This season didn’t go like most seasons. The Cardinals were terrible. I stopped writing here very much, with nothing after the blog anniversary. However, some things must go on and that includes the Exit Interview series! Now in its 12th year, it’s our look back at each player that made an appearance in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re approaching it a little different this season, a little more literary and a little less statistical, but hopefully you enjoy it just the same. As always, I am grateful that cardinalsgifs has agreed to use his talent for the header image!
Player: Tres Barrera
Stats: 6 G, 2 PA, .000/.000/.000, 0.0 bWAR
Statcast: 50.0% sweet spot, 95.0 max exit velocity, .161 xwOBA
Carrying tres catchers didn’t make any sense while the Cardinals were doing it and it never made any more later on. Early in May, in a situation we’ll talk more about later on, St. Louis decided that Willson Contreras just wasn’t cutting it at catcher and he’d have a lot of time at DH and the outfield, the latter part quickly walked back in an indication that the right hand and the left hand weren’t quite on the same page. The night before this announcement and Barrera’s callup, the Cards had pinch-hit for Andrew Knizner while Contreras was the DH, meaning that they lost their DH for the ninth inning. It didn’t seem like a big deal but apparently it was a real concern for the people in uniform.
So Barrera was called up on May 6 and he made his first appearance that night, catching the 10th inning of a game against the Tigers. He appeared in five more total games until he was placed on waivers on June 4. So for a solid month, 1/6th of the baseball season, the Cardinals basically played a man short. I get having insurance, but this was like taking out a $1 million policy on your 10 Hot Wheels cars. Sure, you like them, but is it really necessary? Do you want to tie up all your capital here for the odd chance you might lose your DH for an inning twice a month?
Nothing against Barrera, of course, who did what he was supposed to do and filled the spot usually held by the backup to Yadier Molina with aplomb. He seems to have been a good teammate and went back to Memphis when he cleared waivers, though he was no great offensive shakes down there either. Being a catcher is a good way to always have some work, whether it is in the majors or in the minors, and Barrera has had one decent year in the bigs and hasn’t turned 30 yet. He could be bouncing around baseball for quite some time, serving as an emergency catcher or the backup to a durable major league backstop.
Still, when you look at a guy that was on the active roster for a month and got all of two plate appearances, you have to wonder what the thought process of the front office really was. The repurposing of Contreras didn’t really seem to last that long and yet Barrera stayed up. Knizner hit .280 with four homers in that month, so maybe the need for aggressive pinch-hitting was lessened. It just was a weird part of a ugly season and one of many signs that the club really didn’t know what hit them.
What’s in store for 2024: Barrera isn’t on the 40-man so the club should still have control over him. That said, with Ivan Herrera having another option year and Pedro Pages likely getting a promotion, it wouldn’t be surprising if they cut Barrera loose and he finds work in another organization, spending most of the season in their AAA town.