, just 10 days ago – on July 20. This season, he has career highs in both strikeout rate (9.6 per nine innings) and walks (a very concerning 5.9 per nine).

Adalberto Mejia

The player to be sent down to Memphis to make room for Mejia will likely be disclosed when he is officially activated. One would guess that Tyler Webb may be the player sent packing.

Mejia is the second lefty added by the Cardinals in two days, following Monday’s acquisition of minor league reliever Zac Rosscup from the Dodgers for cash considerations.

Cardinals Acquire Minors Lefty Zac Rosscup


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Elehuris Montero is Back and Making up for Lost Time


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Minor League Notebook – July 30, 2019

photo: Colin Schmid (Allison Rhoades/Peoria Chiefs)

The St. Louis Cardinals system went 2-3 in Monday’s short schedule. Peoria won behind Player of the Day Colin Schmid’s seven scoreless innings. Springfield came back multiple times with a trio of home runs, but lost in the 10th inning.

Results from games played Monday, July 29th.


Memphis off

The Triple-A Redbirds (45-62) entered Monday’s day off in a third/last-place tie with Nashville (TEX), trailing Iowa (CHC) by 12 games in the American Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League standings.

Tuesday’s game:  vs. Albuquerque, 6:35 pm CT, Harold Arauz (6-2, 6.15)


Corpus Christi 7 at Springfield 6 (10 innings)

The S-Cards yielded an early lead, but pulled even twice, the last time on a dramatic two-run eighth-inning home run by Elehuris Montero before losing in the 10th in the rain-delayed contest, 7-6.

Springfield starter Tommy Parsons continued with his long-ball troubles, yielding five home runs and six total runs in 5 2/3 innings. Will Latcham, Jacob Patterson and Ronnie Williams combined for 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief before Bryan Dobzanski held the Hooks off the board in the ninth. However, he yielded a double in the 10th to score the runner placed at second and the Springfield offense was unable to answer.

Cardinals hitters fanned 14 times, went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10. Dylan Carlson was punched out three times, but also launched his league-leading 18th home run, scoring a pair. Justin Toerner reached base four times, on a solo home run, a single and two walks. The right fielder crossed home plate three times.

St. Louis third baseman Matt Carpenter went 0-for-3 with a walk to remain hitless on his two-stop rehab stint, which is now up to 16 at-bats over five games.

Tuesday’s game:  vs. Corpus Christi (HOU), 6:30 pm CT, Evan Kruczynski (2-6, 6.05)


Palm Beach off

The Beach Birds (13-26) headed into Monday’s off day in sixth and last place in the Florida State League South Division standings, 15 games behind Charlotte (TB).

Tuesday’s game:  at St. Lucie (NYM), 6:30 pm ET, TBA


Peoria 3, Burlington 0

Colin Schmid (Peoria Chiefs)

Peoria had great pitching and enough offense to shut out the Bees at Dozer Park, 3-0. The Chiefs improved to 10-26 in the second half and have won four of their last six while taking their first two series since the break.

The Chiefs got on the board in the first, as two leadoff walks were cashed in. RBIs were earned by Brady Whalen via a sac fly and via Imeldo Diaz’ double. A free pass and a single opened the fifth before Brendan Donovan scored on a missed catch error.

Player of the Day Colin Schmid was great. The starter tossed seven scoreless innings on just four singles and two walks with seven strikeouts. Allowing three baserunners but no runs over the final two innings, Leonardo Taveras picked up his first save.

The Peoria offense prevailed despite going 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranding 10. Second baseman Donovan reached base three times, with a double, triple and a walk and the number three hitter scored twice, though he also committed an error.  Catcher Alexis Wilson singled twice.

Tuesday’s game:  vs. Burlington (LAA), 6:35 pm CT, Michael Brettell (3-7, 5.18)


State College off

Coming into Monday’s off day, State College (22-21) was tied for third place with Mahoning Valley (CLE), three games in back of Batavia (MIA) and a game behind West Virginia (PIT) in the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League.

Tuesday’s game:  at Vermont (OAK), 7:05 pm ET, Junior Gonzalez (2-2, 6.46)


Johnson City off

Coming off three-game series sweep of Greeneville, Johnson City (21-17) was tied for first with Elizabethton (MIN) in the Appalachian League’s West Division standings.

Tuesday’s game:  at Princeton (TB), 6:30 pm ET, Michael YaSenka (1-1, 0.68)


GCL Nationals 6, Cardinals 3

Patrick Romeri (IMG Academy)

The Gulf Coast League Cardinals (12-18) found themselves in a 6-0 hole after two innings and fell at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to the Nationals on Monday, 6-3.

The first official mound appearance in the 13-month career of 2018 fourth-round draft pick Steven Gingery was very brief. The right-hander faced just four batters, with a strikeout, pop out, single and a walk on his ledger. With reliever Thomas Hart on the mound, an RBI single put a run up for the Nats and against Gingery, saddling the starter with the eventual loss.

Former outfielder Blake Drake couldn’t get an out in the second and was pulled with three already in and the bases loaded. Tyler Statler immediately issued two free passes, plating two runs charged to Drake.

Though the Cards outhit the home club 11-8, they couldn’t string them together and anxiously fanned 12 times. Outfielder Patrick Romeri led the offense with all three RBI, including a fourth-inning home run with a runner aboard and a run-scoring single in the ninth.

Tuesday’s game:  at Mets, 12:00 pm ET, TBA


DSL Nationals 5 at Cardinals Blue 3

In a scoreless duel through four, the visiting Nationals plated five runs in the fifth and sixth. The Blue brought in three in a ninth-inning comeback attempt, but fell short.

Blue starter Reinys Portillo (L, 2-4, 3.63) allowed just two hits through 4 2/3 innings, but walked five and was charged with three runs, all earned. The second hit, a two-run homer, sent Portillo to the showers. Juan Peralta followed and yielded the final two runs in the sixth. Americo Lugo fanned three and walked a batter in an otherwise perfect two-inning outing.

