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UCB Roundtable: Discussing the enigma that is Anthony Reyes

March 17, 2008

reyes.jpg

So, the united cardinal bloggers (UCB) has organized a round table and 4 of us have agreed to participate, including me. You got cardinal70 from C70 at the Bat, Mike from Stan Musial’s Stance and Don from The Redbird Blog.

So, this email discussion occurred all day Monday, and today it was my day to provide a question for the fellas to discuss.

Here it is: What do you do with Anthony Reyes? trade him? send him down to AAA? stick him in the rotation? he seems to have his fastball back and better control and his slurve and changeup are working nicely so I say stick him in the rotation as the 5th starter and see what he can do. thoughts?

Don: There’s no doubt that Reyes has been an enigma for the Cardinals. When I think of Reyes, I think of two dominant outings (the one-hitter vs. the White Sox) and Game 1 of the ’06 World Series. Then I also think about a whole series of maddening outings where he elevated fastballs or couldn’t find the strike zone.

At the end of the day, however, Reyes is just 26 years old and has pitched just over 200 innings in the majors. I believe he is one of the top five best starting pitchers currently vying for a spot in the Cards rotation, and he should make the ’08 club as the fourth starter.

Here are his 2008 ZiPS projections:

  •                     ERA   W   L   G  GS  INN    H   ER  HR   BB    K     
  • Optimistic (15%)   3.75  12   8  31  30  173  162   72  21   44  133
  • Mean               4.65   8   9  27  26  149  153   77  23   45  106
  • Pessimistic (15%) 5.82 5 9 23 22 119 135 77 24 46 77

I personally believe that ’08 probably shapes up something like this:

10-10 record with a 4.10 ERA, 150K and 40 BB. All things considered, not terrible. But I believe Reyes will really take the next “big step” once he gets close to 500 innings pitched in the majors. Assuming, of course, he can stay relatively healthy. Reyes is still trying to win with his “stuff,” and he needs to become a more strategic pitcher.

Now, if Clement, Pineiro, Mulder and Carpenter all come back in ’08, I think all bets are off. On one hand, you’d like Reyes to start off ’08 with a lot of success, as that will make him a very nice trade target for a lot of teams seeking help at the trading deadline. On the flip side, if he does have success during the first half of ’08, I can’t see the Cards being so anxious to part with a young, promising starting pitcher who is still under team control.

Cardinal70: I think you have to stick with Reyes. True, he does have a technical option, but what does Memphis really do for him? He needs to get adjusted to the majors. Besides the fact that we need bodies in the rotation right now, it should be a good season to throw him out there, let him learn as he goes without worrying too much about the results.

Mike: Couldn’t agree more. He needs to pitch at the major league level without worrying that any mistake plants his but on a bus to Memphis. Most prognosticators agree this isn’t going to be a very good team (78 wins or so), so let him struggle and mature for a full season. If he’s 2-14 in September this year, well, then its time to cut bait.

Also, it’d be great if Duncan would coach Reyes on his mechanics only and stop trying to change him into a pitch to contact pitcher. Quit trying to turn him into Jeff Suppan. Reyes blows you away with gas up. Let him pitch that way.

Cardinal70: I do wonder how much of Reyes’ struggles are due to the different philosophies of pitching between him and Duncan. I would lean toward what Mike’s saying and letting him do his thing, but from what I understand he really needs another pitch to be effective, which maybe is something Duncan can teach him. There’s got to be a happy medium, I’d think.

If he’s successful, the Cards won’t move him at all. There will be openings in the 2009 rotation–Mulder’s got an option, Lohse is a one year deal, does Clement have the option as well?–and the Cardinals are going to need a good cheap person in that mix, which is what Reyes would give them.

Of course, if he struggles this year and the pitchers start coming back, then there could be some difficult decisions to make in the Cardinal front office.

I like your projections on Reyes, Don, but I’ve got trouble thinking his ERA will be that low, really. When he blows up, sometimes it gets out of hand quickly. I’d guess more on the 4.30 side or so, but that’s still pretty respectable and miles ahead of last year’s performance.

Don: My worry, C70, is that the cards won’t have much patience with Reyes. At this point it seems clear he’ll make the roster out of spring training, but my guess is he’s the fifth starter. Unless Reyes really impresses in his first few starts, don’t you think he’s ticketed to Memphis just as soon as Pineiro and/or Clement are ready?

Cardinal70: Honestly, I really don’t. I think there is going to be some pressure on TLR by the front office to play the kids. While that may put a little tension between the dugout and the front office, well, we’ve been there before, right?

And they have to find out what they have in Reyes. Is he going to be a part of the team going forward? Like I said, his development really could impact the 2009 rotation. Will they have to get two or three free agents? Is Reyes at least able to bring back some talent if they do want to trade him?

There are a lot of ifs around Anthony that the team really needs to solve. Him pitching in Memphis won’t solve them.

Cards4life: it’s my turn. The braintrust has claimed that they want to go young and develop players. The fact is, they don’t give young players a chance to stick. They try to change what Reyes does which has made him a very successful pitcher in the minors. You can’t do that; he might just be a flop, but you have to find out by allowing him to play his game and stop shuttling him back and forth between AAA and the big leagues. Allowing him to pitch in the majors for a whole season or two is the only way to see if he can do it or not. If he hits rock bottom, maybe then he will admit he was wrong and submit to dunc’s will, but until then he should be the 4th starter in the rotation and his position on the roster should not be contested. Besides, it’s the best move for the cardinals also. If he pitches well, his trade value goes up and you can dump him and get some prospects and if not then you will know once and for all that you gave him a shot and he could not do it. Triple A does nothing for him; he has nothing to prove in the minor leagues anymore since he dominated them. He either sticks in the big leagues as a starter or falls flat on his face.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2008 8:44 am

    First off, I was happy with the level of participation on this. I wish we could have gotten a few more bloggers to participate, but the ones that did really did a great job breaking it down.

    Reyes’s outing yesterday was a little optimistic, so maybe he can build on that.

  2. March 19, 2008 8:00 am

    Good job guys! Sorry that I couldn’t participate… for the past month or so I’ve been traveling a lot, interviewing for jobs… it’s been pretty hectic.

  3. Rick Reyes permalink
    March 29, 2008 1:14 am

    Let my son pitch. He dominated AAA by pitching his way. He goes up and Duncan tries to change hin. How many pitchers on the team have struck out 15 batters in AA or AAA. Anthony is a strikeout pitcher. He never had a location problem til Duncan tried to change him. Yes in the majors he needed to pitch down, so instead of working on it, he wants him to throw a 2 seamer, a pitch he has never thrown in his life. If Duncan was so worried about it why did he not have him learn that pitch down in AAA. Anthony is a team player. He tried to learn that pitch. It didn’t farewell, he changed his arm angle trying to throw it. He struggled with his location because of it. He threw mid-90’s in minors. He had to slow his velocity to find his location back. This year he worked hard to get in top shape and worked hard in getting his old self again. His location is back and so is his fastball. His only setback will be Duncan.

  4. westi smith permalink
    April 4, 2008 8:36 pm

    I agree with Rick. Let Anthony pitch. Duncan doesn’t seem to work with the young talent as he does with the old guys. If they would get rid of Anthony I believe that this would be a great lost for St. Louis. Give him a chance.

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