Exit Interview: Justin Masterson

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.

This year’s Exit Interview series is brought to you by Cast.  Get instant feedback on whatever question you want to ask, whether it’s what’s going to happen in tonight’s game or which Muppet is the best.  Cast lets you ask anything that’s on your mind and quickly see what other folks are thinking as well.

Player: Justin Masterson

Season stats: 3-3, 7.04 ERA, 9 games, 30.2 IP, 35 H, 13 BB, 23 K, 1.565 WHIP, 53 ERA+

Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 4

Overall grade: D-

Positives: Threw seven innings of scoreless ball against the Marlins, giving hope that adjustments were taking hold….was not scored upon in his three bullpen outings in September, giving up just one hit in that span….apparently taught Shelby Miller how to throw a sinker.

Negatives: Was terrible in the starting rotation, with a 10.62 ERA if you don’t count that Marlins game….was expected to eat innings, yet only got past the fifth twice….got worse after leaving the American League, which is a special kind of difficult.

Overview: In Mo we trust.  That’s our motto, right?  That’s what has gotten us through a lot of questionable times since 2009 when he dealt Brett Wallace for Matt Holliday.  Mo knows what he’s doing.  We might not see what he sees, but it’s going to work out.

Except when it doesn’t.  It’s a rare time when John Mozeliak falls on his face, but this will be the example folks are going to point to for a long time, especially if James Ramsey pans out for the Indians.  It’s not that Ramsey had much of a shot at making the Cardinals any time soon, but when you give up something and get nothing, it doesn’t look good on the old ledger sheet.

And really, it would have been tough for the Masterson deal to look any worse.  He had the outing in Miami which brought his starting ERA under double digits for the year and he did do OK out of the bullpen, but that’s not what they got him for.  He also didn’t have a bad attitude, looking like he fit in well with the club (and making for a formidable basketball front line with Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha).  It’s too bad that, whatever the reasons, he didn’t work out in St. Louis, because I think he’d have been a fun guy to have around had he been even close to league average.

Mo’s not perfect.  We knew that, of course, but a deal like that can shake the foundations of your faith in him.  Not crumble it, just make you question a little more.

Outlook: Masterson may have to take a minor league deal or, at best, a one-year, low-money major league contract.  Someone will probably gamble that he can get back to his 2013 status, but it won’t be St. Louis.

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