C70 At The Bat

Exit Interview: Sam Freeman

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: Sam Freeman

Season stats:  2-0, 2.61 ERA, 44 games, 38 IP, 34 H, 19 BB, 35 K, 1.395 WHIP, 142 ERA+

Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 2

Overall grade: B

Positives: Had the highest K/9 rate of his career, fanning batters at a rate of 8.3 per nine innings….had a reverse split as righthanders just managed a .518 OPS off of him in 30 more plate appearances than lefties….was pretty solid in high-leverage situations (.554 OPS) thought was even better in medium-leverage ones (.427 OPS)…smallest of sample sizes (five games, nine PA) but got better after getting past 25 pitches (.111 BA vs. .244 BA).

Negatives: Still has command issues, walking 4.5 batters per nine innings….as noted, had more problems against left-handers, which complicates how he is used….was left of the NLCS roster to make room for A.J. Pierzynski….was hit much harder in the second half (.797 OPS)

Overview: It felt like Freeman took a bit of a step forward this year.  Matheny used him in some bigger spots, he was sometimes the first lefty out of the pen, and he got a lot of meaningful outs.  He pitched well down the stretch as well, putting up an 0.75 ERA and allowing a .514 OPS against in September when the Cards needed some solid work to hold off Pittsburgh.

All that said, Freeman still defies a role.  You can’t trust him in the late innings too much given his strong likelihood of walking folks.  He was better against lefties (somewhat) in 2013, so it’s possible the extreme reverse split of this past season will correct itself, but until it does it’s tough to use him as a LOOGY (though, as we’ve seen, the Cards seem to be less enthralled with such unitaskers).  Freeman still needs some experience and 2015 may determine what kind of career the young man is going to have.

Outlook: Freeman won’t turn 28 until the middle of the season, so he’s still got some room to develop, though like we said earlier today with Eric Fornataro, when you get into this part of your career, it’s tough to project a lot of growth.  Freeman seems to have the stuff to develop into a solid (if not top-notch) reliever and he should get plenty of chances with the Cardinals next season to see if he can gain command of his stuff.

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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: Eric Fornataro

Season stats:  0-0, 4.66 ERA, 8 games, 9.2 IP, 11 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 1.241 WHIP, 82 ERA+

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: C

Positives: Made his major league debut April 21 with a scoreless inning against the Mets….five of his eight outings, he had no runs charged to him….limited left-handers to a .214 average in 16 plate appearances.

Negatives: Was stroked for a .320 average in 26 plate appearances by righties….he allowed two runs in each of the other three appearances he made….was not called up in September even though he was on the 40-man roster and had already used his option.

Overview: There’s not just a lot to say about Fornataro.  Even though he can run his fastball up there at about 94 and has a changeup and curve to go with it, he still only struck out a batter every three innings.  While this wasn’t a terribly tumultuous year in the Cardinal bullpen by any means, the fact that he only got a handful of innings may say something about his standing in the organization.

Outlook: Fornataro will be 27 in January, so what we see now is pretty much what we are going to get.  With the significant number of power arms in the bullpen, it would seem unlikely that Fornataro will get a lot of playing time in St. Louis, but he can be a handy organizational soldier, bouncing back and forth from St. Louis to Memphis if necessary.

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Exit Interviews: Mark Ellis

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: Mark Ellis

Season stats:  73 games,  202 PA,  15 R,  6 2B,  12 RBI,  4 SB, 14 BB, 38 K, .180/.253/.213  32 OPS+

Hero/Goat: Hero 3, Goat 1

Overall grade: D-

Positives: You know you are straining for positives when the best you can come up with is that he hit .218 away from Busch and .224 in June–and those are the good things…..hit .308 on a 2-0 count….didn’t make an error at second base and did a fairly solid job when he started out there.

