Birdinals Bytes: No Motte, No problem?


Feb 13, 2013; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher

Jason Motte

(30) during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Motte will be out indefinitely to start the 2013 season with a strained elbow. Despite his joking in the bullpen today, it is likely according to John Mozeliak that Motte will be on the disabled list for a few weeks. The natural reaction for Cards fans is disappointment. Which is understandable after losing Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal to injuries already this spring. However, is giving Mitchell Boggs and conceivably Trevor Rosenthal the opportunity to close a negative thing? The answer is no, it won’t hurt at all in the long run. But there could be some growing pains in early 2013.

While Jason Motte was a reliable closer in 2011 and most of 2012, the fact is, Boggs and possibly Rosenthal will benefit from Motte’s absence, as will the Cardinals from mixing it up in the ninth inning as they look ahead to forthcoming seasons.

During the late 2012 season as well as the 2012 playoffs, the Motte mystery seemed to be frequently solved by opposing offenses. His blown saves could have also been the result of an extensive and broiling mid-western summer with too much time on the mound, or the before mentioned lack of dominance.

The fact is, Motte’s fastball does not move like Mariano Rivera’s. Actually, it hardly moves at all, which is why Jason Motte was trying additional pitches (and getting shellacked) this spring. The cause of his recent injury could have been the new pitches, or arm wrestling Ty Wigginton.

Both Mitchell Boggs and Trevor Rosenthal both have a slew of pitches to choose from. Boggs will have the first chance to slam doors and show his experience and growth as a reliever (4 saves in 2011, 5 years in STL). If Boggs can’t get the job done, then Trevor Rosenthal will have the opportunity to save games. Rosenthal has the pitches that are tough for batters to figure out. His curveball is equally devastating when compared to his laser-like fastball, plus a cutter and change-up gives Trevor the tools to be relied on. The more experience he gets, the better he will be.

Without Jason Motte concluding games, the Birdinals have the chance to look towards the future. Boggs and Rosenthal don’t need to have a “pitch off” like Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller, since Mike Matheny made it clear that Boggs has the job as of today. Just like the other problems and injuries that the Cardinals have had already, the support is willing and able. It is miraculous that the Cards skipper doesn’t have to hesitate when deciding who will fill in for the vital role of closer. What if Boggs or Rosenthal excels in their new role, then what? It won’t be easy for Motte to outshine the younger guys with only a bigger beard.