The Blue outhit their opponents 9-5, but went 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight. Outfielder Gustavo A. Rodriguez singled, doubled and scored, as the only Cardinal who hit for extra bases. First baseman Fernando Diaz singled twice, drove in one and scored another. Leadoff man and second baseman Elvin DeJesus singled, stole his ninth base of the season and collected the other RBI.

Tuesday’s game:  vs. Mets1, 10:30 am ET, TBA


DSL Cardinals Red 3, Phillies White 2

Luis Andujar’s sacrifice fly, scoring Sander Mora (who reached via a walk) broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth and provided the Cardinals Red their one-run margin of victory over the visiting Phillies White on Monday. The win broke an eight-game losing skid for the 18-31 Red.

After falling behind 1-0 in the second, the Red captured the lead with single runs in the third and fourth, but the Phils answered in the fifth with a run against reliever Miguel Yedis to knot the score. Starter Hancel Rincon yielded just two hits in the first four innings, but also issued four free passes and threw a wild pitch. Worse, the Phils ran often against Cardinals catcher Jesus Orecchia, with five steals, three while Rincon was in, and two more with Yedis on the mound. Orecchia also nailed two other Phils trying to steal.

17-year old reliever Brayan Ramirez collected the win, his first as a professional, after pitching two scoreless innings on a hit, a walk and a strikeout.

Despite just five hits, the Red offense drew seven free passes. DH Erick Thomas reached base three times with a pair of singles and a walk. He drove in one, as did shortstop Bryan Matute (double). The Red had trouble on the bases as Mora and Thomas were caught stealing and Matute was picked off.

Tuesday’s game:  at Phillies White, 10:30 am ET, TBA


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Offer Prospect Catching Duo Promotions


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Option Out Bader, to Add Thomas

photo: Harrison Bader (Jim Cowsert/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals optioned center fielder Harrison Bader to Triple-A Memphis on Monday and he will be replaced by Lane Thomas on Tuesday, Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch reports.

The move with Bader, 25, was expected no sooner than when Marcell Ozuna comes off the injured list perhaps in a week or so, but instead, the team decided to make the move even more quickly.

Harrison Bader

This season, over 260 plate appearances, Bader has slashed a disappointing .195/.309/.339/.648, albeit with his Gold Glove-caliber defense. His strikeout rate this season is 28.1 percent, comparable to 2017 and 2018, though his walk rate is up to 11.2 percent from 7.3 percent last season.

It will be interesting to see if the Cardinals give Thomas regular time in the outfield – at least until Ozuna returns. In his prior 11-game look with St. Louis, the 23-year old was primarily a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement. Though Thomas can play center well, he was used in left recently in Memphis, as Randy Arozarena was being tested there.

Lane Thomas

Through 304 plate appearances in 75 games with Memphis this season, Thomas has posted a .268/.352/.460/.812 slash line. He has been especially hot recently, going 6-for-12 with two walks in the Oklahoma City series, including four home runs and eight RBI. The right-handed hitter’s strikeout rate remains high at 26.3 percent while his walk rate has doubled this season to 10.5 percent.


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Offer Prospect Catching Duo Promotions


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Acquire Minors Lefty Zac Rosscup

photo: Zac Rosscup (Jennifer Buchanan/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired left-handed relief pitcher Zac Rosscup from the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash considerations. The 31-year old had been designated for assignment on July 15 and cleared waivers on July 20, so is no longer a 40-man roster player. He has been assigned to Triple-A Memphis.

(Note: This is a change from the initial article, as the Cardinals official team roster page initially placed Rosscup on the team’s 40-man roster. We picked it up, not knowing it was in error. Apologies for amplifying the mistake.)

Zac Rosscup (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

Since 2013 when he came up with the Cubs, he has a 5.16 ERA in 83 2/3 career MLB innings.  Rosscup has lifetime a strikeout rate of 12.2 per nine innings, but walks a troubling 5.9 per nine.

This season, Rosscup has already appeared with Seattle, Toronto and the Dodgers (for a second time), logging a 5.00 ERA while walking more than one batter per inning (9.5 per nine). The Mariners waived him in May, when he was claimed by the Jays. He became a free agent in June and signed with the Dodgers shortly after.

Rosscup also pitched for the Rockies in 2017 and was in their system before the Dodgers claimed him in July 2018. They released him last winter, when he was signed by the Mariners as a free agent. In other words, Rosscup is well-traveled.

At Memphis, Rosscup essentially replaces veteran lefty reliever Tommy Layne, who had been assigned to the Triple-A Redbirds until his July 3 release. He joins two other MLB veterans, Chasen Shreve and Hunter Cervenka, as left-handers in the Memphis bullpen.


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Offer Prospect Catching Duo Promotions


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Palm Beach Cardinals Pitcher Perry DellaValle Suspended

photo: Perry DellaValle (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

MLB Press Release

Perry DellaValle (Palm Beach Cardinals)

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that two Minor League players have been suspended following their violations of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League pitcher Perry DellaValle, who is currently on the roster of the Single-A Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, has received a 50-game suspension following a second positive test for a drug of abuse in violation of the Program.

Free agent Minor League pitcher Ricardo Frias has received a 72-game suspension after testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Program. The suspension of Frias will be effective immediately upon his signing with another Major League organization.


Brian Walton’s take

DellaValle, 23, has made 19 starts and one relief appearance for the Beach Birds this season, throwing a team-high 106 1/3 innings. Despite a 3.22 ERA and WHIP of 1.14, DellaValle has a losing record at 5-6, primarily due to poor run support. The Florida State League All-Star was ranked 50th on The Cardinal Nation Top 50 Prospect List this month.

DellaValle is the 41st Cardinal farmhand suspended due to program violations since 2005. He is the first caught during the calendar year 2019. Four Cardinals were suspended during 2018, with the most recent, DellaValle’s teammate, pitcher Griffin Roberts, having already served his time.

