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

On Shelby Miller, major leaguer

It is a fine art, trying to glean meaningful clues from baseball officials. The St. Louis Cardinals are no exception.

Very recently, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak stated that it was “unlikely” that his organization would be adding a player to the 40-man roster for purposes of a September call up.

We were reminded of the GM’s remark by as recently as two days ago.

Its context was most relevant in the case of the Cardinals’ top prospect coming into 2012, right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller, though some hoped Double-A outfielder Oscar Taveras might be included as well.

On Sunday, the Post-Dispatch reported that Miller will indeed be added to the 40-man roster and will join St. Louis on Tuesday. Triple-A Memphis’ season ends on Monday, but Miller is not scheduled to pitch for them again.

Miller’s very strong August has been recognized by many. That included me when I named him The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month and the Pacific Coast League, which anointed the Texan as their Pitcher of the Week twice last month.

The 21-year-old has apparently been repairing damaged organizational confidence in him regarding matters such as maturity and pitch selection, but recovery isn’t an overnight thing. Earlier, the concerns were great enough that Miller was reportedly made available at the trade deadline.

In terms of results, Miller pitches just once every five days, so he has had at most one or two outings since Mozeliak seemed to close the door on the likelihood of his MLB debut in 2012.

So what changed?

Apparently, a little bit here and there added up to enough to tip the scale in the other direction. There were some in the organization who wanted to see Miller in St. Louis in September and those supportive voices must have drowned out those who were against it.

The Cardinals are almost surely going to use Miller sparingly in September. After all, they are in a pennant chase and that isn’t the time to experiment. Yet Miller will get to be around the major league club and perhaps throw a few innings in a blowout or two. The real benefits may occur in 2013 and beyond.

The bottom line is that the organization has seen enough of a change in Miller to change their own minds and take the big step with their 2009 first-round draft pick now rather than later.

That is good enough for me, but Miller is the one who has to make his first impression as an official major leaguer.

All eyes will be on him.

(Note: The Cardinal Nation blog readers had this move pegged back in February. Provided with 11 different scenarios for Miller’s MLB introduction, the one that received the most votes is the one that will apparently come to pass this week.)

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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38 Responses to “On Shelby Miller, major leaguer”

  1. blingboy says:

    What the hell, why not.

  2. blingboy says:

    I don’t see the need to assume Miller’s role will be limited to mop up. It would be sensible to let him break in in his accustomed role.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Isn’t his accustomed role starting every fifth day? That isn’t going to happen this month. Mop up is clearly at the opposite end of the spectrum. Perhaps he will end up something in between, but he will have to earn it, I suspect.

      • blingboy says:

        You describe a rather undignified debut for a top prospect.

        Might the opportunity to deliver a jolt be worth a try? I really can’t wee any other reason for the 180.

        • Brian Walton says:

          How did Trevor Rosenthal debut? He is a top prospect, too. In fact, he passed Miller in terms of progress this year. So if the Cards wanted to roll the dice on another rookie starter in the final month of a pennant race, why wouldn’t it be Rosenthal instead of Miller? At least they know Rosenthal can handle major league hitters. Miller is a complete MLB unknown at this point.

          • crdswmn says:

            Agree. Frankly, I don’t see the need at this point. The bullpen is fine when Matheny uses them correctly. What they need are hitters and someone to play MIF. Miller may be no more than window dressing. Starting his clock when it isn’t necessary seems kind of pointless to me.

          • blingboy says:

            It would be Rosenthal if the objective were to roll the dice on another starter, so that’s not it.

            If the goal were to see what Miller’s got, then having him come in here and there in low pressure relief roles wouldn’t tell much, so that’s not it either.

            The other two possibilities i can think of are that it has been decided to let Shelby experience the MLB scene rather than go home, or the need to deliver a jolt to a lifeless team by suddenly bringing him up and giving him a start.

            I don’t see any reason to assume the former, but admit that could be it. Would be kinda anticlimatic after all the Shelby-mania last year. A wasted opportunity perhaps. Something needs to be done, after all.

  3. CariocaCardinal says:

    Is attendance that bad?

  4. crdswmn says:

    Ruh roh, rookie pitcher going for the Mets today. Bad news for the Cardinals.

  5. blingboy says:

    If Strauss is to be believed, there is some grumbling in the clubhouse.

    When you have 13 pitchers you’re not losing because you need more arms.

    Dusty Baker is never right, but its looking like TLR was even less right.

    • crdswmn says:

      Strauss is a drama queen.

      • blingboy says:

        Yes. But not a lier. I take it as true that more than one player/uniformed employee voiced unambiguous complaints, either to or in the presense of media.

        The fact that players/uniformed employees would direct complaints toward the front office when the on field performance has been so wreched is a bad sign. A disconnect from reality. Failure to take personal responsibility. The general attitude that something needs to be done and somebody else needs to do it. Pathetic. Little girls with pigtails and butterfly nets.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          The reason reporters are gossip queens is because fans wallow in the mud.
          With youngsters like Miller, the Cards have to teach them via tough love, whereas fans want to spoil rookies. We had to get Miller’s attention at Memphis, because he was trying to throw it by them and giving up HRs. He had to use off-speed pitches, against sophisticated hitters. Now he knows and has pitched much better.
          Miller has earned a promotion, but when he gets to the majors, his place is at the bottom, just like any other rook. He needs to earn his way to a more important role in the majors. If he does well, he will earn more opportunity.

        • CariocaCardinal says:

          Direct complaint to the front office? Where did you see that? Strauss doesn’t even go as far to say that anyone actually said anything. Sounds like his personal musings to me.

