Exit Interview: Pete Kozma

The last couple of years, 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 2014 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.

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Player: Pete Kozma

Season stats:  14 games, 26 PA, 4 R, 3 2B, 3 BB, 4 K, .304/.385/.435  129 OPS+

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: B-

Positives: Showed his ability to hit late in the season hadn’t left him, as he hit .300 after his recall on August 31….small sample size, of course, but hit righties at a .333 clip….actually hit .500 with a 1.350 OPS (in five PA) coming off the bench.

Negatives: Spent most of the year in Memphis, where he hit just .248….actually played as much second as he did short in the bigs, though that’s probably more a negative toward the manager….went 0-5 with three strikeouts in the NLDS.

Overview: The Kozma magic may not be completely gone, but it’s fairly significantly diluted.  So much so that while Kozma started the year in the big leagues (because Mark Ellis started the year on the DL), when he went to Memphis he didn’t return until right before rosters expanded.  Maybe Matheny is learning a little bit after all.

Of course, a strong four weeks can make managers do silly things, such as start Kozma instead of Kolten Wong against Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers.  Thankfully that was the only start we saw him have, especially with Wong hitting so well, and Kozma didn’t even make an appearance in the NLCS at all.

Outlook: Kozma is, I believe, out of options, which means he’s a prime candidate for being non-tendered this offseason if the Cardinals don’t think he can be a full-time backup.  While he’s always going to be valuable defensively, that bat can’t be consistent enough for you to really want him to take up a roster spot, especially with a bench that will have Tony Cruz and Daniel Descalso also on it.  I have a feeling we may have seen the last of Kozma, though with this organization’s loyalty, you can’t be so sure.

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