This suspension will continue approximately two weeks into the 2020 regular season.


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Memphis Redbirds Notebook – 2019 Week 16


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Activate Mayers, Cut Shreve, Send Carpenter on Rehab

photo: Mike Mayers (Memphis Redbirds)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Tuesday, July 23) that they have activated right-handed reliever Mike Mayers (right shoulder lat strain) from the 60-day Injured List and designated left-handed reliever Chasen Shreve for assignment.   The team also announced that infielder Matt Carpenter (right foot contusion) will begin an injury rehabilitation assignment tonight with the Memphis Redbirds (AAA).

Mayers, 27, appeared in eight games for the Cardinals to open the season, going 0-1 with eight strikeouts in 8.1 innings pitched.  He was placed on the Injured List on April 16 and has missed 83 games.  Mayers, who began an injury rehabilitation assignment on June 26, appeared in 10 games for Memphis, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 games (10.0 IP).  The 6-2, 220-pound Ohio native owns a 3-3 career mark with a 6.94 ERA in 65 games (70.0 IP).

Mike Mayers

Carpenter injured his foot during the 7th inning on July 15 when he fouled off a pitch and was placed on the 10-day I.L. the following day.  He’s been on the Injured List twice this month (also July 2-10 with a lower back strain).

Matt Carpenter

Shreve, who was credited with the win in last night’s 10-inning win, has appeared in three games since having his contract purchased from Memphis on July 11.

Chasen Shreve

Mayers wears uniform no. 59.


Brian Walton’s take

As this is Shreve’s second removal from the 40-man roster, unless he is traded or claimed by another organization off outright waivers, he will receive the right to become a free agent, now or at the conclusion of the season.

Though Shreve would forfeit the remainder of his $900,000 contract for this season by declaring free agency, he may prefer to do so rather than return to Memphis, looking for a chance to re-boot his career with another organization. Shreve would probably find another (Triple-A) home very soon.

If claimed, however, that organization would have to place Shreve on its 40-man and assume the remainder of his contract for 2019. This is less likely, but certainly not impossible, as left-handers seem to have (at least) nine lives. (It is worth noting that Shreve went unclaimed in March, though, and has not distinguished himself in the interim.)

Mayers’ rehab was unusually long, almost the entire 30-day limit, perhaps because the organization had a full 40-man roster and needed to open a spot to bring him off the 60-day IL. Shreve obliged (though obviously against his will). Still, Mayers was brought back three days earlier than planned due to the recent stretch of short starts having put a heavy workload on the bullpen.

Carpenter, mired in a season-long slump, is scheduled to play Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for Memphis and be activated by St. Louis for the upcoming home stand that begins on Friday. In his absence, reserves Tommy Edman and Yairo Muñoz have played well, perhaps creating a bit of a roster dilemma for the Cardinals ahead.


Minor league news – Schrock returns

Along with Carpenter, Memphis received another infielder on Tuesday as Max Schrock was activated off the Redbirds’ seven-day injured list. In his third IL stint of the season, the 24-year old had been out since July 5. Schrock has missed a total of 28 games in 2019, his second in the Cardinals organization, all with Memphis.
This season for the Redbirds, the left-handed hitter has slashed .252/.350/.346/.696 in 159 at-bats over 51 games.

Max Schrock


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Memphis’ 2019 Issues Begin with Pitching


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Dominican Cardinals Duo Rewarded

The St. Louis Cardinals have recognized two standouts from their Dominican Summer League clubs with in-season promotions to the US. Other system news from Monday, July 22 is also included.

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What has Happened to Memphis in 2019?

Brian Walton dives into transaction levels and promotions over multiple seasons before locking onto injuries as a significant factor in the decline of the two-time defending Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds in 2019.

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Cardinals Add Ravelo and Webb, Send Leone and Helsley Out

photo: Tyler Webb (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Sunday, July 21) they have recalled INF Rangel Ravelo (rahn-HEL) and LHP Tyler Webb from Memphis (AAA) and have optioned RHP Ryan Helsley and RHP Dominic Leone to Memphis (AAA) following Saturday night’s game in Cincinnati.

Ravelo, 27, is being recalled for the third time to St. Louis and has appeared in six Major League games, earning his first hit against Miami on June 19.  The rookie infielder had played in 838 career minor league games before his contract was originally purchased on June 17.

In 77 games this season at Memphis, Ravelo was batting .313 with nine home runs and 43 RBI, earning him a spot on the Triple-A All-Star team.  Ravelo was recently optioned to Memphis and played in six games which he started four at third base after appearing the majority of his games at first base during the 2019 season.

Rangel Ravelo

Webb, who turned 29 yesterday, was optioned to Memphis on July 7 and is being recalled for the second time this season.  He has made 36 appearances out of the St. Louis bullpen posting an 0-1 record with a 4.45 ERA over 30.1 innings with 26 strikeouts.  Webb earned his first Major League save on June 22 vs. Los Angeles (AL) to close out a game in which incumbent closer Jordan Hicks left with an injury.  In five minor league appearances this season, Webb posted an 0-1 record and a 2.70 ERA.

Tyler Webb

Helsley made one appearance last night and threw 2.0 scoreless innings against Cincinnati.

Ryan Helsley

Leone, a Major League veteran of 217 appearances over six seasons, has made eight appearances posting a 4.70 ERA since his most recent recall to St. Louis.

Dominic Leone

Ravelo wears uniform No. 47 and Webb wears uniform No. 30.


Brian Walton’s take

It does not surprise me that the Cardinals wanted another arm in Webb, who becomes the third lefty in the pen. In his 5 1/3 innings since being sent down during the West Coast road trip, Webb allowed one run on five hits and no walks with three strikeouts with Memphis.

Helsley, The Cardinal Nation’s no. 5 prospect, will be back, but since he threw two innings Saturday night, the Cardinals are going with the more-rested Webb for the time being.

