Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Better 201st Post - Anthony Reyes

Let me pull out my old moniker (The AngryRant, for those of you new to the site) to discuss Anthony Reyes for a moment.

As you know, Reyes was sent back to AAA Memphis on 4 May. He wasn't happy about it, and I don't blame him; I don't think his performance was so bad it merited his being demoted. But let's look at the data to see what it tells us.

In his first 6 appearances, he pitched very well. He did have a hiccup in his second, against the Nationals; he gave up a 1 out 2 run HR to Flores, Washington's catcher. He got the next guy out and was replaced by LaRussa, getting credit for a hold.

For his first 6 games, his line looked like this:

9 2/3 IP, 3R (all earned), 8 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 2 holds, 1 save, 1-0 overall record, 2.79 ERA, WHIP 0.93.

Pretty darn good.

LaRussa at least evinced some faith in him then, using him in tight, close games. You get holds only if you come into the game in a save situation; his save was in the 10th inning against the Giants, who the Cardinals had trouble with (they went 4-3 against St Louis this season). Reyes was pitching about every 3 days to start the season. Since he had gone through spring training as a starter, I thought that was a reasonable approach to a kid now shifted to the bullpen, as you work him into working on consecutive days.

Reyes' 6th appearance was as the long man out of the pen, spelling Looper after Loop gave up 6 runs in the third to those same Giants. He pitched as he had in the previous 5, but he was working on 4 days rest.

It's his next appearance that apparently did him in. Entering in the 8th, against Pittsburgh's 4-5-6 hitters, he gave up 4 hits, one loud flyball, and a groundout. The damage might have been worse had Schumaker not cut down Mientkiewiez at second trying to stretch a single into a double.

After that, he pitched at the back end of 2 blowouts, and got sent down.

Why would a poor outing after 6 good ones get him reassigned? Putting on my JFK "there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll" conspiracy hat, doesn't this ooze something nefarious?

It's almost as if LaRussa and Duncan gave Reyes just enough rope to hang himself. It's no secret neither one of them trust Reyes, otherwise why would he have spent the better part of 2 seasons wearing out the road between St Louis and Memphis? If they really bought into Reyes as a top-flight pitching prospect, why did they not let him work out his problems in 2006 and 2007 at the big league level, like other teams have done with Edwin Jackson, Cole Hamels, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and several other young pitchers over the past 4 years?

But they didn't; they turned him into a yo-yo, and in the process sapped his confidence to the point he was a wreck last season.

And this year was even crueller. The kid worked his butt off in spring training but would have been sent down anyway if not for the intervention of Mozeliak at the start of the season. So LaRussa and Duncan (seemingly, I have no proof of this) went into a dark room and decided to let the kid pitch out of the bullpen until he made enough of a mistake to justify sending him down.

Which he did in that game against the Pirates.

1-1, 2 holds, 1 save, 1 really bad inning, and back to Memphis you go. Obviously I think he got the shaft...again.

He's pitched only once since returning to Memphis - 3 shutout innings in an abbreviated start on 9 May (4 hits, 3 walks, 3 K). He should start again Thursday (Memphis is off tomorrow) at home against Oklahoma City.

Clearly I want him to have a chance to succeed at the Major League level for the Cardinals. I think he's good enough and the team was foolish for cycling him between St Louis and Memphis last year (yes I know he was 2-14 in 20 starts over 107+ innings). But it may well be time to trade him away, especially if he continues to have this to look forward to as long as LaRussa and Duncan are in charge in St Louis.

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