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Cards have some interest in lefty specialist J.C. Romero

Jun 17, 2011, 8:46 AM EDT

Florida Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

The Phillies designated left-hander J.C. Romero for assignment on Thursday afternoon to clear a spot on their roster for Friday night’s starter, Vance Worley.

Romero has battled control issues and a variety of injuries over the past several seasons in Philadelphia, but he has a great ability to retire left-handed batters and that’s something that has piqued the interest of at least one NL team.

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are planning to “investigate Romero’s availability.”

Tony La Russa loves lefty specialists like Rick Reilly loves rolling metaphors, so it certainly seems feasible that the Cardinals might take a real run at acquiring Romero, either through a straight wavier claim or a trade with the Philies. Trever Miller has not been a consistent option for La Russa and Co. this season, and Brian Tallet is a mess. The Cardinals could use a left-handed weapon in their quest for the division crown.

Romero has kept left-handed hitters to a .208 batting average this season and a .185 mark since 2008. He’s on a $1.35 million salary and has issued 92 walks in his last 128 2/3 innings, but no relievers available at the moment are free of past mishaps and the Cardinals badly need bodies for the middle innings.

  1. halladaysbicepts - Jun 17, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    St. Louis, give us Matt Holliday and Romero is yours.

    • Jonny 5 - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:05 AM

      • halladaysbicepts - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:11 AM

        Lol!!! Classic song.

        It’s not even a dream. It’s more like a fantasy.

        No team will give the Phillies more than a bag of balls for Romero and that contract.

  2. Jonny 5 - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    His walk rate on Right handed batters is 6.94 per 9 and 3.98 per 9 against Lefties. His K/9 is about equal over his career but this season he’s got 10.29 k/9 ratio on LH and a 1.93 k/9 against RH bats. So there it is, he can get out Lhanders like no one’s business. But letting him face RHanders is a mistake. If used against Left batters in tight games or left to burn an inning in a blowout, he’s got value.

    • bleedgreen - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      Is that walk rate the past 2 years, or his entire career? It just seems like he can’t get ANYONE out anymore.

      • indyralph - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:25 AM

        He’s only walked 4 left handed batters this year. Two of them were Joey Votto and Jay Bruce in the same inning. You’d rather have your LOOGY get them out, but it’s a forgiveable offense. It just seems like he can’t get ANYONE out because he can’t get any right handed hitters out, and for some reason Chollie has had him face more RHB than LHB. You can rest assured that under TLR he will throw a max of 4 pitches per game to only LHB who stand at least 6 inches from home plate.

    • FC - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:22 AM

      “So in 25 medium-to-high leverage situations, Manuel has used Romero against lefties in 12 plate appearances and against righties/switch-hitters in 13.

      Romero has not recorded a strikeout in any of those 25 plate appearances. His highest-leverage strikeout came against Pittsburgh’s Xavier Paul with a man on second base in the bottom of the seventh inning of a game the Phillies trailed 4-2 (.52 leverage index).”

      “Even when you factor in the switch-hittes, Romero has faced lefties in seven of his 13 High Leverage plate appearances. In those seven plate appearances against lefties, he has recorded an out three times. In the other four, he has allowed three walks and an infield single.”

      Since we’re arguing statistics, let’s dig a bit deeper into your numbers. The above suggests that come crunch time Romero is folding like a cheap lawn chair. He’s faced 7 Lefties in High Leverage situations, not a single strikeout in those situations. he only recorded 3 outs. That’s less than 50% success rate for a guy you’re paying to get a critical out.

      I’m not convinced that Romero’s only issue is that he’s just poor against right handed batters.

      • indyralph - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:35 AM

        I’m not convinced that Romero’s only issue is that he’s just poor against right handed batters either. But if you’re suggesting, based on 7 at bats, that an MLB veteran of 10 years with post-season experience is suddenly scared to be in tough situations, I would call BS. I could easily turn that right around and say he had one bad night where he walked two of the toughest LHB in the league.

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:42 AM

        FC, too small a sample size with the leverage I think. I’m not arguing either, i’m just saying he’s a good Loogy. It’s ok if you don’t agree and if you want to base your decision on 9 batters faced in high leverage situations.

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        3.2 innings of work constitute all of your “medium to high leverage situations for this season.

      • FC - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:48 AM

        I’m not saying he’s scared, he’s simply lost his mojo. FWIW I would prefer he clear waivers and work it out in AAA and come back up to the team when he’s figured out what’s gone wrong. As for the fact that Manuel has had him face RH more than LH, it’s true but incomplete: in a lot of those cases those were situations where it didn’t matter, the game wasn’t close or was already blown out.

