Yesterday: I suggested Brandon Dickson and Chuckie Fick were superfluous in the Cardinals' bullpen. Yesterday afternoon: Brandon Dickson and Chuckie Fick were optioned. Now that it's clear I have power over the fringes of the St. Louis Cardinals' 25-man roster I'd like to insist that this team is sunk, flat ruined unless they trade Shane Robinson, Tony Cruz, and your least-favorite near-prospect for Rick Ankiel, who would then become the fourth outfielder and second LOOGY.
I'm headed, with girlfriendup, to Osaka in the morning, in part to watch Evan MacLane's Orix Buffaloes play baseball in this thing, so my time is limited here. Some bullet points of note:
1. I love the Maikel Cleto call-up, and I don't understand the Sam Freeman call-up. Cleto makes perfect sense for Dickson's spot in this bullpen; he can go multiple innings, if his job is to mop up a sure win or loss, but his high-90s-fastball/slider combo puts him in a position to compete for high-leverage innings if he gets off to a good start while others are still scuffling.
As for Freeman, the Cardinals have seemed strangely fond of him since before he missed the 2010 season, but his numbers aren't especially impressive. (Apparently he's a great athlete, so he could be auditioning for Kyle Lohse's job in the outfield.) The Cardinals have auditioned seemingly every unemployed LOOGY in America in Memphis and come up empty, with veterans R.J. Swindle and Clay Zavada each struggling in turn, so I guess we might have just been underestimating their desire to replace J.C. Romero with another left-handed pitcher.
Of course, I'd rather have the guy who had a 2.28 ERA over 75 Major League innings last year. That's probably coloring my impression of Freeman.
2. There's a potential Luke Gregerson Award-winner on the horizon: Alex Castellanos, the near-prospect the Cardinals traded to the Dodgers for Rafael Furcal, has been called up to replace Matt Kemp on the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster. Maybe Tony La Russa was slipping in his crazy-moves dotage: Castellanos has become a more interesting prospect for LA in part because he was moved back to second base after the Cardinals deposited him permanently in the outfield. According to Kevin Goldstein his defense there is now and much-improved.
Of course, he's also become a more interesting prospect for LA because he hit .379/.476/.759 over two months at AAA Albuquerque. The western parks in the PCL are famous for their offense, but I can't fault him for 100 at-bats at a Davenport Translation of .307/.410/.602. If he can play Schumaker-level defense at second base his continued breakout since the trade—he also slugged .600 in his stop at the Dodgers' AA affiliate last year—makes him a very interesting bench player, at least.
Of course, I was also worried about Terry Evans. And given what Furcal meant to the team down the stretch in 2011, I'm willing to trade a few WAR off the bench in 2013.
3. Jaime Garcia's missed start is going to be absorbed by yesterday's off-day without issue, but it reminded me just how close we are to seeing Shelby Miller in the MLB rotation, at least on a temporary basis, and how fine I am with that. Between the talk of diminished velocity and "boredom" and all the home runs he's given up in the PCL I'm just ready to see what he'll do in the majors.
Of course, I'm probably just getting caught up in the crosswinds of panic about the big league team and excitement about the prospects below him on the depth chart. He's been around forever, in prospect years, but Shelby Miller is going to be 21 all season; every time I check his Baseball Reference page after a long layoff he's persistently about two years younger than I assume he is.