Tag Archive | "Jason Motte"

St. Louis Cardinals Announce September Call Ups

The St. Louis Cardinals announced a wave of September call ups today. The additions add depth and bring players with big-league experience back to the major league roster.

Roster Addition Jason Motte

The team has utilized the minor league system throughout the year to move players back and forth and add depth to the big league team. Now that the season is coming to a close for most of the minor league affiliates, the team can bring players to the major league roster.  The team issued a press release, which reads:

ST. LOUIS, Mo., September 2, 2014 – The St. Louis Cardinals announced that they have added five players to their active roster prior to tonight’s game against the Pirates, bringing the number of players on their active roster to 31.

Recalled today from the minors were left-handed pitchers Marco Gonzales, Nick Greenwood and Tyler Lyons and catcher Tony Cruz.  Right-handed reliever Jason Motte (lower back strain) was activated from the 15-day disabled list.

Lyons fanned a career high eight batters in 4.2 innings of relief in Game 1 of last Saturday’s double-header versus Chicago, the most by a Cardinals relief pitcher since 1978.  Gonzales earned his first Major League win in the Cardinals 13-2 win over Chicago in Game 2 of the Saturday twin bill – allowing  just one run and three hits in his 6.0 innings of work.

Greenwood has appeared in 16 games during this, his rookie season, and he has worked multiple innings in 11 of those games while also earning a pair of wins.

Cruz has appeared in 43 games for the Cardinals this season, having already started a career-high 33 games with 299.0 innings caught.

Motte, on the disabled list since August 2, worked a scoreless inning in relief during an injury rehabilitation assignment with Springfield (AA) on Sunday, August 31 at Tulsa.   Motte is 0-0, 4.91 ERA in 24 games with the Cardinals this season.

The additions will allow the starting rotation to find some much needed rest. Cruz will allow the team some flexibility using A.J. Pierzynski as a hitter in late innings. Jason Motte will look to prove that he is ready to pitch at a high-level again.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com.
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Timing Is Everything For Martinez, Kelly

Mike Matheny rounded out the only major “competition” that they had taking place in camp this year, by naming Joe Kelly the fifth starter going into the season and sending Carlos Martinez to the bullpen where he will resume the late inning work that solidified his place with the club last October. And despite Martinez’s clearly superior spring as a starter, it was ultimately the best move for the team.

Carlos_Martinez_ST

In many regards, it was never really a competition that was meant to favor Martinez, and that is not a bad thing. Martinez proved that he had grown as a pitcher, showing everything imaginable that could be asked of him to make the rotation if all things were created equal. Across four starts, he surrendered only three runs in 15 innings, including a one-run, 5.1 inning outing against the Twins last week. While his raw arm strength has never been in question, he proved that he can maintain it over extended innings with solid control and an expanded secondary arsenal to create outs. Basically, he proved that he can pitch, over just blow away batters in a short time span, has he did last October, when he struck out 11 in just over 12 innings pitched over three rounds.

Conversely, Kelly’s numbers have not been as impressive (7.71 ERA, six strikeouts to four walks in just over nine innings before yesterday’s 5+ innings of no-hit ball versus Houston), but it is not as much about outcome for him, as he has proven himself capable of holding a rotation spot in parts of the past two years. However, once Jaime Garcia went down with a continuation of the shoulder injury that has hampered him for nearly year it became more of a showcase chance for Martinez versus a chance to solidify his position for Kelly.

And both of those ends were achieved, despite it being packaged as a race for a rotation spot. The reason being that the most useful place for Martinez to be is at the end of the bullpen, due to the overhaul of late-game options. Gone are Edward Mujica and John Axford, whom despite playing lesser roles than Martinez last fall, represented the only experienced options in either the eighth or ninth inning on the club. Likewise, Jason Motte will not be ready for Opening Day, which left a glaring need in the bridge to the ninth inning that only Martinez could adequately fill. As Trevor Rosenthal proved last year, taking a role outside of the rotation—even for a career starter—can create a major strength for the team, as it shortens the window to hang in with the Cardinals before the organization’s two liveliest arms take over for the final six outs.