Leone has struggled and may not be back for a while. However, the one redeeming factor for these pitchers are that they are the only 40-man roster arms currently active. In other words, the Cardinals don’t have any more choices to add to the relief shuffle without making roster changes.

Ravelo returns St. Louis’ bench to four players after the Cardinals played Saturday with just three reserve hitters and nine relievers. He is either the second first baseman or the fifth outfielder, depending on where you count him. He will most often pinch hit and be a late game defensive replacement in the outfield.


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

State College Spikes Notebook – 2019 Week 5


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Add Pitching Depth in Ryan Helsley

photo: Ryan Helsley (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

Ryan Helsley (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Saturday, July 20) they have recalled RHP Ryan Helsley from Memphis (AAA) and optioned INF Edmundo Sosa to Memphis (AAA) following Friday night’s game in Cincinnati.

Edmundo Sosa (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Helsley, who turned 25 years-old on Thursday, is being recalled for the fifth time this season and spent 13 days on the Major League Injured List with a right shoulder impingement from June 13-26.  The hard-throwing right-handed made seven relief appearances in St. Louis with no record and a 3.48 ERA striking out 12 in 10.1 innings with an 0.97 WHIP.   In 15 appearances at Memphis this season, Helsley was 2-3 with a 5.06 ERA covering 32.0 innings making five starts with one save.

Sosa, 23, played in three games since his recall on July 16 and recorded his first Major League hit on Thursday night in Cincinnati.

Helsley will join the Cardinals for tonight’s game in Cincinnati and wears uniform No. 56.


Brian Walton’s take

With the bullpen stretched after the 12-11 win Friday, it was not surprising for the Cardinals to add the most rested 40-man roster pitcher available. It was an easy decision, as Helsley was just one of two active choices.

I outlined the situation Friday night and Saturday morning on Twitter, as Helsley had been Memphis’ scheduled starter Saturday night.

Going with another pitcher creates a roster imbalance of 14 pitchers and 11 position players for St. Louis, a situation that will likely not be maintained long. The return of Matt Carpenter from the injured list may be that next step, with a pitcher going back to Memphis at that time.


Kodi Whitley (St. Louis Cardinals)

Update – Whitley follows

To replace Helsley on the Memphis roster, Kodi Whitley was called up from Springfield and will be making his Triple-A debut. In 31 games at Double-A this season, Whitley posted a 1.83 ERA in 39 1/3 innings over 31 relief appearances and converted seven of nine save chances. The 24-year old struck out 10.5 batters per nine innings and walked 3.0 per nine.

Seth Elledge is starting Saturday night for the Redbirds in place of Helsley in what has become a bullpen game.


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

State College Spikes Notebook – 2019 Week 5


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Average Cost to Attend Cardinals Game Down Slightly in 2019

photo: Getty Images

As the St. Louis Cardinals passed two million in home attendance again during the last homestand, it seems a good time to re-visit the annual Fan Cost Index (FCI)*, which compares the price for a family of four to attend a Major League Baseball game across the 30 franchises. The data is compiled and published by Team Marketing Report, with the 2019 version released in March.

While the St. Louis Cardinals had ranged between the 10th and 15th-highest payroll in the game since moving into Busch Stadium III in 2006, they crept back into the top 10 in 2019 for the first time since 2005. Correspondingly, the cost to a family to attend a Cardinals game has consistently ranked in the top 10 compared to their MLB peers.

For 2019, St. Louis fans pay the ninth-most across MLB to see the team with the ninth-highest player payroll as the season opened. This is the first time since 2004 that the Cardinals’ ranking in these two vastly-different measures are the same.

Adam Wainwright and Busch Stadium fans (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals’ 2019 FCI of $254.46 represents decline of 1.0 percent compared to last year. It breaks the team’s nine-year streak of annual increases and is only the second decrease in the 17 years that I have been tracking it.

This 1.0 percent FCI decline for 2019 basically reverses the 0.9 percent increase last year and is the only decline for St. Louis since a 1.2 percent slide in 2009.

St. Louis looks even better this year when considering the average FCI increase of 1.8 percent across MLB.

In the table below, comparative data is presented back to 2003. First is the Cardinals Opening Day player payroll and rank of 30. Next is St. Louis’ FCI, change from prior year and rank. Next are the FCI averages across MLB. At the far right are the most and least expensive teams in FCI.

StL
Open
Payroll MLB MLB MLB
Year ($ MM) Rk StL FCI YTY Rk avg FCI YTY #1 FCI Tm #30 FCI Tm
2019 165.3 9 $254.46 -1.0% 9 $234.38 1.8% $370.12 ChC $142.42 Ari
2018 146.9 13 $257.16 0.9% 8 $230.64 2.4% $368.28 ChC $145.58 Ari
2017 131.7 15 $254.96 4.5% 5 $225.34 2.7% $368.44 Bos $136.62 Ari
2016 123.1 14 $243.96 3.0% 6 $219.54 3.7% $360.66 Bos $132.10 Ari
2015 120.3 12 $236.81 3.5% 6 $211.68 2.5% $350.86 Bos $126.89 Ari
2014 112.3 10 $233.86 1.3% 6 $212.46 2.3% $350.78 Bos $126.89 Ari
2013 112.3 11 $230.94 2.7% 9 $210.46 1.2% $336.99 Bos $151.55 Ari
2012 105.4 10 $224.76 0.7% 9 $207.68 2.4% $336.99 Bos $145.94 Ari
2011 105.4 12 $223.18 3.1% 8 $197.35 2.0% $339.01 Bos $120.96 Ari
2010 93.5 12 $216.56 0.9% 9 $194.98 -0.7% $334.78 Bos $115.24 Ari
2009 88.5 13 $214.72 -1.2% 10 $196.89 3.2% $410.88 NYY $114.24 Ari
2008 99.6 11 $217.28 3.8% 7 $191.75 8.3% $320.71 Bos $136.91 TB
Busch III 2007 90.3 11 $209.23 0.8% 7 $176.55 3.8% $313.83 Bos $123.42 KC
Busch II 2006 88.9 11 $207.21 10.6% 4 $171.19 4.1% $287.84 Bos $120.35 KC
2005 92.1 5 $177.66 4.2% 9 $164.43 5.6% $276.34 Bos $119.85 KC
2004 83.2 9 $170.45 0.9% 9 $155.52 2.0% $263.09 Bos $108.83 Mon
2003 83.8 8 $164.04 6.6% 8 $148.66 3.3% $248.44 Bos $94.62 Mon

Note: The source of annual club season-opening player payrolls is USA TODAY.

