St. Louis Cardinals: Don’t count Brett Cecil out just yet
By Matt Graves
Brett Cecil might be on the hot seat, but the reliever shouldn’t be counted out as a possible valuable addition to the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen.
There may not be a name on the St. Louis Cardinals roster that catches more hate than Brett Cecil. After signing his four-year, $30.5M contract before the 2017 season, Cecil had a good year before injuries derailed his past two seasons.
In that 2017 season, Cecil pitched in 73 games and had an excellent FIP of 3.26 which made his 3.88 ERA seem unlucky. Cecil was 9% above average in 2017 which was a step down from the four years he had before with the Blue Jays, but he still was worth the money was being paid as the primary lefty out of the Cardinals’ bullpen.
In 2018, Cecil more or less began the season on the DL, then after being activated on May 11, put together a 5.79 ERA between then and the end of July when he was placed on the DL again with right foot inflammation for two weeks. After this second stint on the DL Cecil’s middling season continued until the end of the year.
In all, Cecil finished 2018 with a 6.89 ERA and was immediately public enemy number one in the bullpen. 2019 wasn’t much better as Cecil came into spring training down a lot of weight and it actually hurt his mechanics to the point where he had to stop his pitching to fix some things.
Cecil started 2019 on the IL and never ended up pitching in a game after Carpal Tunnel surgery stopped his progress. It was another lost year for a guy who fans already wanted off the roster and the hate towards him continued.
For myself, I would’ve been fine had the Cardinals decided to cut Cecil this offseason, but the fact that they didn’t was no surprise. Earlier this winter, I wrote that this spring should be Cecil’s last chance and I still hold that view.
St. Louis Cardinals: Spring Training should be Brett Cecil’s last chance
One of John Mozeliak's blunders was the Brett Cecil signing. With one year left, Spring Training should be his last chance with the St. Louis Cardinals.
However, as spring training starts to ramp up, we finally have a good report about how Cecil is feeling coming into camp.
As Brenden Schaeffer reports, Cecil may have had a nice reset after taking the whole year off. Spring training is notorious for each player coming in “in the best shape of their lives,” so all of this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but Cecil shouldn’t be counted out yet.
He will have plenty of competition though.
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While the new 26-man roster helps Cecil’s chances (as well as his salary), the Cardinals are coming into spring with more left-handed arms than they’ve had in a while. Starting with Cecil, the Cardinals have Andrew Miller, Tyler Webb, Genesis Cabrera, Rob Kaminsky, Kwang-Hyun Kim, Austin Gomber, and Ricardo Sanchez all in camp vying for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Given the past actions of how the Cardinals have handled injury-prone (and well paid) veterans in the past, Cecil will be on the final roster if he’s healthy, but it won’t be such an easy decision like it has been in year’s past.
It’s easy for fans to write off a player because of recent performances, but I would not count Cecil out yet. He’s just two years removed from being a very solid reliever and if he’s coming into camp truly healthy, he could easily be an early-inning option for 2020 in his final season before his contract runs out.