When word broke a few days ago that reliever Arthur Rhodes was released by the Texas Rangers, Cardinal fans everywhere wondered if the team would take a flier on the pitcher that as recently as last year was pitching for division rival Cincinnati. While it appeared that John Mozeliak would let this veteran pass, the Cardinals watched as recently dominant Lance Lynn leave a ball game with an oblique strain that may put him on the sidelines for the remainder of the 2011 season.
That was all it took for the Cardinals management. Lynn would go down on a day that Allen Craig would be activated and the roster would shift to a heavier bench for the first time in quite a while. Fans and pundits would wonder if the Cardinals would replace Lynn and on Thursday night, they found out just how the team would do it.
Arthur Lee Rhodes, all 41 years old, six-foot two-inch, 220 pounds of left handed pitcher, is on his way to join the team for this weekend’s series with the Colorado Rockies. He fits the Tony LaRussa/Dave Duncan mold of a veteran pitcher that has played for multiple organizations looking to catch on with a contending ball club.
Rhodes was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the second round of the 1988 draft. Three years later, he found his way onto the major league roster and would be used as a starter until 1994. By 1995 he was working primarily out of the bullpen and by 1997 his role on any pitching staff would be that of a relief pitcher. He would stay with Baltimore until the turn of the century, joining the Seattle Mariners in 2000. It was in Seattle that he would establish himself as a solid relief pitcher and someone that could be counted on for 66+ appearances a year. From Seattle in 2003, he would sign a contract to join the Oakland A’s. Oakland would trade him during the off-season the following year to Pittsburgh who would flip him to Cleveland before he ever wore a jersey for the Pirates. After a season in Cleveland, Rhodes would find himself traded to Philadelphia in January of 2006. A one year contract with the Mariners would not mean much as Rhodes spent all of 2007 injured before signing a new deal to return to the Mariners once again in 2008, just to see them trade him to the Florida Marlins before the season was over with. Two productive years in Cincinnati and half a season in Texas has led Rhodes to the Gateway City and the St. Louis Cardinals, his tenth franchise (including Pittsburgh) in his 20th season in Major League Baseball.
He is a left handed specialist and will allow Marc Rzepczynski to be used in various situations and not just in a typical lefty/lefty matchup. The team will need to make a corresponding move with both the 25-man, major league roster as well as the 40-man roster. That move is anticipated to be announced very close to game time on Friday.
Rhodes has struggled at times this year, evident by his release. However, he was used in standard relief and called upon to face hitters on both sides of the plate. It is projected in St. Louis he will not be asked to do that. We can see his performance in Texas this year by looking at the following table, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
|vs RHB as LHP||27||63||60||11||20||6||0||4||3||8||2.67||.333||.365||.633||.998|
|vs LHB as LHP||28||42||37||5||8||1||0||2||5||7||1.40||.216||.310||.405||.715|
Should Rhodes continue to pitch well against left handed hitters, and nothing suggests he will not, he will be a welcome addition to the Cardinals’ bullpen. If he is used in situations where he will face right handed hitters, then we may see some frustration from fans when his number is called.
Cardinal fans can rest easy when it comes to Rhodes. After all, he does not write poetry.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
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