The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

What does the Trevor Rosenthal promotion mean?

As many St. Louis Cardinals fans already know, right-handed pitching prospect Trevor Rosenthal has been promoted from Double-A Springfield to the big league bullpen. Maikel Cleto was optioned to Memphis, with Jaime Garcia being moved to the 60-day disabled list to clear a 40-man roster spot.

The unusual move has led to a number of questions today, so I decided to jot down my thoughts here.

What does this say about Rosenthal’s recent past?

It indicates to me that the organization is pleased with his progress since his impressive spring training in major league camp. With Springfield recently, Rosenthal has been walking fewer batters and pitching deeper into games, both very positive. He was the organization’s May Pitcher of the Month and made the Texas League All-Star team. There was a minor scare earlier in the month when Rosenthal injured his lower back in the weight room, but he returned strong after missing just one start.

What does this say about Rosenthal today?

The organization is willing to make the unusual step of promoting a player from Double-A directly to the bigs. The only time I can recall this happening in recent years was a short-term emergency move with catcher Steven Hill a couple of years ago. (Update: There is another. A reader reminded me that just prior to Cleto’s brief June 2011 MLB debut, he was pitching in Springfield’s rotation.)

The Cardinals must believe that the 22-year-old Rosenthal is an unusual individual, able to handle all that goes with such a move, or they would not risk it.

What does this say about Rosenthal’s future?

In case Rosenthal stumbles, damage can be limited in a pen role. Even so, if/when he has to go down, it may be to Memphis, where he can continue to grow. If he does well with St. Louis, it can position him to join the rotation fight for 2013, just as Lance Lynn did the year before.

I do not see this move as showcasing Rosenthal for trade partners. It would seem to indicate to me just the opposite – that he is highly-valued and is not going to be traded.

What does this say about Jaime Garcia?

The left-hander has already been out over 40 days (since June 6), so this move to the 60-day DL only means he cannot return until after the first week of August. I honestly don’t know if/when he will be back this season. A left shoulder strain sounds a lot less concerning than rotator cuff tears.

What does this say about Shelby Miller?

It says what we already knew. Miller isn’t yet ready for the bigs and is better served to continue to work on his pitches in Memphis. I don’t see how Rosenthal has any long-term meaning to Miller, who remains a very valuable prospect in his own right. Yes, Rosenthal and Joe Kelly have passed him up, at least temporarily. But we should not forget that Miller is still just 21 years of age and I believe is still the youngest starting pitcher in Triple-A.

What does this say about Memphis?

The Cardinals have already tried Brandon Dickson and Chuckie Fick and apparently do not want more of the same. Adam Reifer hasn’t returned to his pre-2011 injury form. John Gaub is a waiver-wire claim lefty who hasn’t pitched as well as Barret Browning, already in St. Louis. That is it for 40-man roster pitching options.

What does this say about the state of the bullpen?

Obviously, the pen has been shaky. The club has played 63 one- and two-run games and has lost 15 more of them than they have won (24-39). A simple .500 record in such games would have given the Cardinals at least a 2 ½ game division lead and would put them just one win off the most in MLB.

As noted above, there are no decent new options available at Memphis. Could Rosenthal be any worse than the current choices?

What does this say about the Cardinals’ 40-man roster?

The 40-man remains full. There are no other players that could be moved to the 60-day DL when lefty Brian Fuentes is ready – assuming he shows he is ready in the next two weeks. Someone will have to be taken off at that time – unless a trade in the interim opens up a spot.

(See the Cardinals Roster Matrix here.)

What does this say about the Cardinals in the trade market?

Ideally, nothing. Rosenthal is available to join the club immediately. Trades take time. There are many teams looking for pitching help and prices are likely high. If the Cards do acquire a veteran, Rosenthal or several others could easily be optioned out.

Hopefully, even if Rosenthal does well in his initial few outings, the club will continue on its primary path (to acquire veteran bullpen help). Expecting a young man just up from Double-A – one who spent the entire 2011 season in the Class-A Midwest League – to solve all the major league team’s relief problems is unreasonable.

Follow me on Twitter.
Follow The Cardinal Nation Blog on Facebook.

82 Responses to “What does the Trevor Rosenthal promotion mean?”

  1. crdswmn says:

    So, Rosenthal up and Cleto down. Trade deadline in two weeks. Will Mo make a move for a right handed reliever like Huston Street? The starting pitcher talk has died down, so I have to assume unless Mo gets made an offer he can’t refuse, our rotation isn’t going to change.

