Justin Robert Towles, or better known as J.R. Towles, is probably best known to Cardinals’ fans as the backup catcher for the Houston Astros. Despite being drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2002 and 2003, Towles returned to school until drafted by the Astros in the 20th round of the 2004 draft.
Towles’ highlight game came against the Cardinals on September 20, 2007, where he posted the Astros franchise record 8 RBI after being in the majors for all of about two weeks. That game included him hitting his first career home run off of Aaron Miles in an 18-1 blowout. From there, however, his career has struggled to take off.
He was expected to be the Astros’ primary backstop in 2008, but found himself headed to Triple-A by June after hitting .145 through the first two months of the season. He bounced back and forth for the rest of the season and then did so the next few years. After being cut loose by Houston after the 2011 season, he played last year for the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester. He hit .214/.280/.315 in 52 games.
Towles isn’t expected to do much beyond minor league depth. He and Rob Johnson are likely to battle each other for the starting job in Memphis to fill a hole in the system. Both should be an advantage for the young pitching the Cardinals’ have.
David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals avoided arbitration, settling on a 1 year deal worth $3.15 million. That means the team continues it’s streak of not having a player case reach arbitration since Darren Oliver in 1999. It also puts the team’s projected Opening Day Salary Obligations at $113.9 million, up from $111.8 million last year.
Freese, the hometown hero of the 2011 World Series, had filed for arbitration at $3.75 million with the Cardinals filing at $2.4 million. They were due to meet up in a hearing over the next couple weeks to determine which salary Freese would earn in 2013, his first arbitration year. It ends the speculation of the team maybe being comfortable in their position going into the arbitration hearing and letting it get there.
After the news of the agreement came out, Freese told the Post-Dispatch that he wanted to be a Cardinal for life. That would entail a long-term deal for a player who will be turning 33 shortly after earning his first chance of free agency after the 2015 season. With Matt Carpenter, who will be where Freese is now, and a glut of third baseman picked in this past year’s draft, Freese’s future with the Cardinals is as questionable as ever. [click to continue…]
The Cardinals’ General Manager John Mozeliak announced this afternoon that he didn’t expect Chris Carpenter to pitch for the team in 2013. The issues surrounding his arm with stingers and tingling have returned. It may be the answer to the question I asked earlier this offseason of what do you do about Chris Carpenter.
While the “R” word wasn’t mentioned as many speculated it would be, it was pretty clear listening to Mozeliak and Mike Matheny that they believe that Carpenter has thrown his last major league pitch. I read some reports that Carpenter was close to calling it a career after the rib surgery last year, but was convinced to push and come back for a playoff run.
The team immediately loses a big part of their psyche. Wainwright can step up into the leadership position in the pitching staff and likely was there last year. Many may believe that losing Carpenter hurts the teams chances, I don’t think you’ll see a big difference on the field. I think at this point what you can get out of Shelby Miller or Trevor Rosenthal over 32 starts is the same as you’d be able to squeeze out of Carpenter. [click to continue…]
Rob Johnson began his professional career as a fourth round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 2004 draft. He attended Saddleback College in California before transferring to the University of Houston where he played one season before entering the MLB Draft in 2004.
In the 2005 season, between A and high A ball, he posted a .280/.332/.432 slash line. The organization noticed and he earned the jump to Triple-A Tacoma the next season. He may have been promoted before he was ready though as he struggled with a line of .231/.261/.318. Over the next two seasons with Tacoma, his Triple-A numbers improved, posting a line of .305/.363/.441 with 9 HR in 2008.
In 2009, he spent the entire year in the majors with Seattle after cups of coffee in 2007 and 2008. He posted a slash line of .213/.289/.326 with 2 HR and 27 RBI in 80 games. After the season he would have two hip surgeries and a wrist surgery, similar to the hip surgeries that Alex Rodriguez has recently undergone. [click to continue…]
Justin Christian was signed by the Cardinals to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training as a free agent. He spent last season with the San Francisco Giants. He has played parts of three seasons in the majors since 2008, including 32 games and 61 plate appearances last year for the Giants where he hit .125/.197/.143.
Born in Nebraska, Christian, 32, attended high school in San Mateo, California. He would spend two years at Skyline College and then Auburn University. He missed most of the 2002 season with a torn before transferring to Southeast Missouri State University where he was an All-American. He would go undrafted in the 2003 Major League Draft.
In his second season of independent ball for the River City Rascals, he hit .450 with 26 steals in 30 games. The New York Yankees signed him, having never scouted him in person. He played 2004 in the Gulf Coast and Penn League for the Yankees. [click to continue…]