Results tagged ‘ Joe Mather ’

Mather headed east

The Cardinals announced today via their official Twitter feed (@CardsInsider) that the Braves have claimed Joe Mather off of waivers.

Mather, 27, has struggled to regain his health and his form since a breakout 2008 in which he hit eight home runs in 133 at-bats. He has battled injuries, most notably a troublesome left wrist that required multiple operations, since late in ’08.
He enjoyed a strong spring in 2010 and made the Opening Day roster, but scuffled at the plate and was optioned to Triple-A Memphis in May. He was recalled in September and finished the year with a .217/.242/.283 line in 64 plate appearances.
Mather can play first base, third base and all three outfield positions.
Many teams will make relatively minor moves between now and Saturday as they set their 40-man rosters in advance of full free agency. Any player with six or more years of Minor League experience who is not on a 40-man roster as of Saturday afternoon becomes a free agent.
-M.

Cardinals make two moves

CHICAGO — The Cardinals made a pair of roster moves on Saturday, going to 13 pitchers for the time being.

St. Louis officially recalled right-hander Adam Ottavino from Triple-A Memphis, formalizing a move that had been in the offing for two days. Ottavino is the club’s scheduled starter for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Additionally, the Cardinals purchased the contract of lefty Evan MacLane from Memphis, giving them an eighth relief pitcher to protect a bullpen that manager Tony La Russa fears could be short-staffed in the coming days. MacLane provides a long reliever, since he has been starting at Memphis.
To make room for the two additions, the Cardinals optioned right-handed reliever Fernando Salas and outfielder Joe Mather to Memphis.
La Russa said he does not expect the Cardinals to stay with 13 pitchers beyond their upcoming off day on Thursday.
-M. 

Friday chess match: Protecting and extending a lead

The situation: Top of the ninth. Two outs, runner on first. Cardinals lead by two. Arthur Rhodes is pitching for the Reds. Colby Rasmus’ spot comes up in the batting order for the Cardinals.

The decision: TLR pinch-hits for Rasmus with Joe Mather
The outcome: Mather pops up to end the inning. In the bottom of the ninth, Mather has a near-miss on a shallow single to center, helping to set up the Reds near-game-tying rally.
The analysis: There are two issues at play here. One, the bigger one in my opinion, is the balance between offense and defense at this point in the game. The other is the broader and on-running question of how Rasmus is handled against left-handed pitchers.
As for the first issue, here’s the question the manager must answer. Which is a greater benefit: the potential increase in runs added from having Mather hit, or the potential decrease in runs allowed from having Rasmus stay in center. Typically, with a lead, you favor defense over offense. That’s especially true when it’s two outs and a runner on first, rather than fewer outs, or more runners on, or a runner or two in scoring position.
The second issue is the thornier one. Many fans don’t like the idea of Rasmus as a platoon player, and while I can’t say I blame them, Arthur Rhodes is not just any lefty. He’s an outstanding reliever who consistently obliterates left-handed hitters, and he’s having another excellent year this year. It’s one thing to say you’ll let Rasmus face lefties. It’s another to leave him or ANY left-handed hitter in against a pitcher like Rhodes.
The comment: (the question was, whether it was a hard call to remove Rasmus) “No, because I think Mather is an outstanding center fielder. He’s showing me more and more when I play him. The other thing is that Rasmus has had a nice day going. He got a little something going. You can walk away after Rhodes embarrasses you, and that’s what you remember.”
My verdict: Someone on Twitter (and I apologize, I’ve already forgotten who) called this the most bizarre inning of La Russa’s career. I don’t see it. Leaving Mitchell Boggs in to bunt, IMO, makes more sense than burning a pinch-hitter on a sacrifice, and then you have this move, which is at least defensible in my mind.
I’ll answer the second issue first, because it’s the one where I’m entirely with the manager. You don’t have to consider Rasmus a platoon player to get him out against Rhodes. Even at 40, Rhodes is pretty much the terminator against same-side hitters.
But the first question is trickier. To my eye, Rasmus remains pretty clearly the superior center fielder, and I just feel like you should be prioritizing defense over offense at that point in the game.
I think I’d have left Rasmus in. But I see where the manager was coming from, and I don’t view the move as being as outlandish as some of you did.
-M.

Saturday Spring Training tidbits: clearing out the notebook

After three days off and no blogging yesterday, I have a lot of tidbits for you. It’s a gorgeous, pretty much perfect day in northern Palm Beach county. We’ll see the mid-to-high 70s, some wind but not much, almost no clouds, just spectacular. Wish you were here.

