An Aanswer To The Bullpen Question?

When talking about the last man in the bullpen, we’ve tended to focus on what is already in camp with the Cardinals.  After all, it’s not a position that is so valuable you’d have to trade for a guy if something didn’t work out.  There was no reason to think that another variable would be added to the mix this late in the game.

However, that’s seemingly what happened yesterday as the Cards signed David Aardsma, who was cut by the Indians recently.  Aardsma, who has been a closer but in my book is best known for knocking Hank Aaron off the top of the all-time alphabetical players list (it was pretty cool that the home run king–at least when I was growing up–was the first player listed in the Baseball Encyclopedia), had pitched well for the Indians and, after a rough start, settled in yesterday when he got a chance to pitch against the Nationals.  Obviously he’s a veteran guy in the vein of Pat Neshek, but I believe this move is more about depth than solving any current equations.

If nothing else, it’s a logistical nightmare.  The team has already gotten down to 39 on the 40-man roster to be able to add Neshek, who seems a fair lock to go north.  They’d have to take someone else off the 40-man to add Aardsma.  Possible, but not necessarily something they’d like to do.  Then you have to deal with the return of Jason Motte.  You couldn’t send Aardsma down to the minors when Motte is ready because he’s out of options and would have to clear waivers.  He might clear them, he might not.  However, do you need to take that risk when you have someone like Jorge Rondon that you still have the rights to and can move freely back and forth from Memphis?

Lastly, the Cards haven’t been able to evaluate him first-hand this spring and won’t get much chance to do so.  He pitched yesterday and will likely pitch in the game in Memphis on Friday, but is two innings what you want to base a decision on?  Perhaps they’ve been scouting Aardsma for a while, perhaps he’s a guy they really like.  Still, it seems less than prudent to stick him on the big league roster with such little exposure.  Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but I expect they’ll keep him in Memphis and if someone (perhaps Seth Maness, given his struggles) needs a minor league breather, they’d call him up.

Interestingly enough, the addition of Aardsma could have gone against the clubhouse chemistry that John Mozeliak seems to value in his moves.  Aardsma was one of those players that blasted the Jhonny Peralta signing, indicating he shouldn’t have gotten that kind of money after his PED suspension.  Aardsma apologized to Peralta when he got into camp and it seems like the issue is over, but it could have been a divisive element in the mix.  I expect Mo talked to Aardsma about that before the signing, just to make sure it wouldn’t be a problem.

Rick Hummel has an article up headlined “Numbers suggest Bourjos will start in CF“.  Now, I know the writers don’t make up their headlines, but there’s a vulgar phrase involving Sherlock Holmes that comes to mind when you see that.  It’s not just numbers–anyone that expected Mozeliak traded off a valuable asset like David Freese for a bench guy might also believe that talking about blogging is a great way to impress the ladies.  Of course Peter Bourjos was going to start.  Yes, his .343 average this spring makes that decision easier and perhaps if he was hitting .143 and Jon Jay was dominating things might have been reevaluated, but he was brought in for his glove first and foremost.  If the Cards could get to the World Series with Pete Kozma at shortstop, they could handle Bourjos’s normal offensive output.

I know, I know, Mike Matheny said not to automatically assume Bourjos was the starter when he was acquired.  Matheny also said that there was a competition for the fifth spot in the rotation.  I don’t want to modify Rule #1 from Doctor Who here (“The Doctor lies“) but let’s just say Matheny’s public comments aren’t always reflective of the reality of the situation.  Whether for motivation or other reasons, it made sense to give Jay the hope that he could come in and win playing time.  However, logically, Bourjos was always going to get the bulk of it.

Cards faced off against the Nationals yesterday and Adam Wainwright looked like Adam Wainwright, which is a very good thing.  Five scoreless innings, which ran his current streak to 13, shows that Waino is ready for the season to start.  We’ll see him next on Monday, throwing out the first Cardinal pitch in Cincinnati.

Carlos Martinez, who has publicly stated his acceptance of his bullpen role, got his first taste of it this spring and it wasn’t a fully enjoyable one.  To be fair, he did give up a broken-bat single as part of loading the bases, which in theory (I didn’t see it) would mean that he hit the spot he wanted to, just got some bad luck.  He also almost got out of the situation, striking out the next two batters, but when the bases are loaded with none out, it’s difficult to get three guys in a row out and, sure enough, the last guy singled and then a walk ended Martinez’s day.  While the results aren’t great, especially the walks, it’s not as disastrous as it appears at first blush.  I expect we’ll see Martinez in either today’s game or the one in Memphis (probably the latter) and hopefully we’ll see better results then.

St. Louis takes on the Marlins one last time this spring, with Michael Wacha on the hill.  It was interesting to see on Twitter last night teams saying goodbye to their spring training homes as they moved on to play some last exhibitions away from Florida and Arizona.  The Cards will pack up after today and head over to Memphis before taking the trip to Cincinnati.  The season is just about here, amazingly enough.  It seems like it’s been a quick spring but everyone is ready for the season to start.  When the Post-Dispatch is running features on the all-time coolest names of the Cardinals, it’s time to play ball!

Remember, the regional finals of the Favorite Living Cardinal Tournament wrap up today at noon, so if you’ve not voted yet, please do so.  We’ll start the Final Four tomorrow.  Also, we wrap up Playing Pepper today with the Nationals this afternoon and we take a look at the NL West in predictions later this morning.  Plus, if you are at all interested, I’ll be on Mets Public Record tonight around 10:15 Central Time talking with A.C. about the Cards.  Thanks for your support!

  • mrlyngreen March 27, 2014, 8:11 am

    Hey Daniel,

    Not to be picky or anything, but about David Aardsma, it doesn’t matter that he’s out of options because he has 7 years of service time, which means he can’t be optioned to the minors without his consent anyway.

    My guess is with Rondon that they saw he has control problems (he has a very high walk rate in the minors) and decided to look at other options. Not to say that Aardsma is a good other option, he isn’t, but he had a good ST with the Indians, even though they released him. Maybe since what they needed was a short term fix anyway with Motte on the horizon to come back, they decided to see if they could squeeze some decent relief innings out of Aardsma while they are waiting for Motte. Besides, Aardsma has already been released by 3 teams in the last year, so what ‘s a 4th?

    Personally, I thought Freeman was their best option, but apparently they didn’t agree. Wanted a righty, I guess.

    • Cardinal70 March 27, 2014, 8:40 am

      You are right, Marilyn. I knew that and I think that’s what I had in mind when I said out of options, but I didn’t clarify that enough so I appreciate the help!

      I think you are right, Rondon’s control has been a little iffy, though the club has been fulsome with praise of how he’s taken instruction and made adjustments. If Motte is only going to be out for a couple of weeks (which, I don’t know–I haven’t seen a timetable), how much damage could the rookie do? If this was TLR’s team, I’d believe that more, perhaps, but this regime has shown no qualms about putting the rookies in the spotlight.

      Freeman had some control issues this spring as well, which combined with the number of lefties might have been enough to send him down. Though, like you, I’d probably rather see him up and Siegrist used as a regular reliever instead of a LOOGY.

      We’ll find out soon enough, of course, and it wouldn’t be the first or last time I’ve been on the wrong side of things!

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