The Hot Stove Was Red Hot In Winter

Now that the Winter Meetings are completed, I have something of substance to blog about, though the Cardinals’ participation in the festivities was very limited.  One could almost say nonexistent, if it weren’t for the one small move that was made on the last day of the meetings.

Before I get to the lone Cardinals’ transaction, I want to say that this year’s meetings were more frustrating—and exciting—than any meetings since those in 2011 when we all said goodbye to Albert Pujols.  They were frustrating because the first two days were nothing more than a Jon Lester festival, filled with nothing more than waiting around for Mr. Lester to choose a suitor.  I think it’s a shame when one person can hold an entire process hostage, which is exactly what Lester did.  While I don’t know Lester, and all accounts are that he is a pretty good guy, I found it rather narcissistic of him to play the game that he played.  Be that as it may, once Lester did make his choice, the meetings took off with a flourish that was quite exciting to witness.  The Dodgers especially made their presence known.  One can only wonder how the absence next season of both Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez will affect the fortunes of the Dodgers.  The Cubs got the Lester grand prize, but the Red Sox made up for the loss of Lester with the additions of Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson.  The Reds traded away two from their 2014 rotation—Alfredo Simon to the Tigers, and Mat Latos to the Marlins.

All in all it was a busy 4 days for many MLB teams.  Not so for the Cardinals, however.  Nothing much was heard from the Cardinal contingent, other than meetings with the agents of Lance Lynn and John Lackey.  What comes from those meetings we will perhaps learn in the future.  On the last day of the meetings, the Cardinals made their sole move of the meetings, signing Mark Reynolds to a one year contract to be the right handed bat off the bench, and sometimes relief 1B for Matt Adams against LHP.

So what are the Cardinals getting in Reynolds?  In my opinion not much.  Reynolds has some power, though that power has come more against right handed pitching than against left handed pitching, especially in 2014, when he hit only 3 of his 22 home runs against left handed pitching.  Career wise his splits are a little better against LHP, and that tends to be more accurate for predictive purposes as a general rule.  However, after 8 seasons in the major leagues his offensive numbers have trended downward, which is not atypical for an aging player. Moreover, Reynolds strikes out at an alarming rate, something he has done his entire career.  Given that Reynolds is 31 years old, it is unlikely that his offensive numbers are going to rebound significantly.  Reynolds will likely be for the Cardinals just as he was for the Brewers, which isn’t very good, and could be even worse considering the amount of playing time he is going to receive will be significantly reduced over what he got with the Brewers.

If Reynolds is used sparingly, as a pinch hitter and as a spot starter at 1B against LHP, he could be useful, though nothing special.  However, given Mike Matheny’s propensity to misuse his players I cannot be hopeful that the Reynolds experiment can avoid being a disaster.  I can envision a scenario (because we have all seen it before) where Reynolds has some small sample size success, and Matheny can’t help himself but use him more than his talents warrant.  Matheny is the Emperor of Small Sample Sizes, and he has no restraint when it comes to the radiant beauty of the small sample size.  I am getting nauseous just thinking about it.

The bottom line for me is that I am not thrilled about the signing of Reynolds.  I think the Cardinals could get the same production from Xavier Scruggs for 1.5M less.  Mozeliak felt this was the correct course, however, so there it is.  Perhaps it will turn out better than I predict.  If not, then we have the Wigginton model to follow—release him and eat the salary.

For what it’s worth, some of the offseason has gone swimmingly.  The acquisition of Jason Heyward was all I could have wished for, and then my cup runneth over when Daniel Descalso was non-tendered.  At this stage I will take what I can get.

Pitchers and catchers report in 70 days.  It can’t come soon enough.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

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