Negatives: You don’t have to go much past that slash line to realize this section could get loaded down….hit .195 against left-handers, which undermined the idea of him at least spelling Kolten Wong against some of those pitchers….hit .138 in the second half, though he only got 32 plate appearances after the All-Star Game, which tells you all you really need to know about the season.

Overview: On paper, this looked like another stellar move for John Mozeliak.  Ellis would come in, give Wong some help against tough lefties, provide some veteran leadership, and be a great option off the bench.  Pretty much none of that actually panned out.  In fact, it was the controversy of the early part of the year when Wong was sent to Memphis while Ellis was scuffling just as much.

Back during the winter, I wrote a post about Ellis because I kept forgetting he was on this team.  I didn’t realize that was going to be prescient.  In 10 years–heck, in three years–when people ask you to name who was on the 2014 Cardinals, you are never going to be able to come up with Ellis, even though he was on the team all year long.  He never made an impression, never had much of an impact on this club.  He had a good game, maybe two, but that was about it.

This might have been the first real chink in the armor of Mozeliak, though he’s always been stronger on trades than free agent signings anyway (as Ty Wigginton will attest).  With some of the other moves of the summer, maybe this was less of a fluke and more of a sign.

Outlook: The last time Ellis was this bad, he bounced back to have tolerable years with Colorado and then Oakland.  Somebody will take a flyer on him for the same reasons St. Louis did this year–history, veteran presence, bench strength–and possibly get a good reward.  However, it seems pretty likely his last big payday was this year’s $5 million.  Hopefully he invested wisely.

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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: Daniel Descalso

Season stats:  104 games,  184 PA,  20 R,  11 2B,  10 RBI,  20 BB, 33 K, .242/.333/.311  82 OPS+

Hero/Goat: Hero 1

Overall grade: C

Positives: Hit .315 with a .835 OPS during the second half in roughly as many plate appearances as he did in the first half….hit .364 against left-handed pitchers, albeit in a fairly small sample size (40 PA)….had a strong August, putting up a .915 OPS….started at each infield position over a four game stretch, setting a Cardinal team record.

Negatives: Faced righties much more (144 PA) and only put up a .211 average against them….while he could stand at any position, that didn’t mean he was any great shakes defensively, putting up some ugly fielding numbers at shortstop….turned into one of Matheny’s top choices, even when he didn’t fit the situation.

Overview: Descalso got a lot of grief this season, though at least some of that was misdirected angst at Matheny continuing to run him out there, especially at shortstop.  Of course, when you hit .182 in the first half of the season, you dig yourself quite a hole that it takes a long time to get out of.  People tend to carry those first impressions with them for longer than they should, and it’s not like Descalso was going to be roping line drives and extra base hits to help them forget about such a slow start.

While it feels like that Descalso comes up big in pinch-hitting situations, on the year he just hit .196 in such situations.  I’m not going into the game log to check, but it does feel like he got a few more key hits down the stretch than that number indicates.  Of course, he went 0-2 with a sacrifice in the postseason, so he didn’t do much on the biggest stage.

It’s a little surprising that Descalso will be offered arbitration, though the club would seem to have the upper hand here and likely will settle at a favorable number without much difficulty.  As the end of a bench, he does provide value.  The key is getting Matheny to leave him at the end of the bench instead of making him a regular option.

Outlook: It’s fairly unfathomable that Dirty Dan won’t be wearing a Cardinal uniform next year, though given that he’s reaching those arbitration years I’d expect Greg Garcia to get much more of a chance to replace him as the scrappy backup middle infielder and 2015 be the last we see of Descalso in Cardinal red.

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Exit Interview: Tony Cruz

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: Tony Cruz

Season stats:  50 games,  150 PA,  11 R,  5 2B,  1 HR,  17 RBI,  13 BB, 28 K, .200/.270/.259  49 OPS+

Hero/Goat: Goat 1

Overall grade: C-

Positives: Had a shining moment in the postseason as he hit a home run off of Madison Bumgarner in the Cardinals’ last game….hit righthanders a bit better than his season line, putting up a .572 OPS against them….hit .247 in the first half in almost exactly half of his playing time.

