Exit Interview: Joey Butler

2014 Major League Stats: 0-for-5, 1 BB, 6 G
2014 Minor League Stats: .360/.481/.547, 4 HR, 20 RBI in 31 G in AAA
2015 Role: Playing in Japan or for a Triple-A team

When the Cardinals acquired Joey Butler last October, I pointed him out as a solid platoon outfielder for Jon Jay in center field. That seemed like a good option until the Cardinals acquired Peter Bourjos to do the exact same thing the very next month. The right handed Butler has some holes in his swing against right handed pitching, but his left handed pitching really well. So after a great start in Memphis, he got a brief stint with the Cardinals’ big league club. He went hitless in six plate appearances before the club elected to sell his contract to the Orix Buffaloes in Japan.

Butler had moderate success in Japan, hitting .231/.379/.385 with 2 homers and 6 RBI in 21 games on an Orix team that featured fellow former Cardinal Brandon Dickson. After two stops in the big leagues, his options seem slim. He could probably return to Japan for another season or try to hook on with another Triple-A team here in the US, but he will be 29 at the beginning of next season. You don’t see 29 year old minor leaguers suddenly becoming MLB caliber players.

 

Exit Interview: Keith Butler

2014 Major League Stats: 2 G, 2.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 1 BB
2014 Minor League Stats: 0.84 ERA, 9 G, 10.2 IP, 0.94 WHIP in AAA
2015 Role: Rehabbing from Tommy John

Keith Butler was expected to be one of those guys that played a pivotal role as the 4th or 5th right handed reliever out of the bullpen this season for St. Louis, but that role never developed for him. He pitched well enough in Spring Training to earn a bullpen spot, but after getting blown out for five runs in his 2014 season debut, he only got one more opportunity before being demoted. He pitched well enough in Memphis though, posting an ERA and a WHIP below 1 until going down in with injury in May.

He underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his UCL at the end of May. With the typical rehab time for a pitcher being about a year, it may be the middle of the season before we see Butler return to game action, even in the minor leagues. His chances of making any appearances with the big league club in 2015 will seem slim to impossible given the experiences of Adam Wainwright and Jason Motte upon their returns from Tommy John, struggling to be consistently effective and without their best stuff. [click to continue…]

Exit Interview: George Kottaras

2014 Major League Stats: .233/.351/.533, 3 HR, 5 RBI in 18 games
2014 Minor League Stats: .190/.284/.345, 4 HR, 13 RBI in 27 games in AAA
2015 Role: Backup catcher in the Majors

After the injury to Yadier Molina, the Cardinals claimed George Kottaras off waivers from the Indians to give themselves a veteran backup option for Tony Cruz. He would start just one game with St. Louis and catch a total off 11 innings in Cardinal red before being waived by the Cardinals when they signed A.J. Pierzynski.

Kottaras was a player that never really got an opportunity with the Cardinals to show them what he could do. On a team with little power, Kottaras could have provided that. A career backup, Kottaras’ home run rate over his career translates to 20+ homers if he were to play a full season behind the plate for a team. His batting average won’t be impressive, he hit just .180 in 2013 as the Royals’ primary backup, but his power would have offset that for a team desperate for hitting.  [click to continue…]

The organizational vision for 2015 begins to focus

John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny spoke to the media this afternoon to discuss a little bit about how the season ended, but mainly where the club goes from here to prepare for the 2015 season. As a result of today’s discussion we now have begun to get a clearer picture of where Mozeliak intends to take the club over the offseason and what it’s goals are.

We heard from Bill DeWitt Jr earlier this week about payroll and their expectation that it will escalate in future years to accommodate rising salaries of their young players. He also made note that the team has the means to add another core player via free agency or trade if an opportunity presented itself. While he declined to say exactly how much he foresees payroll rising, it is confidence inspiring that the team will attempt to identify and retain some of its young players going forward.

Going into 2015, all of the coaching staff is expected to return. Mike Aldrete may be approached by at least one other team for an open position with them, but they have yet to ask permission to interview Aldrete. Personally, I’d like to see Aldrete move on and the Cardinals hire a veteran bench coach who can help Matheny manage the pitching staff better. Aldrete has been a hitting coach and a base coach and doesn’t have the background to really provide Matheny with experienced strategic advice when it comes to managing a bullpen. The combination of inexperience in both positions has hurt the Cardinals, in my opinion. [click to continue…]

Exit Interview: Sam Tuivailala

2014 Major League Stats: 2 G, 1.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 2 BB
2014 Minor League Stats: 3.15 ERA, 48 G, 60.0 IP, 1.25 WHIP in A/AA/AAA
2015 Role: Reliever for Triple-A Memphis

A fast riser this season, Samuel Tuivailala started his season with High A Palm Beach. He got promoted in July to Double-A Springfield and then briefly to Triple-A Memphis at the end of the season. Once Memphis’ season completed, Tuivailala and his triple digit fastball made the trip to St. Louis.

His results in St. Louis weren’t that impressive as he may have proved himself not quite ready for the big leagues. He made his debut September 9th against Cincinnati and collected two outs and was charged with two earned runs, unable to escape the inning. His next opportunity was a tough situation for a guy without even an inning of Major League experience. Mike Matheny called on him with two on and none out, but Tuivailala was unable to pull through, getting just a single out, allowing both inherited base runners to score, and being tagged with two earned runs of his own in the process. That would be his last appearance of the year. [click to continue…]