For much of the 2015 season, the Cardinals carried five catchers on the 40-man roster. Easley was among them, but the club didn't see fit to make him a September callup when the calendar flipped from August—like they did his fellow backstop Cody Stanley, who represented the third catcher on the active St. Louis roster—or after the Triple-A season concluded earlier in the week. The timing of Easley's recall was odd. That's because we did not yet have all the facts.
The why behind Easley's promotion was revealed on Saturday morning: Stanley tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and MLB has suspended him for 80 games. With Stanley suspended, he falls off the active St. Louis roster as well as the 40-man. And so Easley will be the Cardinals' third-string catcher through season's end.
Cue the Fox Sports Midwest broadcasters talking about how having three catchers on the roster frees up Tony Cruz—he of the career .220/.264/.299 (.249 wOBA, 55 wRC+) batting line—to pinch-hit more often.
This is not Stanley's first PED rodeo. In March 2012, MLB suspended Stanley 50 games for violating the cartel's minor-league drug-testing policy. Stanley tested positive for Mathlhexaneamine and Tamoxifen back then. I'm no pharmacist so I'll leave the analysis to Joe, but the Post-Dispatch described the substances thusly:
Methlhexaneamine is a dietary supplement and was originally trademarked for use as a nasal decongestant. Tamoxifen is often prescribed for male and female breast cancer patients. It is not a steroid but is used to counter side effects typically associated with steroids.
Kary Booher of the Springfield News-Leader reported last year on Stanley's apology to St. Louis staff and minor-leaguers after learning of his positive test and resultant suspension:
This was late March 2012, and there they stood — the farm director, the coaches and the farmhands, all gathered in a circle and waiting, numbering about 200 in all.
One teammate remembers Stanley holding note cards, but going off script, a good sign. After all, asking for forgiveness is best heartfelt.
An over-the-counter, weight-training product carried two banned but un-marked substances, Stanley told them. It was inadvertent. And that's when the healing began.
"I didn't have to do anything for them to believe in me. They just believed in me," Stanley said. "That's what got me super-excited about coming back. I didn't have to explain myself.
"They just trusted in me and trusted what I do and how I took care of my body. They knew morally what I'm about."
Now it seems that members of the St. Louis organization have little reason to take any apology Stanley might utter at face value. Per the AP, Stanley tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone or Turbinol. The quick-and-dirty description Joe tweeted after the news broke is that the substance "is an oral anabolic steroid which is pretty easy to detect in testing." For what it's worth, Stanley is once again pleading ignorance:
#STLCards manager Mike Matheny said Cody Stanley is unaware of what he might have taken to trigger positive PED test.— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) September 12, 2015
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. The old turn-of-phrase works on two levels with Stanley. On one level, how could a professional athlete be so careless with what he puts into his body to inadvertently ingest banned substances twice? On the other, why should anyone believe Stanley's attempt to explain away a second positive test with a second claim of ignorance?
Easley is an unremarkable ballplayer. It's fair to describe him as a nonprospect at this point. At 29, he has three MLB plate appearances to his name. All with St. Louis in 2015.
Playing part-time with Memphis last year, he notched 312 PA and hit .296/.359/.473 (.366 wOBA, 116 wRC+) thanks in part to a .321 BABIP. This year, Easley's Triple-A BABIP dropped to .283 and posted a .251/.345/.337 (.317 wOBA, 87 wRC+) over 323 PA. Nothing too terribly exciting about this old-for-his-league catcher. He won't play any more than Stanley would have and might even get fewer PA. And that's okay. He serves as little more than a more defensively skilled emergency catcher than what Pete Kozma was from April though the end of August.
The news isn't all bad this September Saturday. Matt Belisle, the veteran righty reliever and FIPer extraordinaire who landed on the disabled list months ago with "elbow inflammation" in his throwing arm, is back.
Matt Belisle to be activated today and available out of #stlcards bullpen for the regularly-scheduled game.— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) September 12, 2015
The acquisitions of Jonathan Broxton and Steve Cishek led me to fear Belisle was lost for the season, like Jordan Walden. But the Cardinals activated Belisle Saturday morning and he is available for manager Mike Matheny to use out of the bullpen from here on out.
Matt Adams's Activation
First baseman Matt Adams landed on the DL when he tore his quad way back in May. The prognosis was not good. His injury required corrective surgery. The prognosis was that Adams was likely to miss the rest of the 2015 season. But on September 9, the Cardinals activated Big Mayo. To make room for him on the then-full 40-man roster, St. Louis designated Nick Greenwood (remember him?) for assignment. How Greenwood remained on the 40-man until September is beyond me.
40-Man Roster Matrix as of September 12, 2015
I updated the Cardinals' 40-man roster matrix to include the recent activations of Adams and Belisle as well as the suspension of Stanley and consequent recall of Easley. I included Lyons as a starter even though he is technically a reliever simply because I didn't have enough room in the reliever column and he may very well get a spot start or two down the stretch to help the club bank additional innings with Carlos Martinez or Michael Wacha.
Correction: The original roster matrix still had Greenwood on it. So I corrected it and embedded a new version of it.