With several members of the Cardinals bullpen struggling, the focus has been on closer Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez. I have a surprise for you: Randy Choate is struggling too. Choate is a 38 year-old LOOGY, and one of Matheny’s ‘guys’. For those of you who are wondering, LOOGY is a commonly used abbreviation for the term ‘Lefty One Out Guy’, basically another term for lefty specialist.
Personally, I have never been a huge fan of the LOOGY, especially in the NL. Wasting one of 7 valuable bullpen spots on a player who can only get lefties out is basically intentionally handicapping a bullpen. Sure, he can get out the big scary lefty hitting third, but another pitcher will have to come in afterwards since there is a righty batting cleanup. Of course, I am not a manager in the majors. Still, using two pitchers to dispatch three batters, cutting the bullpen down to five pitchers BEFORE even accounting for those who may not be available due to fatigue doesn’t seem very intelligent or efficient to me.
That scenario becomes a larger excercise in futility when the LOOGY (Choate) has an absolutely astounding ERA of 7.16 (13 runs allowed in 16.1 innings). Also, let us not forget that once Kevin Siegrest returns, Sam Freeman will more than likely be sent down. Since Choate is the veteran and Mike Matheny is loyal to a fault concerning his ‘guys’, there is probably no chance Freeman remains with the Cardinals while Choate is released.
Let this sink in. A 38 year old making $1.5 million dollars a year while possessing the repertoire of a 16 year old high school pitcher without the ability to get out right-handed hitters (this year righthanded batters are hitting .379 off Choate, .299 over 14 years), with a 7.16 ERA this year (plus a 3.99 career ERA, pretty bad for a reliever) will stay with the big club. Meanwhile, the 26 year old Freeman, who has yet to allow a run in 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts and possesses an impressive aresenal with improved control (mid 90’s fastball with movement, an 82 MPH changeup, and a rather impressive breaking pitch which is probably a slurve) will return to Memphis once again. Did I mention that out of the 22 batters Sam has faced, 11 have been righthanded, or that those 11 righties have yet to get a hit off him? Just for giggles, Freeman is also $1 million dollars cheaper.
Randy Choate is a liability, while Sam Freeman is an asset. When, not if, Freeman gets sent back down in favor of Choate, the move will be nothing short of both head-scratching and rage-inducing. For the sake of both our beloved Cardinals and my sanity, I sincerely hope that either Matheny actually realizes Freeman is a better pitcher or John Mozeliak intervenes.