* Felipe Lopez is in right field today. TLR said early in the spring that he’d like to see Lopez in center before spring is out, but that looks less likely now.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll see. I want to make sure that right field goes all right first. Baby steps.”
* La Russa said Joe Mather looks good to him despite Mather’s 3-for-24 slump. It’s going to be hard to keep Mather off the roster because of his power and versatility (especially his ability to play center field), but he’d certainly help himself if he started hitting.
The manager on Mather: “I think he’s doing all the other stuff good, and hitting-wise, he’s a little… he could be more consistent. Mark [McGwire] thinks he’s really close. He’s done a lot of good work and he’s close. He just has to go from close to there.”
La Russa said he has no concerns about Mather’s health.
* If Adam Ottavino is sent to the Minor Leagues — and right now it looks as though he will be — he will start rather than relieve. That keeps all options open. If Ottavino is starting in Memphis, he could still come up and pitch in relief for the Major League club. But if he’s relieving in Memphis, he wouldn’t be available as the “sixth starter.” And right now, it looks like he is in fact the organization’s sixth starter once Kyle McClellan moves to relief.
* Despite the fact that most of the starting pitchers are facing the same opponent in each of their last two spring starts, the club will not adjust its rotation this week. It would be possible to move most of the starters by a day, so they see different teams, and not affect their availability next week. That’s because every starter will get at least one extra day between his final spring start and first of the regular season. But as of now, the plan is still to keep them all on turn, rather than re-jiggering anything this week.
* I’ve been asked this a few times, so here’s your answer: Nick Stavinoha is not making the team as a catcher. He won’t be the second catcher. He’s not going to do any catching down here before spring is out. If he is on the roster, he would be the emergency third catcher, but TLR said that even that doesn’t do anything more for his chances than it did before Molina was hurt.
* The Cardinals will likely take about 28-29 players to Minnesota at the end of the week. TLR said that he’d like to have 16 position players on the trip. However, the extra bodies will likely be players who already know their standing, rather than guys waiting to find out whether they make the team — players like Donovan Solano and Daniel Descalso, who have had good springs but aren’t making the team.
Today’s playlist:
Blakroc, “Hard Times”
LCD Soundsystem, “Drunk Girls”
Editors, “In This Light And On This Evening”
Hot Chip, “I Feel Better”
Cold War Kids, “Audience”
-M.
Oh, and one final thing: GO BUTLER!

Friday camp tidbits: Ryan update, Mather, more

It was a little cloudy here in Jupiter today, but the forecasters tell us the more typically warm temps will arrive tomorrow. Again, not that I’m complaining. What we’ve had the past couple days still feels very nice.

* John Mozeliak spoke with reporters for a good while this morning and covered several topics, some of which I addressed on stories that are going on the main site today. But he also gave a couple of health updates which you’ll likely be interested in.
Mozeliak was asked whether it’s his understanding that Brendan Ryan will be ready on schedule, and this was his response:
“Yeah, it is. The surgery itself was very benign, and the way he’s feeling right now is very positive. But again, until he can actually test the wrist, we’re not going to know for sure.”
Asked when that will be, that Ryan can test it, he said, “I’d say probably three weeks from now. e’s going to be able to do baseball-related stuff when he gets here next week, but I’m talking about really swinging the bat and testing it.”
* He also said things are going very well for Joe Mather health-wise, and talked up Mather’s potential as a valuable member of the 2010 Cardinals.
“He can do a lot of things,” Mozeliak said. “He can play all three outfield positions. So if he can show he’s healthy, he’d be a nice guy to have on the club. He gives you a lot of flexibility. He just has to come out and show that he can play, physically. Because he’s got a lot of talent.
And how are things going with regard to Mather’s health?
“Very positive. Very encouraging.”
* As several of us were standing in the clubhouse this afternoon, someone noticed that Dennys Reyes’ locker had two number plates on it — 36 and 37. We wondered if he was sharing his locker, and if so, with whom.
But that wasn’t the case at all. In fact, Reyes has sort of a hold on both numbers at the moment. He wore 37 before he joined the Cardinals. But last year, 37 was taken by Todd Wellemeyer, so he took 36. Now, he’s pondering whether to make the switch back. Reyes wore a 37 jersey today — but took bunting practice wearing a 36 helmet.
He’s likely to make a final decision in the next few days.
* Nobody had a tougher day today than Minor League catcher Charlie Cutler, who had a big year with the bat in his first full pro season last year.
Cutler caught two bullpens: first, the hard-throwing Francisco Samuel, whose control isn’t always the sharpest in July, never mind February. Then he followed it up with knuckleballer Charlie Zink. 
That certainly counts as earning your meal money.
Today’s playlist:
Passion Pit, “Little Secrets”
Hot Chip, “One Life Stand”
Cut Copy, “Hearts On Fire”
The XX, “Islands”
Yeasayer, “Ambling Alp”
-M.

