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Cardinal transactions from last week

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The Cardinals saw more movement at the MLB level than in recent weeks. Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte return from long absences from the team. Joey Butler is gone for good. Shane Robinson rejoins the team. Plus 2 minor league releases, other minor league moves, some potential upcoming moves, and a look at some former Cardinals.

Here are the Cardinal transactions between May 18 and 24, courtesy of Matt Eddy of Baseball America, Brian Walton of the Cardinal Nation and the St. Louis Cardinals.

May 18:

  • St. Louis (MLB) activated LHP Jaime Garcia from the 15-day DL.
  • St. Louis (MLB) demoted RHP Jorge Rondon to Memphis (AAA).
  • Memphis (AAA) placed RHP Jose Almarante on the 7-day DL.
  • Springfield (AA) released C Jonathan Keener.
  • Peoria (Lo A) demoted RHP Jhonny Polanco to State College (SS A).
  • State College (SS A) promoted RHP Jeff Rauh to Peoria (Lo A).

Garcia has come back at the right time, with Tyler Lyons going out the previous week and Joe Kelly having a slow return. Granted, Garcia has admitted that he’ll probably never pitch without pain, which might make him a safer option out of the bullpen.

May 19:

  • St. Louis (MLB) demoted LHP Sam Freeman to Memphis (AAA).
  • Peoria (Lo A) released OF Matthew Young.
  • State College (SS A) promoted OF Vaughn Bryan to Peoria (Lo A).

Freeman was demoted in anticipation of the next day’s transaction…

May 20:

  • St. Louis (MLB) activated RHP Jason Motte from the 15-day DL.
  • Palm Beach (Hi A) demoted RHP Luis Perdomo to State College (SS A).
  • Peoria (Lo A) demoted 1B Jake Stone to State College (SS A).
  • State College (SS A) promoted 1B Luke Voit to Palm Beach (Hi A).
  • Johnson City (R) promoted 1B Justin Ringo to Peoria (Lo A).

Motte will be a blessing to have back. While he won’t probably be the same pitcher for a while, Mike Matheny’s bullpen usage needs as many capable relievers as possible. Motte will eventually work his way to high leverage situations, but expect him to be used in low stress situations.

May 21:

  • St. Louis (MLB) demoted OF Joey Butler to Memphis (AAA).
  • Memphis (AAA) promoted OF Shane Robinson to St. Louis (MLB).
  • Springfield (AA) promoted RHP Kurt Heyer to Memphis (AAA).
  • Peoria (Lo A) demoted RHP Jeff Rauh to State College (SS A).
  • Peoria (Lo A) activated C Gerwuins Velazco from the 7-day DL.
  • Peoria (Lo A) placed OF Ronald Castillo on the 7-day DL.
  • State College (Hi A) promoted RHP Jhonny Polanco to Peoria (Lo A).

Butler was probably never going to get a real shot with the team, and it might be reasonable to assume Robinson has pictures of someone in the organization. The team already has 2 similar players on the team in Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay, and one of them is on the bench every game. Butler at least offered a little more power than the alternatives.

May 22:

  • No transactions.

May 23:

  • St. Louis (MLB) sold the contract of OF Joey Butler to Orix in Japan.

And like that, Butler is gone. Even when he comes back to the states, he’ll be a minor league free agent and available to the other 29 teams. It would be reasonable to assume if they had not sold his contract, he’d probably have been removed from the 40-man roster again and become a free agent.

May 24:

  • St. Louis (MLB) placed LHP Kevin Siegrist on the 15-day DL.
  • Memphis (AAA) promoted LHP Sam Freeman to St. Louis (MLB).
  • Palm Beach (Hi A) placed C Casey Rasmus on the Temporary Inactive list.
  • Gulf Coast League (R) promoted C Jose Godoy to Palm Beach (Hi A).

Losing Siegrist does not help the bullpen situation, but this should finally get Freeman a real shot of showing what he can do, either as a late inning guy or LOOGY. Freeman, while wild at times, has shown flashes as a good late inning reliever that can get righties or lefties out; there just hasn’t been a spot for him or a manager that will see what he can do.

Other Notes:

Hopefully Oscar Taveras will be listed in a future edition of this column; the outfielder is hitting well at Memphis and would be an immediate upgrade to the lineup. The best opportunity will be the road trip to AL cities coming up when the team needs a designated hitter; there is absolutely no one on that bench that would be a capable DH. The other option already on the 40-man would be Randal Grichuk, but the contact concerns are still there. The best option could be to getting rid of Jay or Bourjos, using one of Taveras or Grichuk in center, and starting the other (of Taveras and Grichuk) as the DH.

Grichuk is the better option over Piscotty since the latter is not on the 40-man roster; while there is an opening due to the Butler sale, the team would be better served to promote David Aardsma. Aardsma has an MLB track record and is pitching well right now. He’s also facing an opt out date of his minor league contract next month. If he’s able to leave and has success with another club, it would be another black mark on John Mozeliak’s resume of building a bullpen.

Former Cardinals:

Daric Barton, 1B, Oakland Athletics: Barton was the key prospect that brought Mark Mulder to the Cardinals. After a couple of serviceable seasons with Oakland, Barton stopped getting on base and gradually lost playing time to Brandon Moss. The acquisition of Kyle Blanks pushed Barton off the 40-man roster this past week.

Blaine Boyer, RHP, San Diego Padres: The Padres added Boyer to their 40-man roster last week after trading Blanks; Boyer is a mop up guy at this point of his career. It’s something that the Cardinals were hoping for during his short tenure where he couldn’t get anyone out.

Ryan Kulik, LHP, Colorado Rockies: Kulik was a Cardinal farm hand that was released a few years ago. He made his way to the Indy Leagues, where he pitched well enough to receive a minor league deal from the Rockies prior to spring training. He was released at the end of the spring and went back to Camden of the Atlantic League; after a quick start, the Rockies signed him back.

Chris Swauger, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: Swauger was a depth piece of the Cardinals until his release on May 1st; while listed as an outfielder, Swauger also saw time at catcher and first base in the Cardinals system. He’ll provide depth to the Phillies system now, probably starting at Double A.

Raul Valdes, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays: Valdes somehow made the big league team a few years ago, but was let go after a quick stint. He’s bounced around a little, most recently starting the season on the Astros’ 25-man roster. After a slow start, he was designated for assignment and traded to the Blue Jays for cash.

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