Exit Interview: Brayan Pena

For the fifth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season.  Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series.  All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis.   Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.

This year’s Exit Interview series is “being brought to you by” some of the various Cardinal podcasts that are out there for your listening pleasure.  Our focus this time is Double Birds Podcast.  Chase and El Maquino, joined occasionally by guests, cast a sometimes critical but always informed eye on all things Cardinals.  Find them on iTunes or check out Chase’s blog.

Player: Brayan Pena

Season stats: 9 games, 14 PA, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K, .154/.214/.231, 20 OPS+, -0.2 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Goat 1

Overall grade: C-

Positives: Got his only extra base hit in his first at-bat coming off the DL for the second time….hit .500 (1 for 2) against lefties….was one for three away from Busch….hit .500 (1 for 2) in games the Cardinals won….nobody actually reads these comments, do they?

Negatives: Was hurt for 90% of the season and therefore Yadier Molina didn’t get near the rest expected….even his brief spurt of health during the season messed with the club, as they lost Eric Fryer to waivers just in time for Pena to return to the DL….only started two of his nine games….even had a nasty Twitter hack at the end of the season.

Overview: It’s really tough to say anything about Pena, isn’t it?  He got hurt in the spring, returned for like four games at the end of June/beginning of July, then was hurt the rest of the season, mainly getting a look in September because of expanded rosters.  The minimal time he did play, his defense made you wonder just how good the bat had to be to be worth playing on a semi-regular basis.  He made an error, had a passed ball, and allowed three wild pitches in just 19 innings behind the dish.  Nobody’s going to live up to Yadi’s standard, we know that, but keeping the ball in front of you would seem to be the minimum requirement.

Pena seems like a great guy, probably enlivened the clubhouse when he was around, and seemed to get along with everyone.  He’s relentlessly positive on Twitter, if that means anything.  All that said, you can’t really draw a lot of conclusions from this season except the fact that you kinda wish the Cards had just given him one year so Carson Kelly could be the backup next season.

Outlook: The club has noted that Pena’s defense was not at all what they were wanting, but he’s signed to a $2.5 million deal for next season.  It’s not inconceivable that they would waive him and eat that amount, but that’s not exactly been the Cardinals’ general operating procedure in the past.  It’s even more unlikely as a number of catchers (Alberto Rosario and Michael Ohlman) were taken off the 40-man roster.  It seems most likely that he’ll come to camp next season as Molina’s main backup for as long as he’s healthy, though a strong push by Kelly at Memphis could see Pena gone by the All-Star Break.

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