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September Callups: Is there anyone still in Memphis?

The Cardinals have seen a plethora of rookie callups this year prior to the expanded September rosters. That leaves them with an uninspiring cast of characters -- though a potentially useful one.

The Cardinals plan to have helmets that are better sized for their September callups. Lil' Shane Robinson makes due in the interim.
The Cardinals plan to have helmets that are better sized for their September callups. Lil' Shane Robinson makes due in the interim.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Before anything else this morning, a big thank you to Evilfrog and a fink for their efforts in clothing and coordinating everyone during this year's Cardinals Care 6K run. Last night, many of us had the opportunity to go to the game and have small children yell "Charge" around us repeatedly. Also, a big thanks to everyone here who has donated to the cause over the last two years. The VEB teams have raised (I believe) over $10,000 in two years for Cardinals Care.

At the game last night, I was asked who I thought might get a September callup. Off the top of my head, I said, "No one interesting." The Cardinals have poached most of the top prospects out of the upper portion of the minors over the course of they year. Consider that the active roster now contains the following people:

  • Tyler Lyons
  • Seth Maness
  • Carlos Martinez
  • Kevin Siegrist
  • Michael Wacha
  • Kolten Wong

That's a list of players who really weren't expected to contribute in any significant way to the big league club this year. While Wong's callup has been recent the others have all had roles much larger than the club would have forecast at the start of the year.  So who does that leave in the minors to participate in the traditional call up come September?

Everywhere a reliever

There's a handful bullpeners who are on the Memphis shuttle this year and as the season wraps up, will probably make their way to St. Louis. The caveat is while Memphis has had a terrible sub-.500 year so has their whole division and they find themselves just two games back from the playoffs.  With a week's worth of games that could delay the arrival of some of the players.

The St. Louis bullpen has been a source of trouble in part because it has been overstressed by the starting rotation. Memphis currently has Michael Blazek, Keith Butler, Sam Freeman and Fernando Salas who have all spent time in St. Louis this season and remain on the 40-man roster. Salas offers the best hope for something beyond mop-up innings. Since being sent to Memphis, Salas has 19 strikeouts against 5 walks in 22.2 innings. He's become the closer in Memphis quickly accumulating 12 saves.  The others -- Blazek, Butler and Freeman -- are unlikely to be arms that can be counted on in close games this year.

If GM John Mozeliak decided to hand Manager Mike Matheny a lit firecracker, Victor Marte has spent some time in St. Louis and still remains in Memphis. He's had a thoroughly tepid season allowing tons of hits and walks to go with a nasty ERA (though his peripherals are better than his ERA suggests).  Marte has no place in the big leagues but he's the kind of been-here-done-that guy who seems to linger around just for September callups.

Two other relievers on the 40 man roster who haven't seen St. Louis this season include hard throwing Jorge Rondon and groundball specialist Eric Fornataro. Neither player had done much to distinguish themselves in Memphis and really could be on the chopping block for 40 man roster spots heading into 2014. They are unlikely to get a callup.

Somebody You Used To Know

Memphis has also seen its infield rotate through St. Louis over the course of the year. Jermaine Curtis has drawn more walks than strikeouts in Memphis. He had just a 3 at bats over 5 games in St. Louis. Curtis has just a .705 OPS so it's difficult to see what he offers St. Louis barring an injury to their current roster.

Similarly, minor league veteran spent some time in St. Louis (11 games). While he's been a powerhouse for Memphis posting a .910 OPS over the season, his time in St. Louis was lackluster and his performance pedigree seems to suggest the dreaded quad-A label may be apt. Peterson seems likely to get a callup as he offers something that looks like a threat at the plate provided you view it askance.

Of the infielders, there's still the curious case of Ryan Jackson. After a terrific start to the season, stymied by the cooling remnants of Pete Kozmas then adequate performance, Jackson's battled through some illnesses and finds himself still in Memphis and now with an uncompelling case for call-up. Despite the fact that the Cardinals have very little in the way of adequate shortstops in St. Louis, the club has soured on Jackson's defense in the minors and shown little inclination to peek over the fence and see if the grass might be greener. Jackson will likely get the callup as reward for being a season long insurance plan.

With Oscar Taveras injured, the only outfielder (outside of Peterson who occasionally sees time there) likely to be called up is Adron Chambers. For me, Chambers is a fascinating attempt to maximize the post season structure of play. Over 162 games, there's not much to be had from a player who is exclusively a pinch runner. It's just not the best utilization of a roster spot. The playoffs, however, are a different matter. There, Chambers speed can radically alter a game and a series. The Cardinals have kept Chambers in the minors with an eye toward the post-season roster. While it would be helpful if he could get on base of his own accord more frequently, he's got a skillset that's hard to find in everyday players.

Expected to See ...

Not Oscar Taveras. This was the name everyone was looking forward to before an ankle injury in May basically wiped out his entire season.

The Cardinals are probably going to call up Jackson, Peterson, Salas, Freeman and Butler if I had to make a bet. Blazek has an outside shot. There's little chance that the Springfield AA roster provides any reinforcements since no one is on the 40 man roster and much of that roster is new to Springfield in recent months after promotions to Memphis.  There just aren't any exciting prospects poised to make the jump to the big leagues after the callup of Kolten Wong. But we should remember that we've basically been treated to a full season of Septembers as the Cardinals have turned to rookies time after time this year. They've held up their end of the bargain and the Cardinals expect to play in October as a result.