Cardinals add Kottaras

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have claimed catcher George Kottaras from the Cleveland Indians. The Indians DFA’d Kottaras earlier in the week. For the Cardinals, the move was motivated by the loss of Yadier Molina for the next 8-12 weeks and is a low risk move for the Cardinals.

Kottaras, 31, was my first thought if we were going to go outside the organization for a catcher. While he may not hit for average (a career .216 hitter) he does possess solid power (projecting to 23 home runs over 600 plate appearances). So far this season in the majors, he hit .286 with 3 home runs over 10 games for Cleveland. He is signed to a one year deal worth a little more than $1 million, so it represents little investment and cost for the team to give him a look.

The big question will be how they make room for him on the 40 man roster. The team moved Jaime Garcia to the 60 day DL this afternoon to make room for Joe Kelly on the 40 man roster (Tyler Lyons was optioned to Memphis to make room for Kelly on the 25 man roster). But the Cardinals currently have a full 40 man roster. There are three options for them going forward to make room.

The most obvious would be to move Molina to the 60 day DL since he is expected to miss at least 60 days following today’s surgery. The other option would be to move Keith Butler to the 60 day DL, but that would be a major league disabled list. That means the Cardinals would have to pay Butler a Major League salary and he would accrue service time. Or they could outright someone off the 40 man roster.

Edit: The Cardinals outrighted OF Mike O’Neill off the 40 man roster to make room for Kottaras. After a stellar 2013 campaign where he hit .314/.424/.369 in 130 games between Springfield and Memphis, he was sent to Double-A to start the season because of the excess of outfield depth the organization has. He has struggled this season, hitting .263/.345/.352 over 74 games.


Much ado about Yadi

This afternoon John Mozeliak announced that Yadier Molina will have surgery on a torn ligament in his right thumb tomorrow and will be out the next 8-12 weeks. Most likely that will mean that Molina is done for the season. Tony Cruz will become the Cardinals’ new starting catcher in the meantime with Audry Perez already in St. Louis to take Molina’s place on the roster as the team’s new backup catcher.

While I’ve chronicled on this blog that I’m not totally sold on Cruz’s ability to call a game or manage a staff (just looking at the differences in Catcher’s ERA between Molina and Cruz), I do think he has the ability to hit if given consistent playing time. Call it a gut feeling because last year when Molina made his trip to the disabled list, Cruz hit .205 as the primary catcher. And that totally doesn’t prove my point.

During the press conference, Mozeliak indicated that the organization has confidence in Cruz, but will look around to see if there is anyone that fits (read: cheap). From the sounds of it, they will give Cruz an opportunity to hold the job before beginning a serious search for a replacement.

If the Cardinals do want to make a move, there is A.J. Pierzynski, John Buck, and George Kottaras who have all been recently DFA’d by their teams. Potentially, those three will be available as free agents. Buck might be the team’s preference out of that list. But another option via trade would be to acquire Kurt Suzuki from Minnesota.

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Peavy lights up Twitter

Talk of a potential trade for Jake Peavy lit up Twitter this evening. Word is that Boston is interested in moving Peavy before tomorrow’s game to make room on the roster for prospect Rubby De La Rosa. Most of the fuel for the fire came from a post by Ken Rosenthal at FOX Sports that mentions the teams spoke a month ago and that Boston likes St. Louis’ outfield prospects. I’m thinking you’d struggle to find a team that’s not interested in any of St. Louis’ outfield prospects, but that doesn’t make for good click bait.

I’m not that interested in Peavy. He has one season of above average ERA+ over the last five years. He is currently 1-7 with a 4.64 ERA. The one benefit he’d have is that he should be able to log innings, something that the team is likely watching for both Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez. However, his ability keep the opposing teams off the scoreboard is what’s in question these days.

Since the initial report, the Post Dispatch’s Derrick Goold indicated that the Cardinals are looking for offense, not Peavy. In a later tweet he added that John Mozeliak said that they feel trading for a top pitcher would require one of their younger starting pitchers, resulting in a net loss of years of control. That doesn’t necessarily add up to eliminate acquiring Peavy, but that any move for Peavy would include an offense upgrade as well. It probably means the Cardinals won’t be trading for David Price either (I’d be surprised if he went anywhere at this point), though, Mozeliak always plays his cards close to his chest. [click to continue…]

The price for Price

There’s been a lot of talk amongst Cardinal fans about potentially trading for Tampa Bay starter David Price since a rumor emerged a couple weeks ago. The rumored deal at the time included the Cardinals’ Michael Wacha, Kolten Wong, and Oscar Taveras headed to Florida in exchange for Price and Evan Longoria. Further speculation was fueled when the Cardinals’ scouted Price’s start (we aren’t projected to see him at all this season) while the same night Taveras sat in Memphis. Oh, and it was announced that Michael Wacha was skipping a start to boot.

Since then though, the once surplus of starting pitchers has turned into a need. Jaime Garcia’s shoulder issues have shut him down again and he’ll be out for a year as he has surgery to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Meanwhile, Michael Wacha has developed a stress fracture in his scapula.

That means Carlos Martinez is needed in the rotation and we’ll need someone else to fill the gap. Thankfully, Joe Kelly is just a couple weeks away and Marco Gonzales has filled in admirably in his stead. [click to continue…]

Garcia’s great start

Lost in the way we lost that game last night, I feel like I failed to give Jaime Garcia his due for the performance he had on Sunday afternoon. He wasn’t totally sharp, made some mistakes, but he was good enough and if it weren’t for an iffy foul ball call, he might have walked away with the win.

I had a great deal of concerns entering the game. Was Garcia really ready for prime time? A 95 pitch limit that was talked about was hardly enough for a typically inefficient Garcia. Could he get deep into the game? There was no way the bullpen could absorb having to pitch four or five innings.

Asked and answered, apparently. He threw 83 pitches over 7 innings. That stacked up as his 8th most efficient start out of the 91 he’s made in his career. It was needed too, because as we learned, the bullpen couldn’t even handle two innings of work.

I picked a few games from the last few seasons. His velocity is better than it was last year on pretty much all his pitches. It’s back to where it was in 2011, probably the last time he threw healthy. His breaking stuff is moving quite a bit too. All in all, it was a brilliant start for Jaime. If he could just stay healthy, he could be one of the best left handed pitchers in baseball. [click to continue…]