A sad, short chapter of trading with the Bronx Bombers ends as the Paul Goldschmidt Era begins for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals made some roster announcements today, three days ahead of their breaking camp on Monday. Lefthanded reliever Chasen Shreve, obtained in the Luke Voit deal with the Yankees, has been designated for assignment. Free agent Matt Wieters has won the backup catching assignment over the injury-nagged incumbent, Francisco Pena. And RHP Mike Mayers makes the opening day roster for the second season in a row.
The 32-year old Wieters becomes the third-most All-Star teamed player on the roster, behind Yadier Molina and Paul Goldschmidt, with four appearances; the most recent being in 2016. Wieters is projected for 11 home runs and 44 RBIs. I literally cannot remember the last time a backup Cardinals catcher hit double-digit home runs. But manager Mike Shildt will have to find a way to get his bat in the lineup for that to happen.
Apparently, they have a plan that allows Wieters to pinch hit and trust Yairo Munoz to catch if Yadi gets injured during a game. Why not? But if the bench features Jose Martinez, Jedd Gyorko and Tyler O’Neill, Wieters clearly ranks as the #4 most formidable right-handed power hitter coming off the bench. That doesn’t bode well for at-bats. Unless Yadi would contemplate resting once per week, perish the thought.
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Mayers has to be proud to be joining a bullpen that could turn out to be something of a murderer’s row with Jordan Hicks, Alex Reyes, Carlos Martinez and at least ostensibly Andrew Miller. Mayers also has to be proud to be making the opening day roster for the second year in a row, especially since his first game in the big leagues was a horror show that had just about everybody in Busch Stadium saying to themselves, “I hope I never see this guy again”.
I root for Mayers, for that reason, and also because while at Ole Miss he was the central figure in one of the cutest fan-participation pranks ever.
Shreve being DFA’d caught me by surprise because just yesterday, I was looking at one of those depth chart websites and he seemed to be firmly ensconced in the middle of the bullpen pack. This is the third year in a row that the Cardinals will start the season bereft of lefthanders for some reason I cannot get a finger, left or right, on. Maybe I will develop this theme later this month, depending on what they decide to do about Webb vs. Brebbia.
Personally, I think they would be crazy not to choose John Fulboam Brebbia who has done everything they have asked of him during his 100 innings on the roster, to the tune of 1.6 rWAR and to the tune of winning the eye test of being the only reliever the last two years not to get lit up with some frequency.
Shreve had worn out his welcome in New York and the theory was that his peripherals were solid and that a change of scenery… and fans who were actually nice was all he needed to turn it around and fill the hole from the left side of the pen left by the cratering of Tyler Lyons and Brett “Slim” Cecil. It did not quite work out that way. Although his stats for his 60 days with the Cardinals featured a serviceable 3.07 ERA, his WHIP actually increased to a career-high 1.568.
Spring Training pitching stats are even more suspect than Spring hitting stats in my opinion, however, there was nothing in his 5.00 ERA or 1.667 WHIP over his nine big-league innings pitched in Florida to inspire new confidence in pitching coach Mike Maddux. The bullpen numbers game did not favor him getting a second chance. And even though it meant potentially losing him on the waiver wire, Shreve was let go.
When combined with the kind of spring Giovanny Gallegos, who will be 28 in August, had (9.82 ERA, optioned to AAA on 3/9/19), and Voit had (1.053 OPS), and the projection the latter has for 2019 (15 HRs, 45 RBI in just 262 ABs), saying “Bye bye” to Shreve gives us an occasion to get the long-knives out on a deal that was made just last trading deadline.
Either the Cardinals own internal scouting (which includes everyone in player development, from the bottom to the top) just missed Voit right under their noses, or the Cardinals suffer from some kind of xenophilia, inordinate love for the stranger. Yes, Voit was from St. Louis, but to some people, that means “can’t be any good” or, if you are a GM, “I’ll get criticized for being sentimental for holding on to him for too long.”
Now that there are more “Voit is the toast of Broadway” posts on the internet than you can shake a 38-ounce stick at, my main question is: What was so hard to like about a burly slugger from your home town hitting dingers that we had to ship him off? To New York of all places??
I know, “There was no room for him at first base”. Except when Paul Goldschmidt was signed, then suddenly there was room. And I also heard a lot of, “We do not really want a righthanded power hitter, we want a lefthanded one”. Except when Paul Goldschmidt was signed, suddenly righty-lefty did not matter.
I cannot help but notice the timing … and curse the Yankee Devil Magic. For at the same time we were dumping off a potential slugger over whom we had six years of control we were willing to make somebody the highest-paid player in team history including ones named Albert.
We dumped off a 27-year-old making the league minimum and within six months were paying $144.5 million to someone to play for the team through his 38th birthday. And now the Yankees get that control and the spending freedom. Like they need it.
And the Goldschmidt deal is a good deal for the team in what is probably a depressed market. But nothing beats free (which is what the major league minimum basically is). It is the leverage upon which great franchises are built. It would have been great to have kept Voit around for a bit longer even if he had to fight for playing time or await the advent of DH. Especially when the return was only Gallegos and Shreve.
“Luke Voit is no Paul Goldschmidt!”, I can hear you scream. To this non sequitur, I can only respond: “We better hope he is not”. Signing Goldschmidt today had a preemptive PR effect. Having a Goldy-level player at first base the next six years is about the only thing that could make Cardinal fans stomach watching Home Town Voit have an illustrious career in pinstripes (and playoffs).