For Cardinals general admission tickets, this year’s average price of $35.54 is the same as last season, but is approaching $6.00 higher than the team’s average ticket price of $29.78 when the new ballpark opened in 2006.

Across MLB, the average ticket price increase this year is 1.7 percent, to $32.99.

The Chicago Cubs rank first in MLB in average ticket price at $59.49 and lead in the FCI for the second consecutive season, at $370.12. The Cubs had unseated the long-time expense leader, the Boston Red Sox, a club that remains a close second in FCI.

AP/Richard Lui

As mentioned above, the average FCI across MLB of $234.38 represents a 1.8 percent increase over last year. The best value in the game is the $142.42 it takes for a family to see the Arizona Diamondbacks, lowest of the 30 teams for the 11th year in a row.

The other teams in the NL Central firmly reside in the lower third of MLB clubs in FCI: Milwaukee Brewers (22nd), Cincinnati Reds (23rd) and Pittsburgh Pirates (27th).

* The FCI, developed by Team Marketing Report, is made up of the prices of four adult average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car and two least expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.

2019 Gen. ticket Prem. ticket Beer Soft drink Hot dog Parking Cap FCI
St. Louis $35.54 $87.56 $5.00 $6.25 $5.00 $17.30 $20.00 $254.46
MLB avg. $32.99 $119.03 $5.97 $4.60 $4.95 $14.80 $18.74 $234.38

In these measurements, the Cardinals are above the MLB average in general seating ticket prices, soft drinks, hot dog (barely), parking and baseball cap prices but below average in premium seating and beer pricing.

Not every group of four would spend this much money, and of course, these are averages, not absolutes. However, the FCI provides a consistent point of comparison across the 30 teams over time.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Springfield Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 15


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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Up the Middle Defenders Rank in NL’s Top 10

photo: Kolten Wong, Harrison Bader, Paul DeJong (Brett Davis/Imagn)

Our eyes tell us that the 2019 St. Louis Cardinals have addressed a number of their defensive woes from recent seasons – and the metrics back up the perception. One big reason why is the steady play of the infielders up the middle – second baseman Kolten Wong, shortstop Paul DeJong and center fielder Harrison Bader.

This week, the trio were announced as being among the National League’s top 10 defenders during the first half of the 2019 season – not at their respective positions, but across the entire league. This is according to the SABR Defensive Index, or SDI, through July 7.

In its seventh year, the consolidated metrics-based view of player performance in the field will again account for 25 percent of the annual Gold Glove Award scoring, with further updates coming during the second half and at season’s end.

No measure is the be-all, end all, which is why actual voting by managers and coaches still make up the lion’s share of the Gold Glove scoring, 75 percent. But the SDI has a solid foundation, based on not one, but a group of defensive metrics. Though some discount any single-season’s worth of fielding results, those behind the SDI originally created and refined many of the measurements and devised the Index as a blended measure of multiple stats. (SDI background can be viewed here.)


The big picture

Paul DeJong (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

With SDIs of 8.2 and 8.0, respectively, DeJong and Wong are fourth and fifth among all defenders – both in the NL and across MLB. Bader’s SDI of 6.1 places him 10th overall in the Senior Circuit.

Despite the lofty individual ranking, DeJong is just second at his position, with Arizona shortstop Nick Ahmed, at 12.0, MLB’s top defender across all positions.

Wong has the top SDI at second base in MLB, with D.J. LeMahieu of the Yankees, the AL leader, next at 5.7. (As many readers may know, LeMahieu, then with Colorado, won the 2018 NL Gold Glove Award over Wong and also had the higher SDI.)

In center field, Bader leads the NL. Only Minnesota’s Byron Buxton at 7.6 has a higher SDI than Bader. Buxton is also the AL leader at all positions.


How all Cardinals fared

Now, let’s look at how St. Louis Cardinals front-liners fared at their respective positions in the first half release of the SDI for the 2019 season.

The NL leaders by position are listed to the left with Cardinals’ scores next. Click on the link just above to crawl through the individual player detail, if you would like. The “Trend” field indicates whether the player’s SDI is higher or lower compared to full-season 2018.

NL 1H 2019 Top SDI SDI Cardinals 1H 2019 SDI Rank Trend from 2018
Pitcher Max Fried 3.1 Miles Mikolas 2.0 4th of 70 up (8th, 1.3)
Jack Flaherty 0.8 18th of 70 not ranked
Adam Wainwright 0.3 T25th of 70 not ranked
Dakota Hudson 0.2 T29th of 70 not ranked
Michael Wacha -0.3 T47th of 70 not ranked
Catcher Austin Hedges 9.1 Yadier Molina 3.0 4th of 22 up (6th, 2.0)
First base Christian Walker 5.2 Paul Goldschmidt 1.4 6th of 18 up (8th, 1.6)
Second base Kolten Wong 8.0 Wong 1st of 16 up (2nd, 13.8)
Third base Nolan Arenado 7.8 Matt Carpenter -2.8 17th of 19 down (5th, 3.0)
Shortstop Nick Ahmed 12.0 Paul DeJong 8.2 2nd of 17 up (T3rd, 6.4)
Left field David Peralta 4.7 Marcell Ozuna -2.0 17th of 19 down (7th, 2.0)
Center field Harrison Bader 6.0 Bader 1st of 18 up (2nd, 7.6)
Right field Cody Bellinger 7.6 Dexter Fowler -1.2 9th of 15 not ranked
Jose Martinez -5.8 14th of 15 down (13th, 1B)

The Cardinals rankings show a clear delineation between a group of very good defenders and five who are not (at least according to the SDI).