Negatives: His first real postseason moment, filling in for a hurt Yadier Molina, was a negative one, allowing a passed ball in the first inning of play and a wild pitch that let the Giants score the winning run….could not claim the starting job entirely while Molina missed time during the season, leading the team to eventually settle on A.J. Pierzynski….hit a paltry .157 in the second half, with fatigue not really an excuse.

Overview: We often have heard it said that Tony Cruz could be an acceptable backstop if anything were to happen to Yadier Molina.  Then, when something does happen to Molina, the Cardinals scramble to find folks to take the brunt off of having Cruz out there every day.  While I appreciate that he’s absorbed a lot of knowledge from Molina and, indeed, often is a capable fielder, there’s no doubt the only resemblance his hitting has to Molina is to the 2006 version (post-season home run and all).

I guess it depends on what you want from a backup.  If you want someone that can step into the starter’s shoes and make an impact or at least hold your own, I don’t think Cruz is that guy.  If you want someone that can occasionally get a hit but handle a pitching staff and is content with limited playing time behind the machine that is Yadi, Cruz can give you that.

As much as we don’t want to think about it, there’s going to come a time when Yadi isn’t going to be behind the plate for the Cardinals or isn’t the 150-game type guy that we are used to seeing.  We’ve already had him down for a few weeks during the last couple of seasons.  I’d say Cruz is great for insurance, but you want insurance to work when you need it.  Given what we’ve seen out of Cruz in extended play, I’m not sure what he brings counts in that regard.

Outlook: All that said, the Cards aren’t likely to pay for someone to ride the pine a lot while Molina starts.  With players like Carson Kelly perhaps on the way, Cruz will likely be the backup until he gets too expensive, at which time he’ll be let go.  That won’t be 2015, though.

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Exit Interview: Allen Craig

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: Allen Craig

Season stats:  97 games,  398 PA,  34 R,  17 2B,  1 3B, 7 HR,  44 RBI,  26 BB, 77 K, .237/.291/.346  78 OPS+

Hero/Goat: Hero 7

Overall grade: D

Positives: Hit .291 with three HR in May, giving us hope the real Allen Craig was returning….picked the right opponent to do damage against, putting up a 1.257 OPS against the Brewers….hit .270 at home, which was at least much higher than his season mark if not to his normal levels.

Negatives: Never got close to his career marks, as he was roughly 200 points of OPS behind his lowest year before this season….was helpless against right-handers, hitting only .208 on the year against them….posted a .408 OPS in July, indicating to John Mozeliak this wasn’t going to get any better.

Overview: Was it the foot injury not completely healing?  That seems to be the only way to rationalize the shell of a player we saw this season, the one wearing Craig’s jersey but doing a terrible imitation of him.  Out after out piled up and the man that could do no wrong with runners on in 2013 couldn’t get them home with weak grounders in 2014.

It was hard to see him go out there every day, especially when Oscar Taveras was sitting on the bench or demoted because Mike Matheny kept running him out there.  Baseball is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport, of course, and to be fair if the rest of the offense was clicking, it’s possible they could have waited a little longer for the resurgence of Craig.

However, given the fact that things weren’t getting better and that Matheny had almost a pathological need to keep putting him in the lineup, Mozeliak did what he did with Mitchell Boggs and helped dictate who would play.  It’s pretty impressive that he was able to get a guy like John Lackey for Craig and Joe Kelly, when you think about it.  Boston bet big on a Craig resurgence, a bet they still may win going forward.

Outlook: Baseball is littered with folks that had a good couple of years, then fell off the map.  However, I don’t really thing Craig is going to be that kind of player.  It might not be in 2015 and it might not be with Boston, but I feel that one of these years, we’ll look up and see Craig stroking base hits and driving in runs again at a rate that reminds us of the good old days.  I think most Cardinal fans would look forward to that day, assuming it’s not with a hated rival or anything.

