Just yesterday, we noted that Baseball Prospectus ranked St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes the top prospect in all of baseball.
Today, one day after the beginning of spring training, Reyes is heading to the operating table with a ruptured ligament in his right elbow. He will have Tommy John surgery and miss the 2017 season.
The 22-year-old was 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 12 games (5 starts) with the Cardinals last season. He struck out 52 batters in 46 big-league innings.
Reyes was expected to compete for the fifth spot in the St. Louis rotation, and some were thinking he would be a candidate for National League Rookie of the Year.
The Cardinals had high hopes for Reyes, and obviously, this is not the sort of news any team wants early in camp. However, St. Louis has a rotation that is mostly set -- Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake and Lance Lynn are penciled in for the first four spots.
The Reyes injury leaves Michael Wacha as the leading candidate for the fifth spot. Wacha dealt with shoulder issues in 2016 and went 7-7 with a 5.09 ERA. The Cardinals need him to bounce back, because their other fifth-spot options are not great -- 23-year-old Luke Weaver, who struggled in eight starts last year, and former closer Trevor Rosenthal.
Tying this news back to the White Sox, every time some team has a pitching injury this spring, my reaction is going to be the same: "Hmmmm ... might this team be interested in Jose Quintana?"
So, would the Cardinals be interested in Quintana? Yeah, of course, who wouldn't? However, the Cardinals are not the type of organization that makes knee-jerk moves. They like to fill spots from within, and it seems unlikely they would want to send all their high-level prospects to the Sox for Quintana, even though the fit might be good on paper.
Unless, of course, one of their veterans at the top of the rotation gets hurt. Then they might start to feel desperate.
This situation illustrates the fact that Sox general manager Rick Hahn isn't necessarily wrong for holding on to Quintana going into the season. The market might heat up for him as we go along, because injuries and underperformance might cause certain clubs who think they have enough pitching right now to realize they don't.
Wait long enough, and you might have 10 suitors for Quintana instead of three or four. The gamble in that is the possibility that Quintana himself could get injured. But if Quintana stays healthy, and pitches like he usually does in the first half, there's an opportunity to create a bidding war among clubs at the July trade deadline.
There are potential risks and potential rewards in any strategy. The injury to Reyes is just the latest reminder of how important it is for teams to stockpile pitching.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Saturday, October 12, 2013
One of those head-scratching moments arose in the top of the 12th inning Friday night in St. Louis.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were tied 2-2 with the host Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLCS. Los Angeles outfielder Carl Crawford singled off St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn to lead off the top of the 12th.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly then asked Mark Ellis to bunt Crawford into scoring position, which he did. But guess what? That strategy played right into the Cardinals' hands. That opened up first base and allowed St. Louis manager Mike Matheny to walk the Dodgers' No. 3 hitter, Hanley Ramirez, intentionally. Ramirez is probably the most dangerous hitter Los Angeles has. If you're the Dodgers, don't you want him to take his hacks there? The intentional walk also set up a possible double play. That's exactly what happened. Michael Young bounced into a rally-killing double play. Inning over, game still tied.
I could maybe justify the bunt if Adrian Gonzalez was still hitting in the cleanup spot, just behind Ramirez, for the Dodgers. That would have been a pick-your-poison situation for Matheny. Pitch to Ramirez? Or walk Ramirez and take your chances with Gonzalez? That would have been a tough call, but Gonzalez had been lifted for a pinch runner earlier in the game. Deciding whether to pitch to Ramirez or Young is a significantly easier call to make, and Matheny made the obvious choice. Lynn made the pitch he needed to make and got out of trouble.
St. Louis eventually won 3-2 in 13 innings on a walk-off hit by right fielder Carlos Beltran. Right now, Beltran is probably the Cardinals' best hitter. He had all three RBIs in Friday's game. He made his presence felt. Meanwhile, Ramirez didn't get his chance in the 12th inning, and it was by his manager's own folly that the bat was taken out of his hands.
Mattingly had to know Matheny was going to walk Ramirez with a base open, right? It's a manager's job to think two or three moves ahead. So, knowing that, why would Mattingly open up first base by having Ellis bunt? I don't get it.