What I dislike the most about Mitchell Boggs's demotion and un-repurposing is that I've spent the last year and a half, now, talking about how great a call it was to move him to the bullpen—how he was the prototypical rotation-to-bullpen guy, even without mentioning the striking similarities between his minor league career and Joe Nathan's.
To show for all that, I have a serious jump in velocity—the unreal slider from his initial conversion in 2009 never really reached its promised heights—and 87 pretty decent innings out of the bullpen.
I understand the move, I really do. A starter is inherently more valuable than a reliever, and once you see a guy pitch 87 decent Major League innings the causal relationship between his terrible minor league results and his position in the minor league rotation tends to vanish entirely in the emotional calculus of the decision. (You're telling me Kyle McClellan can't start? After we moved him to the bullpen he had an ERA of 3.23! In the Major Leagues!)
But Boggs himself still strikes me as an ideal candidate for bullpen conversion. For one thing, the current bullpen has two pitchers in it who are far, far worse than he is, and while I'd never campaign for a 13-man staff the current one looks a little more like a 10-manstaff with two position players stowed away in case of a blowout.
And the Mitchell Boggs the Cardinals spent in pursuit of Closer-Boggs was not exactly brimming with potential. He made 35 starts at AAA Memphis—at 24 and 25, with a full season behind him at each level—and showed off a middling strikeout rate and a walk rate that doesn't go well with a middling strikeout rate. His main skill as a starter is looking like a starter. (The Cardinals will also have to find something to do with Brian Broderick, returned yesterday by the Nationals after a Rule 5 internship, who at 6'6" looks even more like a starter and at 89 mph and five strikeouts per nine in AA looks even more like a reliever.)
(Meanwhile, Adam Ottavino remains in the AAA rotation, so far as I can tell. Ottavino has a bad shoulder, nice strikeout numbers, poor control, a great fastball/slider combo, and an intermittent problem with home runs; he looks even more like reliever than Mitchell Boggs. If I had to fashion a bullpen entirely out of organizational starting pitchers who I wouldn't mind seeing in the bullpen, it would look like this:
LOOGY 1: Raul Valdes
LOOGY 2: P.J. Walters (all screwball-change, all the time)
Middle: David Kopp
Middle: Joe Kelly
Setup: Adam Ottavino
Setup: Maikel Cleto
Closer: Mitchell Boggs (this bullpen was much worse yesterday morning.)
Kelly was a tough call—I almost switched him out for Deryk Hooker—but I'm worried enough about his walk rate and his age to move him into the bullpen in a completely meaningless hypothetical exercise.
Baseball Nation, our—not sister-site, maybe uncle-site?—just put out a power rankings based on each team's most annoying player to other fans. Tony La Russa managed to pilot the Cardinals to a seventh-place finish, but I was surprised to see that Grant Brisbee needed to resort to selecting The Genius for this list when the Cardinals are in possession of Chris Carpenter, who, for me, has gradually become that really cool friend who's great at work and fun to be around but occasionally starts screaming at your waitress or the guy working the counter at Laser Tag.
I like Chris Carpenter a lot, but to fans of other teams he must just be that annoying 36-year-old man with the zodiac tattoo they sometimes see screaming at the guy working the counter at Laser Tag.
For my own NL Central list I don't want to use the word "annoying" because that makes it sound like these players have done something to deserve it. Some of them might have, but odds are just as good that I am having a persistent and irrational response to something they do, say, because they really like their wife and kids.
Chicago Cubs: My aggravation during Carlos Zambrano starts has grown stale and kind of receded into the general aggravation I feel when the Cardinals play the Cubs. So far as I can tell, this one is vacant.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Aramis Ramirez! Kenny Lofton and Ramirez for Jose Hernandez and Bobby Hill? This trade was so obviously terrible that the only reasonable explanation for it is spite, deeply personal spite. Eight years later I don't know what I did to deserve it.
Milwaukee Brewers: I've got to admit it: I'm just not annoyed by Ryan Braun, and the shirt-untucking thing never bothered me. With those two avenues for irrational response exhausted I have to give this award to Yuniesky Betancourt, who continues to get MLB starting jobs for reasons that will never be apparent to anyone who doesn't have the power to offer him those jobs.
Cincinnati Reds: Brandon Phillips's turn from legitimately annoying, blind-to-his-own-failings baseball player to the social media equivalent of the late Randy Savage in one of his heel phases causes him to forfeit this one to Johnny Cueto, who broke one of the golden rules of professional wrestling when his dropkick actually injured Jason LaRue.