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Exit Interview: Randy Choate

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: Randy Choate

Season stats:  2-2, 4.50 ERA, 61 games, 36 IP, 27 H, 13 BB, 32 K, 1.111 WHIP, 82 ERA+

Hero/Goat: Goat 2

Overall grade: B

Positives: Choate limited lefties to .093/.205/.147 line in the regular season….he struck out almost a batter per inning, which is fairly impressive given that often he only faced one or two batters per outing….was dominant at home, allowing a .554 OPS to opposing batters in Busch.

Negatives: Righties had no problem with Choate, putting up a .938 OPS against him….led the league in “you had one job!” comments, having seven different outings where he didn’t retire a batter….the lasting image of Choate this winter will be of him melting down in Game 3 of the NLCS, throwing away Gregor Blanco‘s bunt and giving the Giants the win.

Overview: When Randy Choate was signed, what did everyone expect out of him?  A guy that would get lefties out, right?  Nobody ever thought that Choate would turn into a long man or even a seventh-inning guy.  While there was debate over whether a three-year deal was a good idea, everyone was pretty much on board with Choate’s LOOGY-ness.

Apparently everyone doesn’t include John Mozeliak and Matheny.  Coming into the 2014 season, there was talk about stretching him out, that Choate could be a great guy to go a full inning instead of just a batter or two.  You can look above to see exactly how well that panned out and, to be fair, late in the season it seemed like that they scrapped that plan somewhat.  Then, after a postseason where Choate was less than lights out, Mozeliak claims he’s too one-dimensional for the Cardinal bullpen and wants to trade him off.

If you were to be snarky, you could say the usage of Choate says less about him and more about the bullpen management that the skipper had going on.  It’s amazing how most everyone can carry a left-handed specialist but that it’s too much trouble for this team to have one.  It’s also crazy to think that you can’t hold him in reserve for tough lefties when you have guys like Sam Freeman and Marco Gonzales and even Patron Pitcher Tyler Lyons who throw with the left hand but can get hitters from both sides out.

Look, I complained about Choate’s contract when he signed it and I get as frustrated as anyone on those rare times where he can’t get a lefty out.  But saying that he doesn’t fit on this team anymore because he’s a specialist is disingenuous at best.  He’s exactly what you should have expected when he signed the deal.  If you can’t use him that way, perhaps you need to examine other reasons why not.

Outlook: Even though Mo may want to trade Choate, $3 million for a LOOGY is a tough pill to swallow for many teams, especially for a guy that’s “old” (I use scare quotes since he’s a month younger than I am).  I don’t know if Mozeliak is motivated enough to move him that he’d eat some of the salary, but it also seems unlikely that they’d make public comments like that and bring him back.  I’d put it at 70% that Choate will be elsewhere next year, but it’s no guarantee.

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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: Matt Carpenter

Season stats:  158 games,  709 PA,  99 R,  33 2B,  2 3B, 8 HR,  59 RBI,  95 BB, 111 K, .272/.375/.375  111 OPS+

Hero/Goat: Hero 17, Goat 13

Overall grade: A

Positives: While he couldn’t copy last year’s numbers, Carpenter turned in another fine season while moving back over to third base….continues to haunt Clayton Kershaw, coming through with a bases-loaded double that brought the Cards all the way back….led the league in walks….saw over 3100 pitches in the regular season, an average of 4.36 per plate appearance.

Negatives: Had a bit of a rough second half, at least in batting average (.255 vs. .283, though the other rate stats were fairly stable)….hit .238 in August….only hit .233 with two outs in an inning, though he did hit three home runs in such situations.

Overview: It’s tough to make an impact on the fan base when you have Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright on the squad, but Carpenter is definitely right up there with the Cardinal faithful.  Nobody expected him to have another year like 2013, when he set all sorts of (likely) career highs, but he didn’t slump much from those highs and again proved to be an unlikely but extremely efficient leadoff man.

