photo: Alex Reyes via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
St. Louis Cardinals press release
The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Wednesday, August 5) that they added four players from the Alternate Training Site in Springfield, recalling pitchers Alex Reyes and Génesis Cabrera and purchasing the contracts of infielder Max Schrock and pitcher Roel Ramirez (pronounced RO-ell).
Additionally, infielder Rangel Ravelo was placed on the Injured List and catcher Jose Godoy will be added to the Major League Taxi Squad.
Both Schrock and Ramirez will be making their Major League debuts with their first appearances.
Brian Walton’s take
With the MLB-wide roster reduction from 30 to 28 going into effect tomorrow (Thursday), the Cardinals needed to add five replacement players to cover the seven COVID-positive players.
From a roster perspective, all the moves make total sense. Replacing the lost skills of all-World catcher Yadier Molina and shortstop-cleanup hitter Paul DeJong is another matter, however.
Three pitchers to replace three pitchers establishes a 15-13 roster mix in favor of pitching, an expected arrangement given the number of games ahead as well as the missed week putting extra pressure on arms. Reyes, Cabrera and Ramirez step in for Carlos Martinez, Junior Fernandez and Kodi Whitley.
The same synergy exists with the club adding two infielders to replace two infielders. Brad Miller, activated on Tuesday, and Schrock replace IL-placed DeJong and Edmundo Sosa. Miller can play all four infield positions and the outfield, though he is not expected to be used in the outfield. Schrock is a second baseman who also has recent experience at third.
Further, the team could absorb the loss of one catcher since they were already planning to do so with the MLB-mandated reductions. Rangel Ravelo is the other of the two IL moves not directly replaced, but Austin Dean is almost a complete duplication defensively (first base and corner outfield) – and neither played much in the season’s early going.
The only reason Ravelo was not placed on the injured list with the other six COVID cases on Tuesday is that it would have taken the active roster below its minimum level. So the move was delayed one day until the team was ready to announce its additions.
The non-40-man roster catcher Godoy will be with the team home and away. He will catch in the bullpen and be ready for activation from the newly-expanded five-man taxi squad if anything happens to either catcher Matt Wieters or Andrew Knizner.
All of the new Springfield arrivals joined the team, fresh off the plane from Milwaukee, for Wednesday’s workout at Busch Stadium. The exception is Schrock, who had been with the team on the road trip as a taxi squad member.
The rotation going forward will be Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, Kwang-Hyun Kim and Daniel Ponce de Leon. Kim, who worked as a starter until the final few days of Summer Camp, had a brief turn as closer, but the break gives the team the chance to return him to his preferred role, taking Martinez’ spot every fifth day.
The team will mix and match in the ninth inning. Manager Mike Shildt mentioned Ryan Helsley’s name twice on Wednesday before adding Andrew Miller, Tyler Webb and Giovanny Gallegos may also be called upon based on end-of-game matchups.
Returnees Reyes and Cabrera threw three live batting practices while in Springfield and threw yesterday. As such, they are expected to be ready to join the bullpen on Friday, per Shildt.
Flaherty threw a light side session today and will be ready to start Friday, per Shildt.
Shildt named Tommy Edman as the replacement shortstop, with Miller and Matt Carpenter splitting between third base and designated hitter. “He can get it done,“ said the manager about his choice of Edman. Miller will likely back up Edman at short with Sosa sidelined.
Other players the manager mentioned as DH possibilities are outfielders Dean and Lane Thomas. Shildt was asked about the possibility of Tyler O’Neill becoming the cleanup hitter. The manager said while it is premature, he acknowledged his left fielder is a candidate.
The manager was queried about what else top prospect Dylan Carlson needs to demonstrate. Shildt said that the 21-year-old “has shown what he can do”. “There is no need for him at the moment,” Shildt added. He also said that when Carlson does arrive in the majors, he will “play consistently”. (BW comment: It is important to note that no outfield openings were created this week.)
The Cardinals had two 40-man roster openings, created by pitchers Jordan Hicks and John Brebbia being out for the season. Those spots were filled by Schrock and Ramirez. Both are trade acquisitions. Schrock came from Oakland in the Stephen Piscotty deal and Ramirez came from Tampa Bay in the Tommy Pham trade.
The club has not yet filled its two openings in the 60-man player pool for 2020, also vacated by Hicks and Brebbia. I expect those to be filled by closer-to-MLB-ready pitchers rather than position players or prospects from lower levels. While they could be brought in from outside the organization, I suspect internal options will be considered first.
Earlier this week, I predicted who the expected five additions to St. Louis’ roster would be. With all the cards now on the table, I batted .800, 4-for-5, with the bonus call of Godoy joining the taxi squad. Correct choices were Reyes, Cabrera, Schrock and Miller.
My only miss was the final pitcher. I thought prospect Johan Oviedo had earned a spot and frankly, I think the 6-foot-6 Cuban is a better pitcher than Ramirez, with the former primarily a starter while the latter is a pure reliever. On the other hand, there are valid service time reasons to not start Oviedo’s clock in 2020 , just to be the 15th pitcher on the roster. This is a consideration not unlike Carlson’s.
The team will have a 4:00 p.m. workout on Thursday. It will include a sim game of a “couple of innings,” per the manager.
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