McClellan to relieve, paving way for Garcia to start

JUPITER, Fla. —  Kyle McClellan will pitch in relief for the Cardinals in 2010, clearing the way for Jaime Garcia to be the club’s fifth starter.
Manager Tony La Russa made the announcement of McClellan’s status on Monday morning after informing the pitcher that his quest to move from the bullpen to the starting rotation has been deferred once again. Garcia, who is scheduled to start for the Cardinals on Monday afternoon against Minnesota, had not been officially notified of his status as of Monday morning.
“We’re assuming he’s going to pitch good,” La Russa said. “And if he pitches good, then [it’s a done deal]. … But he hasn’t been told because it’s not official.”
The other half, however, is finalized. McClellan, who has pitched in relief for St. Louis the past two years, will do so again in 2010. He had hoped to win a starting job, and he pitched very well, but will instead go back to the bullpen. He may serve as the primary setup man to closer Ryan Franklin. 
“He’s had a great spring, but that’s where we need him.”
Garcia pitched the best of the three candidates — Rich Hill was also a contender — and that was certainly one factor in the decision on McClellan. But the Cardinals also remain short on right-handed bullpen depth, which also tipped the scales somewhat.
“Those are the factors that have come into play,” La Russa said. “Jaime’s done a good job, really good. Without that good job, then we’d still be looking for something.”
-M.

5 Comments

If this really does presage Garcia taking the fifth spot, then I’m good with it, although I hope TLR and Dunc will take measures to keep his workload from getting too high; this is his first full season back after TJ, after all. If it somehow means that Hill gets the spot … not so good.

Any chance that what it REALLY means is a trade or dumpster-diving free agent signing in the offing?

Hey, it seems that you’ve written almost no sentences with the name David Freese in them this Spring… any thoughts?

This is ultimately the right decision. If I may use a poor Super Mario analogy, if the dude’s already got the Big Mushroom, you’ve gotta let him go for the Fire Flower. If he gets hit by a goomba, blam, he’s still got his Big Mushroom waiting for him in the minors. And ultimately, they’ll play him conservatively despite their liberal approval. You need to be cautious in any league, not just the MLB, and there’s more opportunities to rest an a fifth starter in the MLB than as the ace of a Triple A club. This will extend his newly-redesigned arm’s lifespan over the course of a season. That’s my logical outcome for keeping him in the Majors, plus he’s much better with a higher ceiling than Rich Hill and it keeps K-Mac where we need him, in our weak spot–the belly of King Koopa, if you will.

One pet peeve: I typically hear “minor league innings are the same as MLB innings” on threads and message boards as a way to promote Jaime. This is NOT sound logic, as innings pitched do not equate to pitches thrown. Why are the Yankees so successful? It’s because these are the best of the best who will take 8+ pitches per at-bat and wear down young pitchers (and even some established veterans). Facing the heart of the line-up in Triple A compared to the Phillies’ heart, you’re gonna see a drastic difference of pitches thrown per innings pitched. Now, is this a problem? Depends who you ask. I’m not normally a “throw him into the fire” kind of guy (I’d cough Rick Ankiel’s name, but I’ve got way too much pet dander and dust in my throat from moving), but I like Jaime’s mental make-up. Doesn’t seem rattled easily. I’ll say this: it’s not the most logical conclusion, but A) if Duncan is that impressed but him there has to be something to it, and B) sometimes you have to take a chance on a guy and see what he can do on a trial run.

Freese has just chugged along. He’s played well and he’s the guy.

-M.

OK, I’m going to say it. By the All-Star break, Ryan Franklin, long replaced as closer by Kyle McClellan, is given his unconditional release. McClellan is in the running for reliever of the year award. And this Cardinal closer does not fade in September and October.

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