Carpenter works pitches like I work words–the more the better.  His at-bats are amazing things to watch.  And when he got ahead of the pitcher?  .307/.545/.441.  You’ve got to come after him, but he’ll hit it if you do.  Nibbling isn’t going to work because he’s got a knack of fouling balls off until he gets the one he wants.  Then it’s a liner in the gap and he’s off to second.  To see him be able to approximate last season gives a great bit of hope that he’s not going to come to earth anytime soon.  Then again, we thought that about Allen Craig…..

Outlook: Carpenter will be starting at third and leading off for quite some time to come.  This offense will only click when he’s going well, so hopefully that will be quite often again in 2015.

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Exit Interview: Keith Butler

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: Keith Butler

Season stats:  0-0, 27.00 ERA, 2 games, 2 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 3.500 WHIP, 16 ERA+

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: C

Positives: His second outing was much better than his first–he allowed just one run in that inning, though he did hit a batter….his arm didn’t actually fall off on the mound, though I think it came close.

Negatives: His first outing, he allowed five runs in one inning, coming into a game already out of hand and completely blowing it up….he then had to go have Tommy John surgery, meaning that ugly ERA wasn’t ever coming down.

Overview: It’s tough to be too down on Butler, since he did just have the limited time and then had to be cut open.  Butler always seemed to be a guy that was on the fringe of a very good bullpen and, while he had youth and some heat on his side, it wouldn’t take much to bump him out of the Redbirds’ plans.  There are a lot of good young arms in the system and not everyone can be at the big league level at the same time.

What was also strange about Butler this year, though it had really little to do with him, was the lengths the team seemed to go to not to put him on the 60-day DL.  Even when it was the easiest thing to do, the Cardinals seemed to jump through hoops to keep him on the 40-man roster.  Looking at it now, it seems St. Louis demoted Butler to Memphis and he was disabled there.  Perhaps that had something to do with it?  I wouldn’t think so, but baseball roster rules aren’t always easy to figure out.

Outlook: As Miranda pointed out over at Redbird Rants, since it took a while before Butler had the surgery, it’s fairly unlikely we’ll see him at the big league level next year.  Maybe a September call-up, but even that’s pushing it.  It wouldn’t be unheard of for St. Louis to release him this offseason if they need the room on the 40-man roster.

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Exit Interview: Joey Butler

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: Joey Butler

Season stats:  6 games, 6 PA, 1 BB, 3 K, .000/.167/.000  -48 OPS+

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: C-

Positives: Well, umm, he got called up….and drew a walk.

Negatives: He didn’t get a hit or provide instant right-handed power….struck out in half of his plate appearances.

Overview: You’d forgotten about this Butler, hadn’t you?  Truth be told, I had as well until I started looking at the list of folks that had made an appearance in a Cardinals game this year.  Once you see the name, though, it all comes back.  This was our precursor to questionable Matheny outfield maneuvering.  Butler never got a start, never had a chance to really show what he could do.  After all, the year before in limited play with Texas (limited, yes, but double the amount of time he got in St. Louis) he had two doubles and put up a .967 OPS.

Yet even when the Cardinal offense was floundering, when Peter Bourjos was doing nothing from the right side and when a guy with power could be helpful, Butler never got to do more than a few pinch-hitting appearances.  Butler was quickly moved out for Randal Grichuk‘s first tour of duty and eventually was sold to Japan, where he hit .231 and had two home runs in 66 plate appearances.  Maybe John Mozeliak and Matheny could make a snap judgement on him that turned out to be correct.

Outlook: As far as I can tell, he’s still on the roster of the Orix Buffaloes, so maybe he’ll have more success with them in 2015.  If he gets another shot at the majors, it’ll probably be with an American League team to give him the option to DH, but nobody is likely to be clamoring for him anytime soon.

