Another August deal went down involving the National League Central yesterday, this time involving the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros. The Astros sent Pedro Feliz north to Missouri, and will receive David Carpenter, a 25 year old reliever who is having a solid season for the Cardinals High-A team.
Carpenter is, simply put, not a loss for St. Louis. Tim McCullough of Future Redbirds wrote of Carpenter last night:
For David, he’s likely in a better place now. He’s got legitimate relief arm but he’s more of a fringe setup type than a closer (and that’s a pretty rosy assessment). The Astros system is barren as opposed to the Cardinals relief system that has guys like Adam Reifer, Eduardo Sanchez, Casey Mulligan, Blake King, Francisco Samuel, etc. in front of him.
A guy whose ceiling is a “fringe setup guy” isn’t much of a cost. Sure, it’s good for Ed Wade that he managed to rid himself of Feliz while adding a living, breathing human being with multiple working body parts, including an arm that can throw a baseball, but that’s not the real story here.
The real story is how Pedro Feliz can possibly fit into the Cardinals plans for success. The Cardinals are now 3.5 games behind Cincinnati, thanks to a six game winning streak by Cincinnati combined by a four game losing streak in St. Louis. The Cardinals are certainly looking to win games now, and there is a very legitimate question as to whether Feliz may actually hurt in that regard.
The Astros decision to sign a marginal player such as Feliz was questionable at the time. He was a no-bat, all-glove third baseman who, at age 35, could see either one or both of those factors drop dramatically. The simultaneous collapse of both sides of Feliz’s game has resulted in possibly the worst player in baseball. Feliz is walking less, his power is down, and his BABIP has fallen to .232. Given Feliz’s advanced age, the decline in his other skills, his career .267 BABIP, and his 4% drop in line drive rate, that BABIP doesn’t appear to be bad luck, it just appears to be a complete lack of Major League ability. Throw in a glove that has gone from elite to poor – his UZR, RZR, and TZ are all far, far below their excellent career marks – and the results is a player worth -1.5 WAR in just over 300 plate appearances, making him the worst position player in baseball this season.
There’s simply no reason to think that Feliz and his completely broken skillset provides any sort of upgrade over Felipe Lopez, or anybody around MLB, for that matter. Tyler Greene likely would’ve been a superior option in house, if only for his glove and the fact that he has shown some life in AAA. Aaron Miles, despite being the embodiment of the replacement player, is probably better than Feliz. Craig Counsell would have been a better option off of the waiver wire.
By adding Feliz to the roster, the St. Louis Cardinals have simply made themselves worse. He doesn’t appear to be a capable defensive replacement. What little bat he once had has completely evaporated. Feliz may be the worst player in baseball who has received playing time with any sort of regularity. There’s a chance that Feliz reaches some sort of respectability in St. Louis much as there is a chance of any baseball player having a good month, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we should expect it. The Cardinals job of catching the Reds is at least as hard as it was at this time yesterday. The addition of Feliz may have made it harder.