        Manuel has also had BP issues all year, and he simply couldn’t afford to yank Romero out because he failed to get that specific LH hitter out. In those cases Romero created the mess he found himself in when he couldn’t get the LH batter out.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:51 AM

        Maybe it is a small sample size, but when you are a specialist like you are claiming Romero to be it is his sole job to get those hitters out. It is his job to get the best left handed bats out in game changing moments. He hasn’t done it and hasn’t looked good trying to.

      • FC - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:51 AM

        It is a small sample size true. A valid critique. As for 3.2 innings of work so far that’s kind of misleading because innings means outs, that’s precisely the problem. What about those times he’s gone into games and failed to record an out… that’s 0.0 innings pitched… does that simply not count? For me the IP is flawed. A much better statistic is batters faced. That tells you a better story.

  3. drmonkeyarmy - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    For all those suggesting Uncle Chollie was misusing Romero, I suggest you read David Murphy’s piece on Furthermore, if other teams want to waste a bullpen spot on a pitcher who is only useful for maybe one batter a game with control problems, that is fine. I prefer my relief pitchers to have at least a modicum of success against opposite handed players.

    • halladaysbicepts - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:50 AM

      Agreed, Good Doctor.

      I am so sick of these so called “specialist” pitchers that can only face one guy in an inning and needs to be taken out for another pitcher because they are so one dimensional. First of all, it’s a waste of a roster spot. Secondly, it becomes a further drain on your bullpen when you have a guy that can’t be effective for more than that (1) left-handed batter.

      Just give me a reliever that has control, can face both left and right handed hitters, and can give me at least an inning of effective work.

      If I have to hear about this LOOGY crap much longer, it’s going to make me spit up a loogie.

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 17, 2011 at 11:12 AM

        Yeah but LaRussa loves Loogies, which may be good for Philly in the long run. Some kinda trade could go down where most of his contract gets covered. Also, Philly has been looking for RH power, which doesn’t Jive at all with “We aren’t going to do anything”. But we all take that for a grain of salt from Amaro anymore I think.

      • indyralph - Jun 17, 2011 at 11:39 AM

        “Just give me a reliever that has control, can face both left and right handed hitters, and can give me at least an inning of effective work.”

        I actually agree with this is in principle. The problem is that there is a scarcity of these guys because pitchers with that skill set usually become starters.

    • Jonny 5 - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:57 AM

      David Murphy is right as Charlie didn’t “misuse” because of using him against RH batters mostly in low leverage situations. I am merely saying the guy is only good against Lefties if that’s something you need. I too like guys who can pitch a whole inning well no matter which side of the plate they bat from too. Most people have been overly harsh on Romero when he is what he is. This Stutes kid and Bastardo have proven they deserve to play. Imo Romero and Baez are at the bottom of the Phills barrel as far as pitchers go. I just think Romero is better than Baez. I guess because Baez can go more than one inning he has extra value to the team.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 17, 2011 at 10:13 AM

        Fair enough. In my opinion, barring injury or better results, Baez will be out the door before the season ends as well.

      • bleedgreen - Jun 17, 2011 at 11:55 AM

        I’m not sure what Cholly sees in David Herndon either. He’s only seemed like he knows how to pitch when theres no pressure on. I guess we can keep him around cuz he’s cheap and use him for either blowing out teams or getting blown out just to save some arms, but still.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        I think Herndon looks a ton better since he was recalled. Apparently he had some type of simple mechanical issue that was making it hard to repeat his motion. The AAA pitching coach spotted it immediately and fixed it. Why Dubee didn’t see it is a different discussion altogether.

  4. spudchukar - Jun 17, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    As soon as I read about the release of Romero and his effectiveness vs. lefties I knew the Cards would come calling. Miller has lost command and Tallet has been inconsistent vs. southpaws so it makes sense. If the Phillies eat about half of Romero’s salary, I expect him to be wearing a different shade of red soon.

    • paperlions - Jun 17, 2011 at 11:25 AM

      Miller just looks like he’s afraid to throw strikes, and considering what happens when he does, that’s probably a reasonable fear.

  5. cur68 - Jun 17, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    I always hate to see this kind of thing happen to guy with as much potential as Romero. I watch him and I see a guy who could be pretty good were it not for his aim and his inability to focus on the catcher and forget about the batter. 6 weeks in AAA to iron out his control and get his head right, maybe resurrect his curve ball. If he can’t manage to get the ball across the plate after that, then fogeddabout it.

  6. okwhitefalcon - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    They’ve got to do something – and soon.

    Hell, at his point they may have to run Jon Jay out there to get a lefty out..

  7. xmatt0926x - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    High leverage, low leverage, yadda yadda yadda. Give it a few weeks and Cardinal fans will understand why he was let go by Boston initially and now Philly. Hope they have a good “supplement” store in St. Louis. He just hasn’t been the same since..

  8. davetheknave - Jun 17, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    I wonder if Romero is still on the juice…….

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