oh , sweet manna from writer's block heaven! please, please let the cardinals continue to make moves of . . . well, maybe not earthshattering import, but at least of interest on friday afternoon/evenings!
the club last night put the finishing touches on the 40-man roster in advanceof the midnight deadline. stavinoha, daryl jones, adam ottavino, and steve hill got booted off. arizona fall league hero tony cruz and blake king were added.
i think each move makes sense in its own right.
first off, the demotion of nick stavinoha is a happy event. nick was first promoted in 2008 on the basis of good offensive numbers in aaa. behind a good slugging percentage were some signs of a one-dimensional player whose skills would not translate well to the majors, however. nick had, for instance, a poor walk rate. even at the time of his promotion he was getting old for aaa. he is now 28. older players like that sometimes show an inflated slugging percentage that will not translate to the majors.
nick's other big problem was defensive. nick was really an okay 1b who got stuck in the outfield corners without really being good enough to field there (or, for that matter, hit there). in one somewhat inspired moment of wishful thinking, someone thought to try to teach him to catch. the experiment did not pan out. he rarely caught in the minors. i don't believe he caught even an inning of an mlb game. sometime this season, the team spoke of maybe putting nick at third after freese's injury. that should have been grounds to drug test the whole coaching staff. it would be easier to list the players on the team who were less qualified to play third than nick was. saner or soberer heads prevailed, and nick did not see time at third in 2011. at this age, nick doesn't have much chance of improvement. he seems to be a sub-replacement value outfielder, on a club with lots of outfielders. the only argument for his continued presence on the roster was that he - with craig - was one of a very few right handed of options. your handedness doesn't matter much when you can't hit from either side, though. nick's demotion is a healthy sign for the club.
another offense-first player who dabbled at catcher, steve hill had somewhat more success. however, almost no one seems to think he can be a starting or backup catcher. more realistically, he could be a 1b/left fielder who happens to be an emergency catcher. steve hill would make some sense for a club like the phillies who have a leftie 1b with a big platoon split. the phils will likely never platoon their $25m man, but they should. hill would be a good low-cost matt stairs who could, as a third emergencycatcher, make a manager feel a little bit more comfortable in pinch hitting his backup catcher. hill could be an interesting player to an al team or to an nl team that could find a place on the diamond to play him. it seems like a long-shot that he'd get picked in the rule 5 draft. moreover, it's not clear he has a long-term role with the cardinals. risking losing him is just not a big risk to us.
adam ottavino is a very interesting player. he began to sort things out just before his injury. if he rebounds from injury, he could be a decent bullpen, or even rotation piece. still, his injury will likely scare any suitors away.
i am not yet ready to give up on daryl jones, but it's very hard to see anyone taking him in the draft and keeping him, the year after he was the fourth or fifth best outfielder in springfield. moving him off the roster seems like a safe gesture.
tony cruz was moved onto the 40-man, which makes me feel better. after the bigger move onto the roster last week, cruz's name was the one i was missing (count me marginally nervous about tommy pham). i keep thinking cruz is really going to surprise the org - and he's doing it now in surprise, az - and become a real catching prospect. i hope he keeps it up in 2011.
blake king had a good 2010, but i am not yet on the king bandwagon. there are worse people to protect, but he may be next year's tyler norrick, too. he still seems much more fringy a prospect than, say, reifer. relievers deal in such small sample sizes, even a full minor league season has a ton of noise in it.
still, the club pruned a lot of dead wood from the roster. the moves on the whole are much better than other pre-deadline moves. paying at a reasonable rate for westbrook, and carrying a roster with no pagnozzi, stavinoha, or shane robinson into the draft reaffirms that we are not completely asleep at the wheel.
the bad news is, of course, that we are saving those four open roster spots for aaron miles, willie bloomquist, randy flores, and kelly stinnett. i keed, i keed! maybe.