Miles Mikolas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The haves

Miles Mikolas has improved his already-elite standing among NL pitchers and Jack Flaherty just made the top quarter in the league. Adam Wainwright and Dakota Hudson score respectably, ranking in the top half of the NL.

Along with the aforementioned three up the middle standouts, catcher Yadier Molina has both improved his raw SDI from 2018, and ranks in the top quarter of National League catchers – at age 37.

Paul Goldschmidt moved up to sixth among NL first basemen from eighth, though is SDI is slightly down.


The have nots

Five Cardinals have negative SDIs, and not surprisingly are among the worst at their respective positions in the first half.

Michael Wacha is in the bottom half of NL pitchers, as is Dexter Fowler among right fielders.

The bottom three Cardinals are not only really low-ranked in comparison to their peers, they also carry a lower individual SDI score compared to 2018.

Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna (Joe Puetz/Imagn)

Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna are each third from last at their respective positions. Both had positive scores and were ranked in the top half last season.

Jose Martinez is second-to-last among NL right-fielders with a -5.8 SDI, even worse than his -5.5 mark at first base last season.


In closing

In the year-to-year comparison, three of the nine Cardinals who had scores in 2018 came in with a lower SDI in the first half of 2019.

All six who improved their rankings compared to their peers also had higher SDIs this year, while Bader moved up from second to first among center fielders, but with a lower SDI.

In my view, the first-half drops of Carpenter and Ozuna are the most concerning, but neither’s ranking should be a major surprise. In right, Fowler and Martinez continue to be what they are – below average defenders.

The pitching scores and rankings are pretty good, in my opinion, with the only defensive laggard, Wacha, having already been removed from the rotation due to inconsistent and ineffective mound work.

It will be interesting to watch how these scores change during the second half, with updates usually in mid-August and again in mid-September. Final SDIs are not published until after the Gold Glove Award winners are disclosed in November.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

13 Cardinals Minor Leaguers in Tuesday’s Happenings


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Matt Carpenter Back on Cardinals Injured List

photo: Matt Carpenter (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Matt Carpenter (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s game (Tuesday, July 16), that they have placed infielder Matt Carpenter (right foot contusion) on the 10-day Injured List and recalled rookie infielder Edmundo Sosa from Memphis (AAA).

Carpenter injured his foot during the 7th inning of last night’s game when he fouled off a pitch.

Edmundo Sosa (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Sosa, 23, appeared in three games for the Cardinals last September (0-for-2), making his Major League debut on Sept. 23, 2018 as a pinch-hitter.  He played one inning in the field (2nd base) following his promotion last season.

The right-handed batting Sosa was batting .252 (78-for-309) with 10 home runs and 34 RBI in 83 games for Memphis this season, playing 49 games at shortstop, 17 at second base and 15 at third base.

The 6-0, 205-pound Sosa, a native of Panama, was signed by the Cardinals as an international free agent on July 2, 2012 and has been part of championship teams at both Memphis (2018) and Palm Beach (2017).

Carpenter becomes the seventh Cardinals player currently on the Injured List, along with regulars Yadier Molina and Marcell Ozuna.

Sosa wears uniform no. 63.


Brian Walton’s take

Carpenter, who is in a season-long slump, played in just four games after coming off the IL on Friday. He sat out eight games (June 29-July 11) due to a back problem.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, manager Mike Shildt expressed optimism about Carpenter’s return.

Though Sosa is the immediate roster replacement, primary playing time for Carpenter at third base is likely to be shared between Yairo Muñoz and Tommy Edman. The latter made the start on Tuesday night and is also in Carpenter’s leadoff position in the batting order.

Sosa, The Cardinal Nation’s 19th-ranked prospect, is a notorious hot and cold hitter. June was good, as 13 of his 31 hits went for extra bases, including five home runs. His OPS was .937. However, July is another story. He is just 7-for-46 with a slash line of .152/.170/.283/.453.

In 2019, the 23-year old is in his final minor league option season. With the emergence of Edman, joining the pre-arbitration Munoz as reserves behind long-term contract holders Carpenter, Kolten Wong and Paul DeJong, Sosa’s path to a full-time roster spot with St. Louis remains cloudy.


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2019 Week 15


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

 

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Throw out the Triple-A Stats – Ponce de Leon has earned a Rotation Shot

photo: Daniel Ponce de Leon (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

Filling in for injured starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (back spasms) Friday evening at Busch Stadium, Daniel Ponce de Leon gave the St. Louis Cardinals 6 2/3 innings of strong results. The 27-year old right-hander held Arizona to three hits, including a solo home run, walked none and fanned seven. 69 of his 107 pitches went for strikes.

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

This performance lowered his St. Louis ERA to 1.99 for the season, leading to fan calls for Ponce de Leon to remain in the rotation – if not for Wainwright, then to replace disappointing and inconsistent veteran Michael Wacha (5.54 ERA).

Earlier this season, when Wacha was pulled from the rotation for two starts, it was rookie lefty Genesis Cabrera who received the call instead. The 22-year old was clearly not ready and is now back at Memphis. Had they not been injured, Alex Reyes and Austin Gomber were considered by many to be ahead of Ponce de Leon in the rotation pecking order, as well.

So, why has Ponce de Leon been passed over?

I have a theory.

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Memphis Redbirds)

He simply wasn’t pitching as well at Memphis this season as in prior years, making the prospect of installing him in the rotation less appealing to the Cardinals.

Prevailing logic, backed up by plenty of data, suggests that a pitcher at the start of his MLB career will probably not perform as well in the majors initially as he did in Triple-A.

