One Last Desperate Plea

by on March 16, 2011 · 6 comments

HINT: McClellan is the one in the middle.

This is one last desperate plea from Statler, Waldorf, and myself.  Kyle McClellan joined the two Muppets in the back of the theater, but he doesn’t want to speak on his on behalf at this point.  That’s fine.  I’m bringing the heat and blathering enough for all 4 of us.  We’ve got one simple message.

Leave McClellan in the bullpen.

Yeah, I was on-board with giving him a look as a starter earlier in the spring, and he’s shown some pretty good stuff.  He’s been practically dominant at times, basically picking up where he left off last season.  Without question he’s good enough to mow down a lineup 1-9.  That’s exactly why he needs to stay in the bullpen.  If he had come out and cruised through 5 innings on 60 pitches and looked ready to go another 3 more, I would have a different opinion.  If his pitch selection didn’t remind me of the 8th inning of a close game in July, I’d probably feel differently.  If the Cardinals had more bullpen depth, this wouldn’t be quite the same debate.  If we had flying cars, I wouldn’t bother blogging about baseball, because I’d be flying my freakin’ car around all the time. 

Since we don’t have flying cars, I’m going to harp on this little topic for a bit.  Statler and Waldorf gave me the green light.  Oquendo probably gave me the red light, but he can be safely ignored, because well….he’s Oquendo, and everybody ignores his “stop sign”.  Of course, McClellan has put been in the ideal positions to succeed.  Of course he looks great when he only has to pitch a few innings at a time.  What would happen, if he had to throw six like Lohse did the other day on a regular basis?  Better yet, why bother?

Realize that the Cardinals have questions at closer.  I already wrote a piece in defense of Ryan Franklin‘s actual effectiveness versus perception, but the truth is that it’s hard to change perception.  If he struggles, then what will the Cardinals do?  How much will McClellan’s value to the pen be missed?  Yes, they have plenty of arms available to claim that they have “pitching depth” as opposed to having Dennys Reyes which qualified last season as “pitching width”.  That still doesn’t give me the same warm fuzzy that I get from looking down at the bullpen knowing that Motte, Boggs, McClellan, Salas, and Miller are all still available BEFORE Franklin is even mentioned.  If Franklin struggles AND Mac is a starter, then that’s 2 names effectively removed from the list.  Maybe Batista et al. can fill the void, but I’d rather that void not be created in the first place.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and so do I. 

Turn it over to someone like Lance Lynn.  He’ll struggle at times, but he’ll learn a lot from it.  How much more can he learn at AAA compared to what he can learn working with Dave Duncan, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and the rest of the staff every day? Even if McClellan does manage to stretch out from 70 innings to 160-170, that still leaves a lot of innings for the bullpen to carry.  How much will that hurt come August?  This is a completely philosophical debate for me, and I really respect those who believe that McClellan is the best 5th starter.  They just don’t have the two grumpy Muppets from the balcony on their side, and I do.

TIDBIT:  Not many pitchers go from starter at A ball to reliever at AA and the major league level to reliever in the big leagues to starter at the major league level.  Just sayin’.

MORE BITS OF TID:  Word has it that Statler was invited to spring training this year, but he declined the invitation based on a desire to avoid taking a pay cut.  The scouting report on him is that he’s scrappy and slightly taller than Nick Punto (just kidding…Punto is at least 4 inches taller than Statler).

Like it?  Did you know the names of the two Muppets in the balcony?  Follow gr33nazn on Twitter, and maybe I’ll drop more useless info on you!

Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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PH8 March 16, 2011

There is some slight history here at PH8 re: this subject…

McClellan to the rotation? Why?

Save McClellan for next year

Kyle McClellan and starting: Let’s review

Kyle McClellan and closing?

It’s not that I don’t think McClellan is talented enough for the job. If anything, he’s proven this spring (and past, really – just been snakebit) that he can be successful as a starter.

My question has consistently been – for how long? How long until that arm gives out again, or just tires? KMac admitted of tiring and dead arm late in his rookie season – obviously he’s gained some strength since then, but for an arm that has been repaired multiple times – what is the risk?

Nevermind the impact on the bullpen…

I hope he proves me wrong.

Dennis March 16, 2011

I honestly did read a few of those in the archives, but I just wanted an excuse to put Kyle in the balcony with the Muppets. Besides, it just seems like a waste to tamper with something that is working, especially when it seems like patience is all that is necessary.

PH8 March 16, 2011

Don’t doubt that you did – just wanted to be certain they were front and center for the 3 Loyals. 🙂

Jack618 March 16, 2011

I’d like to make a small counter argument if you’d be so inclined. I’ve been on your side of this debate for the last couple years, but I feel this is the year to give Kyle a crack at the rotation. My reasoning is this: if Kyle starts the year in the rotation he can always be (barring injury) moved back to the pen. However, if he starts the year in the pen, he will not be able to easily be moved into the rotation should the need arise. After pitching in the pen for a month or two, his arm will not be conditioned to throw more than a couple innings.

For the first time, I see Kyle as the clear cut winner of this 5th starter competition, and I do think there are still some things Lynn can work on at Menphis. I’d like to see him have more than a half season’s worth of success there. And if Kyle works out as a starter, I see that as a lot more valuable than a eighth inning guy. Should Kyle struggle as a starter and Lynn tear it up at AAA, move Kyle back to the pen and call Lynn up to the rotation; no harm no foul. Should Lynn start the year as 5th starter and prove not to be ready, youve taken Kyle off the table as an option and have to move on to who? Augenstein? Batista?

I feel like our depth at RH reliever is much more palatable than that. I think Salas, Sanchez, and Reifer could all be serviceable bull pen guys right now.

PH8 March 16, 2011

Jack, I’m totally with you on this. For the first time since the idea’s been floated, it’s actually a real necessity to consider him.

In 2009 Carp came back and he wasn’t needed as a starter. Last spring, he got flat beat out by Garcia – and Garcia afforded them the *luxury* of returning KMac to the pen.

This time around, KMac has seized the competition – and there’s not a “no-brainer” reason to return him to the ‘pen, if you will.

I’ve conceded he’ll be a starter, I just hope it doesn’t backfire.

Dennis March 16, 2011

Jack, dissenting opinions are always welcome. I was originally on-board with K-Mac as the leader in the clubhouse for the 5th starter job. I’ve since moved off that position for a couple of reasons. First, I think that the value of McClellan in the pen versus his pen replacement may exceed the value of McClellan the starter versus . Second, I’m not sold on the idea that he’ll work out as a 5th starter. In theory, he can start and move back to the pen, but fatigue from tossing 80 innings before the All-Star break could affect him.

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