Exit Interview: John Axford

Last year, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season.  This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2013 offseason.  More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter.  Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.

This year’s Exit Interview series is brought to you by Bonfyre.  A large number of the United Cardinal Bloggers used Bonfyre all season long and found it a great way to interact and discuss things in a limited audience.  No need to worry about some pseudo-fan crashing your Facebook conversation or trying to explain fine points in 140 characters on Twitter. Invite who you want to the group and get to talking.  Share pictures as well–Bonfyre is a great way to document parties or other events, especially for folks that can’t be there.  Sign up today and give it a try.

Name: John Axford

Season stats: 1-0, 1.74 ERA, 13 games, 10.1 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 11 K, 1.35 WHIP

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: B

Positives: When Axford was obtained from the Brewers for Michael Blazek, there were a lot of rumblings and grumblings.  Even though he was less than two years removed from leading the league in saves, Axford had fallen off the proverbial cliff in Milwaukee and was much more of a liability in their bullpen than an asset.  However, when he came to St. Louis, his results were much more pleasing to the eye.  It may have been that he needed a change.  It might have been the fact the Cardinals shared their scouting report on him, allowing him to make some changes.  It might just have been a small sample size.  Whatever the case, Axford gave the Cards a stable veteran to count on in low- to mid-level leverage situations.

Negatives: Axford never really got into the pressure situations, as St. Louis put him in games that weren’t hanging in the balance for the most part.  His command was better under the Arch, but he still walked 2.6 per nine innings, which is a tough thing for a reliever to work around.  He also gave up a hit an inning, meaning it was a rare appearance when he had a clean outing.  Walking that tightrope is going to cause you problems eventually.

Outlook:  If Axford wasn’t owed so much money, he’d be a pretty reasonable guy to bring back for next season.  However, he is going to be in the $5 million range, so he will be non-tendered by the organization.  Being that Axford had a positive experience here, he might be open to returning at a reduced rate.  It will likely depend on whether other teams focus on the ten innings he pitched in St. Louis or the 54 innings of not-so-greatness he threw in Milwaukee.  My gut feeling is that he probably winds up elsewhere, but it’s a close call.

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