Ponce de Leon appears to be an exception.

For reasons that are unclear to me, he has been a much better pitcher as a major leaguer than he has shown while in Triple-A. Not only is his ERA lower, he has pitched as deeply into games while walking fewer batters.

Let’s look at some numbers that back this up.

Walks

In his 64 2/3 innings with St. Louis over 2018 and 2019, Ponce de Leon has a walk rate of 3.3 per nine innings – just ok.

For Memphis in 180 2/3 innings in 36 appearances, 35 starts since 2017, his walk rate is considerably worse, at 4.6 per nine. And the trend is not positive over time, with his 2019 mark for the Redbirds up to a concerning 4.9.

Innings per start

In his 11 starts with Memphis this season, “Ponce” threw a total of 55 1/3 innings for an average of just five innings per outing.

It is not new. Over his 35 career Triple-A starts, he secured an out in the seventh inning just once, in his final start last June before being called up to St. Louis.

Yet, Ponce de Leon has pitched into the seventh in two of his eight MLB starts over last season and this, including on Friday evening. In all fairness, though, he has averaged just five innings over his eight starts as a major leaguer, as well.

ERA

For the Redbirds, Ponce de Leon’s ERA increased substantially this year – to 3.90 in 2019 from 2.16 and 2.24 in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Over the three seasons, it is 2.74.

His two-year ERA with the Cardinals is 2.37, with a 2.73 mark last year and the 1.99 ERA in 2019. Now, there is a difference in that 23 2/3 of his innings with St. Louis have been as a reliever. However, coming out of the bullpen, Ponce de Leon’s 3.04 ERA pales in comparison to his 1.98 ERA over his eight starts as a Cardinal.

Conclusion

Throw the Triple-A stats out the window in this case. By now, Ponce de Leon has been given enough opportunity with St. Louis to demonstrate that he can be an effective major league starter.

Though Cardinals manager Mike Shildt was non-committal in his Friday post-game remarks, I agree with those who believe Ponce de Leon should continue in St. Louis’ rotation unless/until he proves he should not.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

State College Spikes Notebook – 2019 Week 4

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Pinder Packs Again

In an uncharacteristically quiet Friday across the St. Louis Cardinals system, the only transaction was the return of outfielder Chase Pinder to Palm Beach from Springfield.

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Cardinals Update with Miller and Condon – Out of the Break

photo: Taylor Sullivan/Viewfinder

On Friday morning, as the St. Louis Cardinals prepare to open the second half of their schedule with 14 of 20 games against National League Central Division opponents, I joined co-hosts Ken Miller and Trent Condon in the newest installment of our long-running series to discuss the St. Louis Cardinals in the Des Moines radio market and on the internet. The two anchor the Miller and Condon Show at KXnO Radio 1460, the home of the Cardinals in Central Iowa.

Our discussion included a review how the first half concluded, key requirements for the second half, possible trade focus, when Adam Wainwright may retire, Futures Game participants, how the division and wild cards may end up and more.

Follow @MillerAndCondon, @imKenMiller and @trentcondon on Twitter.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Memphis Redbirds Notebook – 2019 Week 14


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What is New? MLB All-Stars Rattle Strike Sabers

photo: Rob Manfred, KC mayor Sly James, Tony Clark (Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports)

At the mid-season break, this spring’s rumblings from disgruntled Major League Baseball players were back in the news, but nothing has really changed.

During spring training, players as deeply respected as 14-year MLB veteran Adam Wainwright and as young as second-year pitcher Jack Flaherty of the St. Louis Cardinals were among those who first spoke out with their concerns. At the All-Star Game, many other players continued.

Major Leaguers are as mad as hell over how they are being treated by owners and aren’t going to take it anymore. In February, a strike had been threatened – and soon.

OK, that isn’t what anyone said verbatim. That was a paraphrase of a monologue by the late Peter Finch as Howard Beale in the 1976 film Network, but it does reflect the genuine anger being expressed by players about a spectrum of matters related to pay – from the slow free agent market for veterans to service time manipulation and artificially slow growth of contracts of younger players.

Less-experienced players are becoming more and more important in today’s game. As teams evolve their player valuation models to recognize earlier contributions, some veterans are left behind – or at least have to lower their once-lofty contract expectations.


A bank run

Against this backdrop, a curious phenomenon occurred this spring. An unprecedented string of multi-year extensions signed by young MLB players evoked reminders of a bank run just before a financial collapse. Players were taking their money out as quickly as they could, apparently because of a lack of confidence in the system.

Since last winter, teams guaranteed players over $4 billion in new contracts. In the final week of spring training alone, teams doled out more than $1 billion to 10 players via contract extensions, including the game’s best player, Mike Trout, and Paul Goldschmidt, who signed a five-year deal before ever playing his first official game with his new club. Just one of the pre-free agent examples is Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, who secured a record $26 million as a fifth-year player.

In the midst of this stampede, anxious owners doled out deals for lesser veterans, as well, that just a few months later look ill-advised, such as the Cardinals’ extensions with over-30 players Matt Carpenter and Miles Mikolas.

Even with all this action, the ground is far from level across MLB. Just three teams carry a player payroll of over $200 million while eight teams are under $100 million, a reminder that the problems run deeper.

Back to Wainwright. Here is his exact quote, from February 15.

“Unless something changes, there’s going to be a strike, 100%,” Wainwright told St. Louis’ InsideSTL.com. “I’m just worried people are going to walk-out mid-season.”

That led to direct rebuttals from his team’s owner as well as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. As one would expect, Players’ Association head Tony Clark fired right back, claiming free agency was “under a two-year attack” – while his rank and file were avoiding the future open market by the dozens.


So, at mid-season, where are we?

Not much had been written on the matter once marquee free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado finally received their 10-year-plus, over $300 million contracts in March. (Neither of these so-called “generational talents” were among the 2019 MLB All-Stars, but that is a different story for a different day.)