    • blingboy says:

      Strauss mentioned the delay in calling up pen help again in his Wednesday chat, attributing substantial blame for Sunday’s loss on it. It was a gratuitous mention, included in his answer to an unrelated question.

      Still in question is whether he is pushing his own view or passing on his inside info about clubhouse angst.

      “The club loses a game on Sunday due in large part to a bullpen left unfortified after rosters expanded.”

      My opinion is that with 13 pitchers, any problem with coming up short would have to fall in the catagory of mis-management rather than not having enough arms. But, of course, it could be argued that with a rookie manager who has had some issues with pen usage, the value of extra help should have been anticipated by the front office. And if the clubhouse doesn’t see the FO as having a feeling of urgency, that alone is a failing on Mo’s part.

      I am wondering if the ‘someone should be screaming” for more arms’ was a veiled suggestion that MM needs to grow a pair in dealing with Mo.

      • Brian Walton says:

        I have no idea since I did not sense either fundamental assertion – that the pen was undermanned and that cost them the game.

        Seems to me the bigger problem was that the guys who were used on Sunday just didn’t pitch well enough. Specifically, all-star Lance Lynn could not start an inning and get three outs without runs scoring. Apparently we are led to believe that Matheny stayed with him for four hits and two runs because there was no one else available in relief? With Freeman added to the expanded roster on Saturday, they had one more pitcher on hand than they had over the first 130 games.

        Further, had the offense managed two more runs against Strasburg or three innings against the Nationals’ pen, the Cards would have won 5-4 and no one would be talking about this.

        Guess the Cards learned there is a reason that Washington has the best record in MLB.

        • blingboy says:

          My interest is not so much whether the alleged complaint is justified, but that it was made at all, and what does that imply.

          It is a very strange story line and I was quite surprised that Strauss brought it up again, especially since the subject had not been raised by a questioner. Still, I don’t think it is entirely a figment of his imagination, and he must think it a matter of significance.

          • Brian Walton says:

            As was noted more colorfully above by crdswmn and CC, we have no idea who actually said what and why.

            A team takes a tough loss and somebody allegedly lays off the blame on someone else.

            Without tagging a loss to it, which is opinion-based by its very definition, what does it matter?

            • blingboy says:

              I appreciate that crdswmn, and apparently CC, have issues with Strauss. But the way I read it, at least one player, probably more than one, and one uniformed non-player voiced complaints that the FO did not provide needed help when it could have.

              I don’t believe Strauss made that up, so it did happen, IMO. Also IMO, clubhouse complaints about the FO not doing its part, and/or that the FO was not pressed by field management to do what was needed is a significant matter, and cause for concern.

              Additionally, much has been made throughout the year of the team’s mediocre results given its talent level, evidenced by the run differential. The gross inconsistency in quality of play has been obvious. These things, underachievemant basically, suggest the possibility of some sort of clubhouse type situation which might be expected to bubble to the surface under the stress of all the health problems and post-season chase. So there is some background to give some plausibility to Strauss’s storyline.

              • Brian Walton says:

                One thing upon which we can probably agree – the team has underperformed for months based on its talent level. That seems the bigger picture issue than anonymous opinions about the number of relievers in one early September game.

                Maybe they need more mirrors. Each has to decide if they are best used to look into or to reflect the light on someone else.

          • crdswmn says:

            Who know why Strauss does anything other than to get attention for himself.

            Maybe he’s still pissed that David Freese blew him off the other day on an interview question and he’s inventing “trouble in River City” to explain it away. If you ask me, it is more likely that Freese just got tired of his crap.

            Strauss is just being Strauss.

  6. blingboy says:

    Mighty Joe will teach them some manners. Backed by six .300 hitters and Skip at .296. Then hammerin Dan, and jolt’n Joe himself. Lets hope Mo came down and confiscated the butterfly nets and nerf noodles.

    I’ve got a brisket in the smoker and a cold one at hand. Life is good.

  7. blingboy says:

    We will have to see where Miller lands on the roster matrix. He is a starter, of course, but may be playing out of position as a RP for the time being. Lynn is a starter being used in the pen, so he is in the starter column. I suppose that is how it goes.

  8. Bw52 says:

    So Boggs comes in and turns a 3 run lead into 1 immediately.Boggs had been the one guy who had been pitching pretty good most of the year.At this rate Cards won`t have to worry about the playoffs.Then the Millerites can watch him start.

  9. blingboy says:

    No clutch hitting.

    How many extra pitchers would we have to have for Motte to not have to go in the eighth? In other words, its not about how many.

  10. Nutlaw says:

    Well, that was a fun one. A bit closer than it would have suggested at first, but enjoyable nonetheless. Also, it’s always good to catch an SNY broadcast when able.

  11. blingboy says:

    Who will get more starts this month – Carp or Miller?

  12. blingboy says:

    Garcia has been on a steep downhill trajectory since coming back. He was great at home against the Pirates, then bad in Cincinnati, then terrible in Washington. If he gets bombed again I’d think its time to be concerned. Maybe the home game will help.

    I’m interested to see what happens when a loogy situation comes up. Scrabble got bumped out of the role last night, but Freeman didn’t help himself.

    And then there is Lynn the all-star. I figure he is going to have to shine in a mop up role to get back in the picture. But there is time. A Lynn/Cueto showdown to wrap up the regular season is mathmatically possible.

    The appeal call at first might be considered a lucky break, so maybe some good mojo will start coming our way. Its that time again, after all.

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