    Assuming Fuentes is brought up, another 40 man move will have to be made. Perhaps release John Gaub? If a trade is made, and no 40 man player is involved in the trade, then another move. Hamilton? Kozma? Interesting scenarios coming up perhaps.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I would not rule out a starting pitcher being acquired with a current starter moving to relief. For example, did anyone have any inkling that Jake Westbrook was a target before the moment his trade was announced? How about Kyle Lohse? Edwin Jackson? etc…

      • crdswmn says:

        I’m not ruling it out. I did see an article by Ken Rosenthal the other day that said the Cardinals were “cooling” on the idea of acquiring a starting pitcher.

        The only rumor I’ve heard recently involving the Cardinals is on Jason Vargas. Would not be my favorite choice.

        • kray66 says:

          Another news site had a big recap of the potential guys on the trading block and the interested parties. The Cardinals weren’t mentioned in the entire article. Not sure if that’s due to the usual snub from the national sites, or because there’s no real activity going on.

          I’m not sure what I think they need (as if that really matters) but I guess I’d like to think there’s something going on behind the scenes to help us push for the playoffs.

      • kray66 says:

        Yeah, I still kind of think a SP might be the best answer, with moving Lynn to the BP. I’ll be interested to see how the ASG break affected Lynn. Did he rest a bit and be able to remain effective into the second half, or will he continue to decline as noted before the break?

    • Bw52 says:

      Of the mentioned names (Gaub,Kozma and Hamilton)I would ask which one has a real chance at coming in a being able to help if needed?
      Gaub LHP-not looking really like the lefty answer…………..although being a lefty might give him a longer look now…although several LHPs are coming up thru the system

      Kozma SS-former top pick……………hanging around at AAA not dazzling anybody that i have heard .Behind Furcal,Greene and Ryan Jackson and possibly Descalso……………..could he get a courtesy callup in September if he still on 40-man.

      Hamilton 1B-hitting with some power this year,average down. He has fallen behind Matt Adams in value IMO.His only value could be as lefty pinch bat off the bench and sometime 1B.

      So none of the three being dropped would shock me nor would seeing any of the 3 in STlouis in September.

      • Brian Walton says:

        Good analysis, Bw52. They all seem on the edge as you note. Each has a benefit – one is a lefty, the other a shortstop and the other a decent Triple-A bat. I’d go a bit further than you . Even if none of them are dropped, I’d be surprised to see any of the three in StL this year, barring a dramatic change in results or a boatload of injuries.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        Not talked about much but I would not be surprised to the Cards go out and get a utility middle infielder or veteran 2B. This would most likely mean moving Greene or sending Descalso down until September.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        Hamilton’s OPS since June 1st is in the 900′s. (though he is slumping again the last few games)

  2. blingboy says:

    A couple thoughts on Rosenthal, etc., but first, it cannot be disputed that little girls with pigtails and puppy dogs could have dropped three to the Reds.

    Now as to Rosenthal. My grandson Trevor hasn’t been happy since Trever Miller tanked. He’s happy now, and noticed right away that, unlike Mrs. Miller, Mrs Rosenthal knows how to spell.

    Trevor would have been better off if he had been given a couple weeks to get used to coming out of the pen without any set schedule, coming into different situations, etc. He also would have benefitted from even a couple weeks facing AAA hitters. So why didn’t that happen? Most likely because his callup was not forseen. That tells us that things have not gone as Mo had thought. Either he has not been able to make the sort of move he planned on, or he has changed his mind and now needs time to work out something else.

    The play on the field is pretty much as it has been. No big names have moved. Just what Mo is up to is perplexing. But it might be that he has decided the offense needs a shake up, in addition to the pen help. Lets face it, the O is all about lots of smoke and little fire. It has been pointed out that we have a lot of boppers. True. Some have been around, and others have been given every reason to feel comfy and secure.

    Picture a bunch of gorillas lounging around under the trees. How to get their attention? There is only one thing that a gorilla has to pay attention to, and that’s another gorilla. So no, a complementary type position player is not the thing. We have those. A 2B? We have those. We have singles hitters and scrappy guys. Unless its the Furcal of second basemen. Guys to get on base is not the problem with the offense.

    Unlike in fantasy baseball, gorillas are not hired to put up big stats. They are hired to win games. Our gorillas have become quite shitty at that. Mo is aware of that, and I would not be surprised if he rattles their cage by introducing another one. Not a prime silverback. One with issues. Age, infirmity, inconsistancy, etc. Which would fit right in.

