The Cardinals put a bow on a trade that set the team up for a run in 2011 and potentially a strong future. In the meantime, the team has added four players to the major league roster, three of which made their Cardinal debuts on Thursday night.
The team added two bullpen arms, a starting pitcher, and a veteran outfielder that projects to see playing time in left and center field. I-70 takes a deeper look at who these players are…
Octavio Dotel, Relief Pitcher
Dotel joins the club as the type of pitcher that Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan seem to thrive on. A veteran pitcher from the Dominican Republic who is 37 years old and has spent time on 11 major league rosters before his move to St. Louis, Dotel has been a starter, reliever and even a closer for various franchises. Most recently, Dotel has spent his time completely out of the bullpen having not made a start since 2001. A player that can project to be an inning eater reliever, he will most likely see time late in games serving as a setup type reliever and helping shorten games for the starting staff. Cardinal fans can expect to see Dotel late in games in pressure situations, helping to get the game from the starting pitchers to the closer.
Dotel can be streaky and has been an up-and-down pitcher from time to time, but he tends to stay consistently around a high three to low four earned run average, 30-60 innings pitched, and 10 strikeouts per nine innings over the last few years. He may be advanced in age, but he still has a live arm that can be dominant and is a smart pitcher overall.
Edwin Jackson, Starting Pitcher
Many experts seem to focus on Jackson as the centerpiece of this deal. The young right-hander appears to be on the Mike Morgan plan as he joins his seventh team at twenty-seven years old. Statistically speaking, Jackson is the most promising player that can have a major impact on the Cardinals this season. With a sub 4 earned run average, 97 strikeouts over 121 innings, has only walked 39 hitters and is scouted as a ground ball pitcher. Jackson is the type of pitcher that usually benefits from the tutelage of Dave Duncan. Ground ball pitchers who have played for multiple teams and are open to making adjustments can find an improvement in St. Louis. An improvement over what he has been doing would land him as a number two or three starter on most teams.
The side note on Jackson might be the possibility of a contract extension to keep him in St. Louis for the future instead of the rental player many are projecting him to be. Many times in the past, including last year’s Jake Westbrook acquisition, the Cardinals have brought a player to the city for the end of the season to judge to possibility of keeping him here for much longer. Jackson is represented by Scott Boras which would suggest that he will at least test the free agent market, but the team has a good history with the super agent and John Mozeliak will not be afraid to approach him if the team sees a strong fit. Time will tell whether Jackson is here for a few months or here for a long term.
Corey Patterson, Outfielder
One of the last names to surface as the deal became public, Corey Patterson seemed to continue the theme of “journeyman veterans” joining the Cardinals in the trade. Patterson joins his eighth team in his major league career at the age of 32 (he will turn 33 in less than a month). A speedy outfielder that is a plus defender in his career, he has found a home on teams recently as a fourth outfielder and a strong presence on the bench. Cardinal fans will see a similarity with last year’s veteran Randy Winn, both good and bad.
The important note on Patterson is for fans to remember that he is, in fact, a rental player that will most likely only be here for the remainder of the 2011 season and he is not the outfielder that will be assuming the Colby Rasmus playing time. Patterson will see time in the field, both off the bench and in a starting role, but Jon Jay stands to benefit the most from the starting centerfielder leaving. In addition, Patterson can be a positive in the running game, should the Cardinals choose to try to employ it a bit more frequently. The team has been a station to station team most of the season, adding a proven stolen base man could help add a new dimension to the strategy of the game.
Marc Rzepczynski, Relief Pitcher
The piece to the deal that was possibly the most attractive to the St. Louis Cardinals was pitcher Marc Rzepczynski. Affectionately known as “Scrabble” to his teammates, Rzepczynski is a piece the Cardinals bullpen has been missing for some time now. A left handed reliever that is extremely tough on left handed hitters, Rzepczynski has held lefties to a minimal .157 batting average and only three extra base hits over 79 plate appearances. Most attractive to the team, however, is that he is not just a lefty specialist. Right handed hitters are only posting a .237 average against him with a bit more success at power numbers.
All of that shows what Rzepczynski is capable of right now. Lost in those numbers are the facts that Rzepczynski is 25 years old, under team control through 2015 and spent his minor league career and the first few years of his major league career as a starting pitcher with mediocre results. The Cardinals see a pitcher that is still maturing, has not found his full identity at the major league level, and has a very live arm overall. The team knows that Rzepczynski has a bright future and it was his arm and ability that made the Cardinals part with Rasmus overall.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
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