Once the Cardinals found TLR’s replacement, the real mission for the next few months finally began. Building the 2012 roster will in a large part be determined by how a certain first base option chooses where to sign.
Not to say the rest of the 40 man roster isn’t just as important, but the truth is many smaller deals may go unnoticed now that could pay off next summer. The first of these key dates is scheduled for December 8th, and St. Louis took a chance earlier today on three potential bullpen additions.
Per Matthew Leach’s scoop, the surprising move isn’t who was added to the roster and thus no longer available at the Rule 5 Draft. The Cardinals decided 2nd round pick David Kopp was not a prospect any longer, and he should be plucked fairly high by another team.
This is another strong indication that a change has occurred at the top of the minor league hierarchy. The trio added to the roster are known for different things, but each has one thing in common — success missing bats which is really all that matters.
Kopp may have started to figure it out towards the end of this past season, but one thing both Memphis and Springfield own is depth from the right-hand side out of the pen. Beginning to separate the top tier of arms needs to be job one as the Matheny era begins.
Whether or not the performance at the AFL had any bearing, Kopp has fallen out of favor and needs a fresh start. On the other hand, another former high draft pick found his groove and will get another shot at earning a place on the St. Louis staff.
A cup of coffee and injury problems derailed Adam Ottavino’s attempt of using 2010 to springboard his blossoming career. The Cardinals used a 1st round pick in 2006 in hopes that they had found another Carpenter from the same part of the country. Let’s all congratulate Ott on at least having the same stubborn will and never giving up his dream.
The well-documented trouble found St. Louis dropping Ottavino from the roster a year ago tomorrow. He used this season to rebuild his arm and status in the organization by holding down a rotation slot at Memphis. With the Redbirds also bringing in a new manager, the soon-to-be 26 year old offers protection and potential advice for Shelby Miller, who is slated to make the jump to AAA.
While keeping continuity may not be an issue for most positions, one area of concern for the Cardinals has been left-handed relief. That makes the first-time addition of Samuel Freeman even greater given he could be called upon in April or even earlier for the big league club.
Freeman topped out for the AA SCards in 2009 and appeared on his way to getting a shot before losing a season to TJ surgery. He rebounded for Pop Warner’s squad this summer and may find himself reunited with his manager in Memphis. Depending on how the front office addresses the need for a LOOGY this winter, Freeman offers one very cheap alternative should the need arise.
Rounding out the group may be the most unlikely pick, but he also had the strongest say in getting noticed.
Chuckie Fick not only had an impressive year at Memphis, but he greatly benefited from a full-time role in the bullpen. Steadily moving up the charts, Fick provided solid work while keeping the ball in the park. He gave up only two home runs out of the 44 hits allowed during his 54 outings for new first base coach Chris Maloney. That covered 70 innings of work, not an easy task and one that should be rewarded with a long look next March.
While none of these three may provide more than a footnote, all it takes is one look at Lance Lynn to know that opportunity is the name of the game under the Arch.