    Remember from last year that we don;t need to be the T-Rex untill the last day of the season.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    The Cards just got swept in important games. Mo feels pressure to make a move, just like last time, when he demoted Sanchez and some other guy and brought up Cleto and Browning.

    Rosenthal will need to be protected this November, so there is no harm in elevating him now.

    We brought McClellan up from AA to be a reliever. Further back in time, it was Al Hrabosky. If you have a good arm at AA and need some help in the ML bullpen, you can pull from AA.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      It was Freeman and Sanchez who took the fall when we were blown out at home on a Friday night.

      Tonight, Matheny has wisened up. Yesterday I suggested putting Skip in CF and Descalso at 2b. Tonight it is so. The problem is Jay is playing hurt and a shadow of himself.

  4. Bw52 says:

    Somebody needs to wake up the offense.Another pitiful exhibition of hitting.Disgusting.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Bw, it is disgusting.

      Yadier Molina has been terrific, but can’t do it all by himself. Molina is one of our key advantage guys.

      Another was Jon Jay. He may be in uniform, but he is not the same guy he was before running into a wall. The injury to Jay is a real problem, because the Cards not only need another pitcher or two, but need to make a change in CF.

      • blingboy says:

        Don’t they have a CF in springfield? Probably could have got a deal on two air fares.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Rosenthal can come up to face a batter or two or three. It may be iffier to elevate Oscar. However, as I learned from Brian, Oscar grew up in Montreal, so he may be a bit more worldly than I had suspected.
          We also have Chambers at AAA who has hit well there.

          I think Jay should head to the DL. If not hitting well, his shoulder must still be a problem. Put him on the DL and get him the medical treatment he deserves. Its Rolen 2005 Redux.

    • WesPowell says:

      Never be disgusted until the game is over. And not even then.

  5. blingboy says:

    Singles, walks and bloops are a lot better than nothing.

  6. blingboy says:

    Nice job in the 9th by Motte.

  7. WesPowell says:

    To have a comeback win like that following a tough, tough sweep is superlative.

  8. WesPowell says:

    Although I’ll grant you that “treading water” is positive next to “disgusting.”

    On the other hand “disgusting” is pretty weak competition.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Its not just Jumbo. Mo got disgusted and brought up Rosenthal. Other than Molina, the O has been weak. Changes have to be made.

      Its always good to beat the Brewers in Milwaukee. Nice to demoralize them. Sweet.

    • Bw52 says:

      Disgusting pretty well describes how the Cards have played IMHO.The yo-yo extreme going from poor pitching and good hitting to poor hitting and good pitching is disgusting.Jumbo is absolutely right………………………unless the Cards find a way to be consistent the team will do nothing but tread water.Somebody needs to step up and be a difference maker…………………….to start the team on a winning streak…………………..maybe the comeback last nite can be a starting point.

  9. WesPowell says:

    Stretches of weak offense are that dad-burned reality thing we were discussing the other day. The team has weathered it well. Our last 2 wins we scored 3 in the ninth to win by 1, and the sweep to the Reds we scored 7 total runs and could have won any of them.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Stretches of weak offense can sometimes be explained by personnel issues. Jay is playing hurt and is not going to get better, because of the nature of his injury. The Cards should go with a scrappy platoon in CF of Skip and Shane. Carlos Beltran needs some days off to rest his chronic weak knee; this can be done now Craig and MCarp are available off the bench.
      Furcal’s offense has cooled. He could use a day a week on the bench, to get more at bats for Greene and Descalso, to make them better contributors. MCarp can also give Beefcake Freese a few days off.
      These are ways to cope with dad-burned reality.

      • Brian Walton says:

        You have stated repeatedly that Jay is playing hurt. Do you have anything concrete to support that? If not, it would be better not to represent your supposition as fact.

        Looking at his 2012 numbers, what catches my eye is a very large split between home and away: .849 OPS at Busch, just .611 on the road.

        Yes, he had a great first month before the injury, but it was miles above his career norm. Players have hot streaks in which they play above their normal level. Perhaps that was the case for Jay.

        Overall, his 2012 OPS of .740 is not appreciably different from his career mark of .768.

        • blingboy says:

          Brian, although you recognize Jay’s hot start, I think you are letting those April numbers influence your thinking of his season since then, especially the trend line.

          May/June/July OPS/AVG: .665/.280, .566/.241, .606/.200. In other words, since April his numbers are well below his career norms and trending down.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Brian, please never refer to a 3rd year player’s “career norm.”

          Jay had a rookie season and a sophomore season. He had a batting average each year of around .300, excellent for a young player.

