The Cardinals Add Another Southpaw

Tony LaRussa still has a fetish for lefty relievers.

Yesterday the Cardinals signed Dennys Reyes for two years and three million. The long-time Twins LOOGY joins quite a collection of lefties already in camp for the Cardinals, which raises the question: why did the Cardinals see it necessary to add another?

The only St Louis lefty entrenched in a gig is Trever Miller, with a battle occurring between Ian Ostlund, Charlie Manning, Royce Ring, and Katsuhiko Maekawa. That seems like a decent collection of potentially useful lefty relievers and at cheap prices. Unfortunately, the Cardinals have yet to see something in spring training from the grouping, or at least something that would inspire confidence.

Rather than waiting it out the Cardinals went out and added another free agent. As Viva El Birdos covered yesterday, Reyes was one of three talented lefties available on the market, alongside Will Ohman and Joe Beimel. The difference between the trio likely came down to asking price, to which Reyes apparently fit the bill.

Over the last three years Reyes has posted win values of: 0.6, 0.1, and 1.1. That’s not too shabby, considering 2007’s low total came alongside Reyes worst FIP and subsequently the lowest workload (29 innings, 17 less than 2008 and 21 less than 2006). Reyes’ raw numbers should improve in St. Louis as long as LaRussa avoids the pitfalls of Ron Gardenhire’s usage: right-handers. Reyes was used nearly 50% of the time against righties in 2006, 41% in 2007, and 46% in 2008.

Reyes’ strong point is success against lefties, and while he’s not a complete liability versus righties, there’s just nothing to be gained from letting him face more than the occasional weak hitter in any kind of meaningful situation.

Frankly, I’m not sure if they didn’t give up on the ragtag combination a little too hastily, but at the price, and for the quality Reyes brings, it’s probably not worth the fuss.

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2 Responses to “The Cardinals Add Another Southpaw”

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  1. vivaelpujols says:

    It can’t hurt them. The AAV of the deal is less than 1.5 million and the Cards payroll is down by about 10 million from last year. Also, Miller has a big health risk, Ring and Manning have performance issues and Katsuhiko Maekawa is asian. Reyes is good bet to produce at a relatively high level, and will add some stability to the pen.

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  2. Kincaid says:

    I am not really sure why you would call out Gardenhire’s usage of Reyes or expect his percentage of righties faced to drop in St. Louis. The percentages you list are actually pretty low. The perception of left-handed specialists as guys who go entire seasons only pitching to left-handers one out at a time is not really rooted in reality, and usage patterns like Reyes’ are in fact the norm. Since 2000, less than 1 lefty per year on average (and none in the last 3 years) has pitched at least 25 innings and faced a smaller percentage of righties than Reyes did in 2007, and only an average of 3 per year have faced proportionally fewer than Reyes did last year. About 7-8 per year are at or below 50%.

    Both of LaRussa’s lefties last year, Ron Villone and Randy Flores, faced right-handed batters over 50% of the time. None of his lefties this decade have faced fewer than 44% right-handers in at least 25 innings of work, one has faced under 46%, and four have faced under 50%. Very few relievers who are not late-season or short-term call-ups face fewer righties in a season than that, and LaRussa’s lefties are no exception.

    I think they could have been ok with the group they had too, but more depth in the bullpen is never a bad thing, and Reyes is probably a safer bet to contribute than any of the other three. There has been some concern about Miller’s health as well that held up negotiations with him for a while and ended with a smaller deal for him, so they might be adding extra insurance against that as well. All in all, I think it was a good move.

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