OK, we’re still a couple of hours from first pitch, but the Cardinals made things official by purchasing the contract of Marco Gonzales. That was the only expected thing that was in the press release announcing the moves. The rest of them have me scratching my head a bit, so let’s talk this out and see what we come up with.
First off, the 40-man roster was full, so a move had to be made both to get Gonzales on that roster as well as eligible for today’s 25-man version. The most reasonable thing, given that Keith Butler is out with Tommy John surgery, would be to move Butler to the 60-day DL. Players on that extended DL are not counted toward the 40-man roster, so that would solve the first part of the equation. Then you just have to do a normal swap between Memphis (or Springfield, I guess) and the big league club. You’d think that someone like Eric Fornataro, who just came up, would go back to Memphis, with someone from there bumping down to AA. There aren’t really any other pitchers you’d want to send down at the moment, I don’t think.
However, instead of that, Joe Kelly goes to the 60-day and Pete Kozma is designated for assignment. Here’s the definition of what a DFA actually is. What’s interesting out of this, and given the state of the infield for the Cardinals probably shouldn’t be entirely ruled out, is that line about the player returning to the 40-man roster within 10 days. That’s not the usual state of affairs, of course, but those rejoicing over the end of the Kozma era might be just a bit cautious.
Let’s also state that this is not a setback for Kelly. As far as we know, he’ll be going out on his rehab assignment on Friday just like he was scheduled to. The move does not mean that the player has to be out another 60 days–the time out already counts toward that limit. Kelly has already been out past 60 days, so he can return to the active roster at any time. Of course, when he does, the Cardinals will then have to re-add him to the 40 man roster.
So what’s going on?
Given that the bullpen was taxed last night and you don’t know if you’ll get more than five innings out of Gonzales today, I can see the hesitation in shipping out an arm. That said, you leave the team with 11 hitters and 14 pitchers for today’s game. (EDIT: Wrong, I got my numbers mixed up. It’s a 12/13 split.) I’d think it wiser to swap out someone for a fresh arm than to go through all of this rigmarole, but really the only one that got used up last night was Seth Maness and I don’t think the club would want to send him down and be without him for 10 days. Especially with the starting rotation taking hits like it is, John Mozeliak might want to make sure Mike Matheny has as many options as possible. (EDIT: Of course, you could send out Nick Greenwood, who threw a bit last night. That would seem to make sense.)
Still, you have a bench of Tony Cruz (who often isn’t used, though the club might not have a choice now), Daniel Descalso, Shane Robinson and either Peter Bourjos or Jon Jay, depending who starts today. You best hope 1) nobody gets hurt and 2) you get a lead, because that’s not a bench you are excited about when the pinch-hitting spots come around. Baseball tends to look at things like this and say, “You know what? Today’s a great day for a lengthy extra-inning game!”
Getting rid of Kozma (if, in fact, that’s what the team is doing) seems really weird as well. One, he’s a much better glove than Daniel Descalso, and it’s not like Dirty Dan is lighting the world on fire with his bat. Sure, you take a little more of a financial hit to waive Descalso, but it’s not much and it shouldn’t be a factor in the decision here. Two, as noted, you get really, REALLY thin in the infield. As in, there’s one guy to back up three spots, basically. That’s not going to work for long.
Plus, here’s what I really don’t get–why bother calling Kozma up on Monday if you are going to get rid of him here? It’s not like he’s had a chance to confirm any issues or even make an impact at all. He hasn’t even gotten on the field since the callup!
Look, we think John Mozeliak is a very smart GM. He’s proven time and time again there is a reason he’s got the job and keeps getting contract extensions. So while some of this doesn’t make sense and seems a bit like a Rube Goldberg machine to get Gonzales on the roster (a move that in and of itself raises questions), I fully trust that there is information we don’t have or things going on behind the scenes that will possibly make this seem clearer once we get that knowledge. Could there be a trade in the works? Sure, there could be. I’d be surprised if Mo moved now, but freeing up spots on the 40-man without much need could be an indication he’s getting ready to strike. All in all, I think today FSMidwest should probably skip “Mike’d Up” and go to “Mo Moments” instead!
What do you think is going on? Let’s talk in the comments!
EDIT, 1 PM: Cardinals have announced Kozma has cleared waivers and has been sent to Memphis. It would appear he’d been put on waivers earlier, probably Sunday. Again, why the promotion, I don’t know. I’ve been told that you don’t have to be on the 25-man to be designated for assignment, so that’s not it. Though reading that DFA definition, it looks like you can’t waive in this situation until after you run the DFA, so it’s possible–and likely–Kozma slid through waivers like a greased pig through the barn gate, as Mr. Shannon would likely say. I’d probably go with a lightsaber through hot butter, but hey, whatever analogy works for you. Again, it seems like a lot of work–why not just option Kozma, why bring him up in the first place–but Mo knows. Right?