          He took it up a notch and was outstanding in April, then ran into a wall and separated his right shoulder. This provides sufficient medical reason for reduced performance. The Cards shot him full of cortisone, to keep him playing. At some point the pain became so great they DL’d him to reduce the inflamation. Jay’s is not an injury like Skip’s and Matt Carpenter’s, a muscle pull that will heal in time.

          The Cards have a track record for downplaying injuries, particularly shoulders. There was Rolen in 2005. This year, Carpenter could not heal himself and finally needed an operation. McClellan after months on the DL needed a shoulder capsule operation. Probably after Jay continues to under-perform, the Cards will finally announce he needs a shoulder operation. Its their modus operandi, over years.

          One possible wild card: Oscar. Like we lifted Rosenthal from AA to the pen, we could lift Oscar to CF to make up for the serious injury incurred by Jay.

      • Brian Walton says:

        Here are Jay’s 2011 monthly OPSs. Notice how his May last year stood out. He wasn’t hurt last June, was he?

        April 2011: .691
        May 2011: 1.017
        June 2011: .658
        July 2011: .759
        August 2011: .661
        Sept 2011: .793

        Why is one not like all the others?

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Jay had 3 months, a half season, with his OPS above 700, fine for a CF. Three other months were in the 600s, nothing major when coupled with the higher three months. A very good hitter. He had a spike in May and a fine season overall, during 2011.

          This is what makes his shoulder separation that is marring his potential during 2012 so disappointing.

        • easton714 says:

          Boy, and to think some swell guy argued ad nauseum this off-season that Jay’s “up” periods were more likely the anomaly than the “down”.

          I am sure you could dig up my old posts, since I cannot, to make your point for you.

  10. blingboy says:

    Lance is doing an admirable job of eating innings and putting up quality starts. That is the kind of guy Mo is thought by some to be looking for. Searching high and low.

    Mighty Joe comes out of nowhere and consitently does a nice job keeping us in games with a chance to win every five days. I see where some think Mo should be out there looking for that kind of guy. He could offer Joe Kelly for trade bait they say.

    On another note, Shelby had a nice start a couple days ago. I think it was 1 or 2 hits over 5. Walked a couple. Ks down. Nothing on whether he was using secondary stuff to effect, but I think he might have been. Tyrell Jenkins might be getting it together after having a tuff first half, including some DL time. He just had a nice start too.

    No need to get too worried about the end of July trade deadline. Last August Mo rooted through the rotten fish heads and found Arthur. A majical moment that perhaps could be repeated this year.

  11. blingboy says:

    I also meant to point out that Skip looked great sliding accros the plate with the winner sporting the stirrups. The real McCoy too.

  12. crdswmn says:

    Up until the 9th inning last night, I was convinced Bud Selig had taken the entire Cardinals offense and replaced them with the Seattle Mariners when no one was looking. Those first 8 innings were pathetic.

    I hope we have seen the last of that offense, whoever they were.

    • blingboy says:

      They were the flabby gorillas, living large, enjoying life. I’m glad they plunked a couple dinks and drew a couple walks. I take no issue with those who consider the overall performance of the O last night less than pathetic, but I don’t agree.

  13. blingboy says:

    The trade market is really dead. In that national article that quoted Mo, he talked about how the elimination of draft picks for losing a rental after the season really has people scratching their heads. Reluctant to give up prospects when you aren’t going to get the picks to compensate.

    It sounds like nobody wants to be the first in case they end up looking bad for over-paying.

    Perhaps it is just the slow to develop market that prompted Mo to bring in Trevor to tide things over.

    As a corollary, teams will have to consider the newfound difficulty in profitably dumping salary when considering signing guys to a big money contract.

    • blingboy says:

      Here’s a better link

    • crdswmn says:

      Bill James is being roundly excoriated by the baseball community for those comments. Many are a calling for the Red Sox to fire him, but so far they are resisting that, basically just telling him to shut his trap. Keith Law said on Twitter that James has ruined his reputation forever.

      • Brian Walton says:

        One of James’ proteges, Rob Neyer, has been defending James. I don’t know if there is any past history between Law and James.

        Too bad public figures in one area get so much attention for controversial comments in other areas unrelated to their expertise. This isn’t the first time, nor the last.

        Personally, I don’t care what any of them think about pedophilia, Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno and Penn State. I can read the reports and draw my own conclusions without “help” from a sabermetric pioneer.

