Learning from past Cardinals minor league spring transaction dates

The other day, I looked at last year’s major league spring training transactions by the St. Louis Cardinals as a method of suggesting a rough time frame when similar moves might occur in 2011.

While there is less apparent action within minor league camp compared to the reassignment of players there from major league camp, there is plenty of churn still. Rosters are purposely written in pencil and players are shuttled between minor league games as needed. Some are even called back to help fill in during major league games.

Still, there are a couple of inflection points each spring when groups of minor league player releases occurred previously. With roughly half the camp games of the major leaguers, the minor league instructors and coaches have to make their decisions relatively quickly.

For example, in 2010, the Cardinals had 30 spring games, while the minor leaguers had 18 days of games in camp, including intrasquad contests every third day. This is due to the schedule imbalance created by the fact that only the Mets and Marlins are within a two hour drive of Cardinals camp in Jupiter, Fla.

Last spring, the Cardinals announced their big groups of player releases on March 23 and 26, at spring games seven and ten, respectively. A total of 17 players were given their release. After at least a week of games, the coaches can determine which players are not competitive enough to either make one of the four full-season rosters or remain behind for extended spring training camp.

In 2009, the organization also released two waves of players on the 23rd and 26th, but added a third group on March 31, as well. 21 players became ex-Cardinals through those moves.

These spring releases have been especially focused on clearing out the pitching ranks. 28 of these 38 releases during the last two camps were hurlers.

Even so, a large quantity of pitchers remain. In recent seasons, the Cardinals have begun the regular season at Palm Beach and Quad Cities using the tandem or piggy-back rotation. In that arrangement, instead of five starters, two pairs of four starting pitchers take turns starting and relieving every fourth day. That allows the use of eight starters rather than the traditional five. Often by Memorial Day, a combination of performance results and injuries thin the ranks and regular five-man rotations are implemented.

St. Louis Cardinals minor league spring training transactions – 2009-10

Date Game Cardinals minor league camp transactions
2010 (of 18)
23-Mar #7 Seven released. Ps Justin Fiske, Andres Rosales, Jonathan Gonzalez,
Reynier Gonzalez, Marco Gonzalez, 1B Matt Arburr, C Blake Murphy.
26-Mar #10 Ten released. Ps Brad Furnish, Tyler Lavigne, Randy Santos, Adam Veres,
Santo Maertz, Charlie Zink, Pedro Rodriguez, Yoffri Martinez,
OFs Travis Mitchell and Edwin Gomez.
Date Game Cardinals minor league camp transactions
2009 (of 17)
23-Mar #6 Five released . IFs Nick Vera, Isa Garcia, Ps Joe Rogers, Miguel Flores,
C Christian Rosa.
26-Mar #9 Nine released. Ps Hyang-Nam Choi, Russ Haltiwanger, Zach Pitts, Matt Spade,
Wayne Damon, Jose Mateo, Jon Mikrut, Jameson Maj, 3B Brian Cartie.
31-Mar #14 Seven released. Cs Justin Knoedler, Rickey Noland, Ps Ryan Bird,
J.D. Stambaugh, Davis Bilardello, Dylan Gonzalez, Josh Hester.

Reminder: To track all the signings, releases and other major roster moves across the entire Cardinals system, check out the Roster Matrix right here at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

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