Though neither Harper nor Machado were in Cleveland, 78 other players were recognized as regular or replacement All-Stars. While there, USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale decided to kick the hornet’s nest, and sure enough, many of the game’s best players are still buzzing. In fact, they may be louder than ever.

Though no All-Star quoted threatened a strike as specifically and as soon as did Wainwright five months earlier, several mentioned the possibility if progress is not made.

“As players, we don’t want a stoppage,” Boston designated hitter J.D. Martinez said. “And I’m sure the owners don’t want one either. But some things are going to have to get negotiated.”


Maintaining perspective

Many fail to remember that at the height of the spring round of rhetoric, Clark attempted to diffuse the imminent strike talk, saying that while he understood Wainwright’s perspective, MLB players will honor the current labor agreement.

Neither Clark nor Manfred were quoted in the new Nightengale article.

In mid-March, both sides pledged to start working on these economic matters, almost three years ahead of the December 2021 expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between players and owners.

In closing, Nightengale did note that “Executive director Tony Clark has had one preliminary meeting with Commissioner Rob Manfred, and they plan to meet formally again this summer.”

So, what is really new at mid-season 2019? As far as I can tell, absolutely nothing.

With 2 ½ years remaining, we are going to have to deal with more and more “negotiating” through the media until the day finally comes that a new agreement is struck.

It cannot come a day too soon for my already-weary eyes and ears.


For more

For those interested in further discussion and a number of links to related 2019 articles on this subject, check out the long-running “MLB labor unrest” thread at The Cardinal Nation’s free forum.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Springfield’s Angel Rondon Improves Pitching and Prospect Status


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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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Carpenter, Shreve and Knizner Rejoin Cardinals

photo: Matt Carpenter (Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Matt Carpenter (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Thursday, July 11) that they have activated infielder Matt Carpenter (lower back strain) from the 10-day Injured List, purchased the contract of left-handed pitcher Chasen Shreve from Memphis (AAA) and will recall rookie catcher Andrew Knizner from Memphis tomorrow when they open the season’s second half with a weekend series against Arizona.

Chasen Shreve (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The team also announced that catcher Yadier Molina (right thumb tendon strain) has been placed on the 10-day Injured List, retroactive to July 8, and have optioned left-handed pitched Tyler Webb and first baseman/outfielder Rangel Ravelo to Memphis.  The team also transferred pitcher Jordan Hicks from the 10-day Injured List to the 60-day Injured List to make room for Shreve on the team’s 40-man Major League roster.

Andrew Knizner (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Carpenter has been sidelined since June 29, last making a game appearance on June 28 as a pinch-hitter.  Molina pinch-hit on July 6, but hasn’t started a game since July 3.  He missed 12 games from May 29 to June 10 while on the Injured List with the right thumb strain.

Shreve, who turns 29 tomorrow, appeared in 20 games for the Cardinals last season after coming over in a three-player trade with the New York Yankees on July 28.   He went 1-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 14.2 innings pitched with St. Louis in 2018 and owns a career mark of 15-8, 3.66 ERA in 215 games pitched with Atlanta, the Yankees and St. Louis.

Shreve was 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in 37 games (42.2 IP) for Memphis this season, striking out 50 and walking just 19.   Since June 1, he’s posted a 1.72 ERA (15.2 IP) with 21 strikeouts and just three walks in 15 games for Memphis.

Knizner, 24, made his Major League debut on June 2, and appeared in two games (0-for-7) for the Cardinals during his earlier call-up (May 31 to June 10).

The right-handed hitting rookie is batting .277 (56-for-202) with 7 HR’s & 24 RBI in 53 games for Memphis, earning selection to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team.

Shreve wears uniform no. 40 and Knizner is no. 7.


Brian Walton’s take

Only the Webb and Carpenter moves were telegraphed, though it was clear that Molina’s ongoing hand injury had taken a turn for the worse when Matt Wieters started behind the plate in the final pre-break series in San Francisco. The rookie Knizner will back Wieters up until Molina’s return.

For the club to keep a second left-hander in the bullpen behind Andrew Miller, Shreve returns to the 40-man roster and the 25-man active roster after having been dropped from both earlier this season.

On the other hand, right-hander Mike Mayers remains in limbo, otherwise known as minor league rehab with Memphis. The team’s easy 60-day IL move of Hicks to clear a 40-man roster spot was used on Shreve, not Mayers.



The 27-year old rookie Ravelo’s story of perseverance continues back in Memphis with the return of Carpenter to the active roster. By remaining with St. Louis this long, Ravelo missed the Triple-A All-Star Game, but he likely isn’t complaining.

The major question heading forward is how much rookie standout Tommy Edman will get to play now that Carpenter is back. The veteran leadoff man has been in a deep slump that ran during the entire first half.

In fact, note how Carpenter’s career-worst 2019 stats were not included in the above release. In 326 plate appearances over 77 games, the 33-year old slashed .216/.325/.381/.706, for an OPS+ of 88, or 12 percent below MLB average. Carpenter has just 28 RBI this season, eighth on the Cardinals.

Jose Godoy (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

A legitimate question remains how much rope Carpenter will be given if his struggles continue in the second half – as his team languishes around .500 yet the division remains there for the taking.

As a result of these transactions, Memphis’ roster remains whole, with Knizner and Shreve replaced by Ravelo and Webb.

However, with the Redbirds down to just one catcher, Joe Hudson, and with a roster opening, they received backstop Jose Godoy from Springfield. The 24-year old was also with Memphis from May 31 to June 12, while Molina was on the IL previously and Knizner moved up. While down a player, the Double-A Cards have two catchers in Brian O’Keefe and recently-returned Chris Chinea.

While St. Louis does not begin post-break play until Friday, the Triple-A Redbirds open their (logical, not mathematical) second-half Thursday evening. So now, the rosters are set – for one day, at least.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ draft picks, the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Springfield’s Angel Rondon Improves Pitching and Prospect Status


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.