One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Austin Romine
Season stats: 11 G, 28 PA, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 BB, 7 K, .154/.214/.192, 19 OPS+, -0.2 bWAR, -0.3 fWAR
Statcast: .195 xwOBA, 4.7 barrel %, 87.2 exit velocity, 33.3 hard hit %, 33.8 K %, 2.9 BB %
Best Statcast category: Max Exit Velocity (59th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Pop Time 2B (3rd percentile)
Positives: Allowed Ivan Herrera to get a little more minor league seasoning, I guess….got hits in four of the 11 games he played in….actually was used as a pinch-hitter once by the Cardinals, in a game they won 11-3 against Cincinnati….caught all 11 innings in a game against the Braves.
Negatives: Took until his last Cardinal game to get an extra-base hit….waived when Yadier Molina returned and then wound up spending the rest of his season with the Reds….struck out in 25% of his plate appearances as a Cardinal, though that was a lower rate than his season as a whole.
Overview: The whole Romine experience was a strange one. Granted, at the time the Cardinals may have been more concerned than they let on about the return of Molina. Adam Wainwright said late in the season even he wasn’t sure that the mid-season absence of the longtime catcher wasn’t going to be permanent. So maybe they thought they’d need a catcher longer than what turned out to be a month. However, it seemed just a great time to see what you had in Andrew Knizner and Ivan Herrera. Neither one of those guys was going to be any worse than Romine, who is obviously on the downside of a career that didn’t exactly hit otherworldly heights. From the outside looking in, it seemed like Herrera disappointed the front office and they decided he needed more minor league time, which meant they needed another catcher. They played Romine more than I would have, since this was Knizner’s real shot at seeing what he could do, but they know a lot more about baseball than I do.
Outlook: Romine turned 34 last week which probably means he has another year or two of being a traveling backup catcher, assuming he doesn’t mind some time in the minors waiting on an injury or an opportunity. I am sure some team will issue him a non-roster invitation to spring training to have some catching insurance.