Thursday tidbits: And so it begins

Lots of tidbits today, and for some of you the best news of all is that today’s tidbits are a McGwire-free zone. It was another gorgeous day down here, unusually cool for the area (below 50 in the morning, mid-60s in the afternoon) but clear. Supposed to be warming up as the weekend goes on.

* Both TLR (to the group of us) and Mozeliak (to me in a chat this afternoon) reiterated that the Cardinals are not in any hurry to add an infielder or anything else. They’re aware that Brendan Ryan’s injury is something that could create some complications, but there will be no overreaction.

Reports continue to swirl that the Cardinals are “pursuing” Felipe Lopez, but let’s be realistic here. It’s Feb. 18. If they were really pursuing him that hard, they’d likely have signed him. More probable is that they’re keeping the lines of communication open in case the fit suddenly becomes better.

Here’s TLR on the situation: “I think we’re doing the things to protect ourselves. I don’t think you go out there and trade for an everyday shortstop. We expect him to come back, and we cover until he comes back. I think that’s one of the things we’ve talked about, some protection, infield, outfield.”

Meanwhile, Mozeliak said that he expected any move the Cardinals made would likely take place late in camp. He also said he had no issues with Ryan waiting until next week to arrive.

“He’s coming on his report date,” Mozeliak said. “We didn’t feel like we needed to change flights or anything like that. there’s not a whole lot he could have done today, tomorrow, this weekend.”

* The turnout continues to be excellent. Colby Rasmus is now in camp. That means that it’s entirely possible that seven of the nine players in the Opening Day lineup are already here. If Ryan is out, I’d guess that Tyler Greene will start. So all of the following players are currently in camp and could start on April 5 in Cincinnati: Yadier Molina, Skip Schumaker, Greene, David Freese, Rasmus, Ryan Ludwick and either Adam Wainwright or Chris Carpenter.

* Among the pitchers and catchers, the only one not present is P.J. Walters, who is tending to the health of his newborn baby. I have not heard anything recently about how the child is doing, but I certainly wish the whole family well.

* La Russa said that every pitcher who is in camp is healthy and ready to go on the full, normal program.

* One interesting player this spring, and a guy I’ve liked for a long time, is Joe Mather. If Mather is healthy and effective, he’ll have every chance to make the team. He can play some third and first and both corner outfield spots. But he’s played some middle infield very early in his career, and TLR said Thursday that he considers Mather a viable center field option.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I think just about anywhere. This guy is a player.”

It’s a funny twist. A year ago, Mather’s best chance to make the team appeared to be moving from the outfield to third base. This year, his ability to play center, as a right-handed batter, might just be his ticket onto the roster.

* Pitchers and catchers underwent physicals and drug tests this morning, so they started their workout later than normal. Tomorrow’s workout should be closer to 9 a.m. ET.

Today’s playlist is all Nirvana because, well, I’m on a Nirvana kick:
“School”
“Lithium”
“Heart Shaped Box”
“Pennyroyal Tea”
“Smells Like Teen Spirit”

-M.

Tuesday early tidbits and lineup: Lohse, Glaus, Mather

Some early news. I’ll flesh these out later, but wanted to get these bits up now…

* Kyle Lohse threw a lengthy bullpen today. He went about 40 pitches, sat down while Adam Wainwright threw his bullpen, then threw some more. He was pleased with his offspeed pitches and not pleased with his fastball command. He’ll throw a lighter pen on Thursday, followed by a simulated game on Saturday.

* Troy Glaus has begun hitting off of a pitching machine. He’s on a throwing program as well. John Mozeliak said that the level of optimism regarding Glaus’ return this year may be up a little bit but it’s essentially unchanged. Glaus is coming along but the timetable remains pretty open.

* Joe Mather had wrist surgery yesterday. Mozeliak didn’t have full details for us today; expects to tomorrow. And while he wasn’t comfortable projecting a timetable, it sounds like it was a pretty significant procedure. When he was asked if the surgery would be a season-ender for Mather, Mozeliak said he wasn’t sure but “would say the likelihood is yes.”

Lineup vs RHP Livan Hernandez:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Duncan LF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Ludwick RF
5. Ankiel CF
6. Molina C
7. K.Greene 3B
8. Pineiro P
9. Ryan SS

-M.

Tuesday afternoon tidbit: Duncan on DL, Wainwright on mound

Greetings…

* Chris Duncan is on the disabled list with what has alternately been called a bulging disc and a pinched nerve in his neck. Joe Mather has been recalled from Memphis and is present and available.

* Adam Wainwright threw off a mound today for the first time since his finger injury. He anticipates a quick path back to the active roster, possibly as soon as 2 1/2 weeks (ie, the series at Wrigley). Also, for the conspiracy theorists, he dismissively laughed at the notion of returning in relief.

* Chris Carpenter threw his normal between-starts bullpen today and even took batting practice.

-M.

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