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Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Tallet

An imaginary conversation about the St. Louis Cardinals’ new left-handed reliever, Brian Tallet – using real facts.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Brian Tallet to a one year contract. The 33-year-old had become a free agent a few weeks ago after his home for the last five years, the Toronto Blue Jays, had designated him for assignment. Tallet instead declared himself a free agent.

Based on initial comments by general manager John Mozeliak, the Cardinals seem to have Tallet lined up to serve as a left-handed specialist, replacing free agent Dennys Reyes.

After almost 24 hours to consider the move from a number of angles, I find it to be a Jeckyll and Hyde situation. Here’s a snapshot of how a Tallet discussion might have gone between the two (if they hadn’t been one).

Hyde: Tallet allowed a whopping 20 home runs in 77 innings in 2010.

Jeckyll: But he yielded just four of those to left-handed batters.

Hyde: In 2010, right-handed hitters battered him to the tune of .320/.415/.617.

Jeckyll: And lefties managed a paltry .176/.228/.343.

Hyde: He had an awful 25:32 strikeout to walk ratio versus RHH.

Jeckyll: He struck out 28 LHH and walked just six of them.

Hyde: Last season at his old home, Rogers Centre, his opposing line was an ugly .306/.375/.647.

Jeckyll: Everywhere else, including regular visits to Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, his numbers were ok – .232/.331/.377.

Hyde: He was torched as a reliever in 2010, with an opposing OPS of .927 out of the pen with a .796 OPS as a starter. Yet relief is the role in which the Cardinals plan to use him.

Jeckyll: He wasn’t kept in a consistent role last season. Besides, his career starter/reliever splits are much more as expected. .791 opposing OPS starting versus .744 OPS while relieving.

Hyde: His fastball over the past four years has fallen from 90.1 MPH to 89.4 to 88.6 to 86.7 and his ground ball rates have dropped each year as well.

Jeckyll: His 2010 results were atypical because he suffered a forearm injury early in the season and altered his arm slot to compensate for it.

Hyde: So he pitches while injured despite it hurting his team? Are his medical problems behind him? Did you examine him yourself, Doctor?

Jeckyll: Enough of this! I am taking the lead now. First of all, stats for Tallet as a starter don’t matter since the Cardinals will use him as a specialist.

Hyde: Leading off an inning against Tallet in relief last season, first batters’ OPS was 1.300 and the OPS of his first hitters faced in all relief situations was still .904.

Jeckyll: Well, Tallet no longer has to pitch in the American League East.

Hyde: Cincinnati’s star left-handed hitters Jay Bruce (.899 OPS in 2010) and Joey Votto (.863 OPS) handle lefty pitchers just fine.

Jeckyll: His career splits are more favorable, with a .780 OPS versus right-handed hitters and a .730 OPS against left-handed batters.

Hyde: Which pitcher will we see in 2011, then?

Jeckyll: Tallet was consistent in 2010.

Hyde: I have to agree as long as you mean consistently rough. His monthly ERA was always between 5.94 and 7.24 and his opponents’ OPS ranged from .834 to .969 each month.

Jeckyll: Well, he is inexpensive at just $750,000 – a bargain compared to Reyes at $2 million.

Hyde: Sometimes you get what you pay for. The money saved won’t land Albert Pujols so will they at least use the difference on another left-handed alternative?

Jeckyll: The Cardinals may still sign another lefty.

Hyde: And they may not…

Poll: How comfortable are you with Brian Tallet as the Cards’ second lefty reliever?

View Results

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