Did the Cardinals make some minor league moves on 11/19/18 as to not repeat the bullpen struggles of 2018? ICYMI the Cardinals acquired RH SP Williams Perez RH SP Mike Hauschild LH RP Hunter Cervenka C Joe Hudson in addition to resigning previous Cardinal minor leaguers Memphis 1B Rangel Ravelo and Palm Beach C Jose Godoy who all received spring training invites. Add to that mostly SP Harold Arauz and resigning Palm Beach RH RP Ramon Santos( not invited to Spring training). Previously announced last week was the resigning of Memphis LH RP Tommy Layne as well with a spring training invite for him.
Before I dive into the pitching moves, the signing of a potential AAA catcher made me think why. It seemed logical that Andrew Knizner had the Memphis job and that Arizona Fall League participant Jeremy Martinez would get his fair share of starts behind Knizner. Jose Godoy looked set to move up to AA, other able catchers in Dennis Ortega, Brian O’Keefe’ Julio Rodriguez were moving up along with my longshot promotion pick to jump Ivan Herrera to A ball from the Gulf Coast League.
Not to start rumors but maybe the Cardinals are not all that certain on Carson Kelly is the future. Is picking up Hudson hedging that bet a little bit. Hudson does have 8 games of MLB experience with the Angels in 2018 and a solid AAA season. Insurance if Kelly under performs? Insurance if Kelly is traded? Or just someone to mentor and spell Knizner? My guess it is just the latter option and would let Knizner work at Memphis pressure free. Time will tell.
On to the pitching. My first thought was: What are we doing signing that many pitchers? Other thoughts on social media were: There go the Yankees making real moves and trading for Paxton while our front office goes dumpster diving and picking up pieces off the scrap heap (too cheap). I felt that way as well. We have 22 pitchers currently on the 40 man MLB roster, 10 on the Memphis roster with 3 or 4 of those being nearly MLB ready, to go with 10 pitchers on the AA Springfield roster. I had to find a reason why that we were not just dumpster diving.
Without boring everyone with long lines of stats, you can click the player names above to dive into that if you like, I believe there is a purpose behind the moves. There has to be some major changes coming to this pitching staff. It would lead me to believe that we may be dangling some prospect starters as trades. Perez, Hauschild, Cervenka, and Layne all have MLB experience. To be honest I am not sure why we did not use the lefty Layne in StL last year. Perez had 31 starts for the Braves in 2015-16. The lefty Cervenka KOd 117 in 97 innings last year at AAA. Sure most of these guys are beyond 27 or older but I believe they are great depth for the minors. As I try to predict the 12 pitchers to head north in 2019 based on the current roster and contracts, the last couple of spots still have names like Brebbia,Hudson,Gant,Reyes,Weaver, PonceDeleon, and Mayers all hoping they get those last 2-3 spots. Not to mention guys like Gallegos,Cabrera,Hesley,Herget and others waiting in the wings. Am I against signing a big name starter or left handed reliever to this club? The answer is no, but it has to be addition by subtraction now for sure.
If Cecil, Gregerson, Leone, and the replacement for the departed Greg Holland pitch like they did in 2018, I hope they get shown the door. And we just might be thankful we have the scrap heap pieces in the minors to backfill or contribute and bring up the youngsters to avoid bullpen Déjà vu in 2019.
Thanks for reading and I also update our minor league players progress in the Fall and Winter leagues at St. Louis Cardinal Minor League Spotlight on Facebook and share on the Cardinal Nation 24/7 group. On twitter as well Jeff Schrader @StlCardsMinor