No Long Relief for the DL

by on May 31, 2011 · 3 comments

Hellooo, TLR!  Is this thing even on?  Has anybody besides me noticed that Matt Holliday hasn’t exactly been pounding the ball since going 3/5 on May 13th against the Reds?  Since that day, he’s gone 4/31 and dropped his batting average from .398 to .344.  A hitting slump alone isn’t cause for concern, especially when the hitter in question was already batting near .400.  The real issue is the 8 day period during which Holliday was basically on the bench or ineffectual due to injury. 

Why wasn’t he on the disabled list?  It’s not like the Cardinals didn’t have an able-bodied substitute for a couple weeks.  It’s not like Holliday doesn’t represent a huge investment worth protecting.  So, Holliday returns on the 8th day and looks pretty rough just running down the first base line.  Nice.  Just consider these two lines for the season:

  • .284 / .388 / .453 / .841 in 51 games
  • .343 / .405 / .505 / .910 in 53 games

One of those lines belongs to Colby Rasmus, and the other one belongs to Jon Jay.  One guy is the starting CF, and the other is the “4th outfielder”.  You guessed it.  The 2nd line belongs to Jay.  Not a bad substitute for Holliday in LF, is he?  So, why not sit Holliday for an extra week to give his leg/quad/groinstring a bit more time to heal?  I’m not sure, but it probably falls along the same line of logic as sending Mitchell Boggs down to have him start a few games.

Speaking of Boggs, I’m not sure what he did to earn TLR’s seal of disapproval, but it must have been bad.  Cardinal fans were treated to a lot of propaganda about how Miguel Batista could do everything.  He was supposedly the Swiss army knife of pitchers.  He could spot start, pitch long relief, close, sing the national anthem, and even catch his own pitches in a pinch.  I’m unconvinced.  It looks to me like the organization is sacrificing Boggs to cover up a flaw in their own team design.  It doesn’t look like they really do have a “6th starter” after all, so Boggs is the guy being asked to switch.  In the unlikely event of a water landing, he’s the flotation device.  I guess that’s better than forcing Jaime Garcia to blow up his ERA when he’s throwing big, fluffy darts, but it sure makes me wonder about how much homework the team did on Batista.  I have a better idea, though.  Drop the useless ballast that is Ryan Franklin, and use an actual long reliever as a long reliever.  Crazy, huh?  It’s just so crazy that it just might work. 

TIDBIT:  Maybe I’m delusional, but I can almost envision a starting infield of David Freese, Ryan Theriot, Daniel Descalso / Allen Craig, Albert Pujols next season.  I could even see Theriot removed from the mix due to financial considerations, and I could see Descalso at SS where he would split time with Tyler Greene.  Almighty dollar indeed.

MORE BITS OF TID:  If Holliday’s injury lingers for even part of the season, the problem can be traced back to late May.  There was no logical reason not to give it proper time to heal, especially given the need to have him healthy later in the year.  He’s a closer, and he can end the season on a hot streak.  Why take a chance that he’s not even available?

Follow gr33nazn on Twitter for more seals of disapproval!

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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Bill Ruby May 31, 2011

Regarding Ryan Franklin, here’s an idea. Since he is owed approximately $2.1 million over the course of the rest of the season….and because the Cardinals have recently been on the wrong side of a blowout loss at least once a week……and because Franklin seems to be filling a role in saving the rest of the bullpen in throwing himself on a grenade in those blowout losses (including no runs allowed in his last two appearances)……

Why should the Cardinals be wasteful money-wise and short-sighted by cutting Franklin only to pay him to pitch for someone else, while having to pay someone else in his roster spot? Especially with P.J. Walters being recently dropped from the 40-man roster, there doesn’t seem to be a suitable “long reliever” on the 40-man, nor is there one on the current waiver wire. And the Cardinals are not likely to use anything of value to trade for someone another team doesn’t want, because of the distinct possibility that whoever they obtain for middle relief by trade or waivers might be worse than what they already have on hand.

The Cardinals are also not going to stagnate the development of young starting pitchers at AAA like Lance Lynn.

Therefore, Boggs’ temporary demotion only makes more sense, not only in light of recent comments by Dave Duncan that Boggs needed to get better command of his breaking ball and work on his change. At worst, if on the Cardinal starting pitchers goes down with an injury, stretching out Boggs’ arm might make him better prepared for a starting role. At the very least, if Boggs comes back to St. Louis later this season with better command of his pitches and is better prepared to long-relieve or spot-start, the Cardinals benefit from the versatility.

Meanwhile, both Batista and Franklin remain on the bubble, and will have to press harder to keep their jobs as Brian Augenstein will soon enter his rehab, and as Boggs readies himself in time for a return to the majors.

Seems t me the Cardinals are making smart use of their current personnel while they wait for a couple of key arms to be ready to return.

Dennis May 31, 2011

Bill, I was really on the same thinking track as you are up until recently, and a close look at Franklin’s game log changed my mind. He’s only managed to go 3 innings once this season, and that was the only time I’d say that he took one for the team (4 ER in 3 innings). The rest of the time he’s been just average, and his last 2 outings were on long rest (6 and 8 days respectively). How useful is he really, if he needs long rest AND can’t be stretched out for long relief? Besides, Franklin reportedly has his eye on getting his old job back. At 13.5 H/9, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

As for Boggs, he’s not exactly making great strides toward becoming a starter. He’s started 2 games and pitched 5 1/3 total innings. He could pitch just as much by working from the Memphis pen. Heck, he could probably get just as much time in by working from the Stl bullpen. If he really does need to work on his breaking ball and change, then why not work with Dave Duncan instead of with the folks at Memphis?

am June 1, 2011

Maybe another team asked to see if Boggs could be stretched out because of interest? (Shrugs)

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