        • crdswmn says:

          I think when you are a public figure, you need to be more careful than the average person about certain issues. I can’t think of an issue more suited for keeping your mouth shut on, when it is not your area of focus, than a case involving multiple counts of child molestation and rape, especially if your opinion is so far out of the mainstream. He was not just defending Paterno, but he at least appeared to be defending practices that to the majority of mainstream Americans are repugnant. Given all of that, I believe James exercised very poor judgment. Whether it ruins his reputation forever remains to be seen.

      • blingboy says:

        Obviously, James has no grasp of the importance of enablers to long term criminals, including pedophiles.

    • kray66 says:

      It’s frightening to read a few of the comments on that site. There’s just no excuse for what happened at PSU. None. The actions of one man, covered up/ignored/minimalized by a few other men have ruined the reputation of thousands of students, players, and alumni of that school.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Joe Paterno was fundamentally responsible for the Sandusky horror.

        • CariocaCardinal says:

          For me, Jo Pa earned enough respect with his character in other areas for me to give him the benefit of the doubt. If he were around to answer the accusations against him I’d expect him to give a full explanation and accounting and then I’d reevaluate. Unfortunately he is not here to do that so I will continue to withhold judgement. I am not saying he is innocent but I also don’t think a man of his character should be condemned without the chance to defend himself. The bottom line is we most likely will never know. I can live with. In this period where everyone thinks they have a right to and deserve closure that is probably not enough for some though. I can live without knowing though.

  14. blingboy says:

    Back to Roenthal and the topic of the article. An article on the main site mentions that the two quickest journeys ever from low-A Quad Cities to the show are Joe Kelly, just under two years, and Trevor Rosenthal, 10 months.

    This could relate to the question of what does the Rosenthal promotion mean. Maybe it could be expanded to ask: What do the speedy promotions of Kelly and Rosenthal mean?

    I’m still mulling that over, but it seems like factors other than coincidence could be at work.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I want to take nothing away from Rosenthal, who is an incredible talent. However, a part of the meteoric rise was due to the Cardinals keeping him all year at Quad Cities in 2011 while they were promoting pretty much every other pitching prospect at least once, sometimes twice.

      • blingboy says:

        Any explaination as to why he was kept there?

        • Brian Walton says:

          He had only pitched 24 and 32 innings, respectively, his prior two seasons as a pro. They apparently wanted him to get his feet on the ground, which seems to have been a good move. It also didn’t hurt that Quad Cities was going for a title and he, Taveras and Wong were part of the reason they won.

          • blingboy says:

            I’m surprised people aren’t demanding that Rosenthal be put in the rotation and Kelly moved to the pen. Or have I just missed it? Thankfully, the Lynn to the pen wackos seem to be back on their medication.

            • Nutlaw says:

              Has Kelly struggled enough to deserve a demotion to the pen? I mean, he tends to have a rough go of things, but he gets the job done.

              • blingboy says:

                I’ve become frustrated with reading and hearing about how Mo could improve the pen by getting a starter and moving somebody, presumably Joe, to the pen. Before that it was move Lance to the pen. Before that it was trade Westbrook or Lohse for a steady starter.

                We are not losing games because of our rotation. I hope Mo has sharper focus.

  15. crdswmn says:

    Latest on Cardinals trade rumors.

    http://mlbbuzz.yardbarker.com/blog/mlbbuzz/article/cardinals_monitoring_pitching_market/11234236?new_post=true

    If those are our only two choices, I would rather have Wandy. I have watched Vargas pitch a great deal ( I watch Mariners games occasionally to watch Brendan Ryan). Vargas is about the equivalent of a left handed Jake Westbrook without the sinker ball. Any time he pitches, it is a crap shoot in what you are going to get.

    • kray66 says:

      And keep in mind whoever is invloved with a trade to/from the Astros won’t come back to haunt either team as badly since they won’t be in the NL Central next year. That seems to pop up whenever trade rumors are discussed between teams in the same division, but the Astros are in a unique spot this year. We could get a guy familiar wtih the division, and the Astros won’t have to worry about facing him next year (at least not as often). And if we give up a prospect that pans out great, we won’t have as much of a reminder of what could have been.

    • blingboy says:

      If Wandy can drive in runs I’m all for it.

      I’m imagining the

    • blingboy says:

      I’m imagining the Cards bus stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire and Mo shows up with a can of gas.

  16. blingboy says:

    Disgusting. Two guys can’t get a fly ball and all we can do in the end is send up a .220 hitter.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      It was K-Rod at the end, not Axford, who lost his closer role thanks to the previous evening. K-Rod beat Skip with some good pitches. Frustrating. I am not grinning.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.