On the other side of the coin, Kelly fits the bill best for the rotation. A versatile option with 35 career starts under his belt (including the postseason), he is just a few months removed from being an integral part of the rotation down the stretch last year and has proved his starting chops. Despite the strong showing from Martinez, it is a situation where “rocking the boat” is not necessary. Kelly is better than a fifth option for a great deal of other teams and is a matchup asset in the role, the same way that Martinez is in the bullpen currently.

As all things are, this will continue to be a fluid situation. The returns on each as the season progresses will indicate how each continues in the roles they have been assigned currently, as will the dominoes of potential comebacks from Motte and Garcia and how that could alter the staff’s pitching alignment.

But one thing that is for certain, the versatile Cardinal staff continues to find beneficial roles to actively use the surplus of pitching wealth that it has at its disposal. And if history is any indicator of what is to come, as it always is, having options is never a bad thing.

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Should The Cardinals Go Holiday Shopping?

The baseball week will be dominated by the annual Winter Meetings, which bring together a marriage of front offices, agents, players and media types that usually is the base of operations for player movement and acquisitions for the year. However, unlike any other year, teams have been active in addressing their needs very early, with many clubs having already addressed the majority of their major needs.

Axford_

Among the top tier of teams, the Cardinals have perhaps most comprehensively addressed their major needs already. John Mozeliak has stated in multiple ways in the last month that he feels the team is nearly in Opening Day shape as is. However, is there more that they could stand to do to be ready for the spring? And would walking away from Orlando with a new Cardinal be in the best interest of security for the year to come?

The additions of Jhonny Peralta and Peter Bourjos decisively addressed the club’s clearest everyday issues, and subsequently provided depth via the parts in place as well. Also, the team elected to not resign any of its free agents, instead replacing them with the new additions and promotions within. When the decision to not tender John Axford a contract was made last week, Mozeliak stated that he did not anticipate the club adding another reliever, and that he “did not see where one would fit”.

This places the emphasis of the club’s pitching depth onto the internal options that guided it last year, which is a solid logic, and with the excess of starting options (which currently sits at a robust eight for the five man rotation), it is also one that is made from necessity. However, if last year proved anything, it is that the best laid plans can often not come to fruition as intended. The early season loss of Jason Motte rocked the balance of the bullpen, and steadying it took the better part of a quarter of the season. The team was fortunate in that so many of its minor league arms were ready to contribute immediately and in high leverage situations.

Yet, can lightning strike twice there? If there is any regression in year two, would having another veteran option could provide a smart investment. The return of Motte is seemingly assured from a calendar respect; however what his immediate effectiveness will be an unknown quantity. Likewise, despite a promising October run in the setup role, can Carlos Martinez maintain that throughout a full-year? And if he performs at a level that earns him a place in the starting rotation, what then? There could be an immediate need at the back end of the bullpen that does not have a clear answer, especially with the promotion of Trevor Rosenthal out of the eighth inning, where he had 29 holds in 2013, and into the closer role full time.

The great strength of the Cardinal organization is its young pitching depth. But there is still a place for a known quantity within the mix as well, similar to what Randy Choate represented a year ago. And with the free agent swap meet of the upcoming week pending, there could be plethora of mid-to-late game bullpen options that could provide that needed security in an exact role. Veterans in the mold of Matt Albers, Brandon Lyons or even Carlos Marmol represent likely low cost/short term security options that can come to Spring Training and to see where they could fit into the ever-evolving pitching scene. If they fit, they provide that needed backup, but if they don’t, the cutting the team’s losses is not a detrimental problem either.

At this point, the club is in finishing touches mode, which is encouraging. However, resting too exclusively on the laurels of a talented mix that still has more to prove exclusively could be questionable approach to take for a season where the next step for the franchise is so clearly defined.

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Cardinals Spring Training Pics From InsideSTL

Our friends over at InsideSTL spent last week hanging out at a picnic table, and eventually under a tent, in Jupiter, Florida and talking with any Cardinal players that came by and were willing to sit down for a few minutes.

What resulted were some great candid shots of the guys as well as a very candid interview with Adam Wainwright about his contract situation.

The images below were posted to their website and are being shared here with their permission.

Carlos Beltran

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Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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