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Exit Interview: Peter Bourjos

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: Peter Bourjos

Season stats:  119 games,  294 PA,  32 R,  9 2B,  5 3B, 4 HR,  24 RBI,  9 SB, 20 BB, 78 K, .231/.294/.348  79 OPS+

Hero/Goat: Hero 5, Goat 6

Overall grade: C

Positives: Bourjos played the defense that we’d come to expect, gaining much of his WAR value from that aspect of his game….hit a game-tying home run off of Clayton Kershaw in a July game….hit righties at a .255 clip, though three of his four homers came off lefties….increased his OPS by 70 points in the second half, though he played half as often.

Negatives: Started the season in a terrible funk, posting a .510 OPS in April….he came off the bench in 54 of his games, totaling just 48 plate appearances in those games….could have been pictured on St. Louis milk cartons, only starting five of the team’s last 15 regular season games.

Overview: It was a perfect storm of suck for Bourjos this season.  He got off to the slow start, possibly due to the wrist surgery he’d had in the offseason, perhaps due to changing leagues, and seemed to work his way into Matheny’s doghouse.  Then, when he might have been able to get some good playing time, Jon Jay took off and make it difficult to get Bourjos regularly in the lineup.  Even the Allen Craig trade didn’t help, as first Oscar Taveras then Randal Grichuk kept Jay from sliding over to right.

Bourjos has his ardent defenders (hi Ben and Marilyn!) and while sometimes Jay gets a little short shrift for what he did this season, especially while no one else was doing it, the case for Bourjos being neglected is strong as well.  There’s no doubt he should have been playing more in the postseason, especially as Grichuk struggled.  In low-scoring games, you’d think you’d want your best defense out there and Bourjos definitely was part of that.  The use of Bourjos this season was pretty egregious at times, though to be fair the crowded outfield would have taxed many a manager, much less Matheny.

Outlook: With Jay publicly touted as the center fielder for 2015, it would seem Bourjos would have to move on.  As great as it would be to have him as an insurance policy, he’s too good to sit on the bench and play an inning every couple of days.  It’s possible that Mozeliak will say one thing publicly and another when the GMs start talking to him, but right now I’d guess that Bourjos will have his third uniform in three years when Opening Day comes around next season.

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Exit Interview: Matt Adams

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: Matt Adams

Season stats:  142 games,  563 PA,  55 R,  34 2B,  5 3B, 15 HR,  68 RBI,  26 BB, 114 K, .288/.321/.457  115 OPS+

Hero/Goat: Hero 15, Goat 12

Overall grade: B

Positives: Adams spent much of the year challenging for the batting title before slipping in the latter part of the season….had three huge postseason home runs, two off of left-handers….had an .854 OPS against right-handed pitchers….played some solid to upper-level defense, especially for a big man.

Negatives: Save those October homers, struggled against lefties (.190/.231/.298)….his defense failed him at the worst time, committing two gaffes in Game 4 of the NLCS to allow San Francisco to take the lead….perhaps wore down over his first full season, as he hit just .239 after August 1.

Overview: Big Fill-In-The-Blank had a lot to prove coming into this season.  He had to prove that his power wasn’t a fluke and that he could grow as a hitter.  He spent much of the early part of the season going the other way at the expense of his power, but all in all checked that box off.  He also needed to show he could hold his own against left-handed hitters, but that is still a work in progress, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner notwithstanding.

Still, it was a joy to watch Adams play this season.  The big man was able to tally five triples, mainly by hitting the ball so hard that even he could cruise into third.  His leap after his blast off of Kershaw will be replayed often in the minds of Cardinal fans this offseason.

Outlook: While the idea has been floated that the Cards need a right-handed companion for Adams, John Mozeliak said that wouldn’t be a high priority for the club during the winter.  Which means that you’ll see Big City (or Big Country or Big Mayo) manning first for the Cards come Opening Day 2015.

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