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Cardinals find their left-handed reliever in Randy Choate

Dec 5, 2012, 4:50 PM EST

Randy Choate

St. Louis was initially targeting Sean Burnett as a left-handed bullpen addition, but after finding his price tag too high the Cardinals have moved on to Randy Choate.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that Choate and the Cardinals have agreed to a deal and Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com says it’s for three years, which is very surprising for a 37-year-old.

Choate, unlike Burnett, is strictly a left-handed specialist rather than a left-handed setup man. In fact, in leading the league with 80 appearances this year he threw a grand total of just 36 innings.

He’s basically only good for a batter or two every other game and right-handed hitters tee off on him, but during the past three seasons Choate has limited left-handed hitters to a .173 batting average.

UPDATE: Choate is getting $7.5 million for three years, which is … well, more money and a longer commitment than anyone could have expected.

  1. tuberippin - Dec 5, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    $2.5 million a season for a specialist? Really?

  2. stlsportsfan84 - Dec 5, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    This contract just doesn’t make sense. Why give a LOOGY 3 years and especially a 37 year old one at that. I thought Mo knew better than to give RP 3 years, even at less money.

    • gibbyfan - Dec 5, 2012 at 5:35 PM

      I guess it’s just a deperate move by a club without enough $$$ to compete with the likes of teh Angels and others……but still I think they would have been better off just holding pat.

    • ultimatecardinalwarrior - Dec 5, 2012 at 7:28 PM

      Seriously, mo is blowing my mind right now. I wish I could run into him while he’s at lunch sometime to give him a piece of my mind.

  3. paperlions - Dec 5, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    What a waste of a roster spot. Fantastic, he’ll be 1 or 2 runs better against lefties over the coarse of an entire year than anyone from the stable of young RH power arms they have….all of which are good against both RH and LH hitters….of course, he’ll give those runs away when he’s left in to face RH that pinch hit against him or that are between two lefties.

    One year would have been 1 too many and a wasted roster spot….2 year would have been insanely moronic, 3 year is completely bat shit insanely stupid….but….at least it’s a cheap dumb ass decision….I guess.

    • saints97 - Dec 5, 2012 at 6:18 PM

      Totally agree. Terrible, terrible move.

    • stex52 - Dec 5, 2012 at 9:14 PM

      We had this discussion about a week ago. This guy is more SPECIALIZED than you could have ever imagined. It’s the worst nightmare.

    • stlsportsfan84 - Dec 5, 2012 at 9:29 PM

      If you were going to spend 8M (plus or minus) for a LHP, spend it on Burnett who can actually stay in the game. The first time Boggs gets taken out and Choate comes in for 1 guy and then someone else for the next batter is going to be a good reminder on why you dont need LHP. Cards have plenty of RHP that can easily get lefties out, especially if Rosenthal ends up in the pen.

      • paperlions - Dec 5, 2012 at 10:17 PM

        Yeah, I would rather have seen them sign Burnett for 2/8 than Choate for 3/7.5

  4. stlouis1baseball - Dec 5, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    Yes…a cheap dumb ass decision. Ahhh…the silver lining.

  5. okwhitefalcon - Dec 5, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    Geez, I think we all thought they didn’t trust Scrabble but this obviously soldifies that notion.

    Hell, it’s not my money but it does invoke a “WTF???” are they thinking moment for sure.

  6. spudchukar - Dec 5, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    First I want to make it clear, I am not excited about the Choate signing. However, in defense of the management the following should be considered.

    1) Choate is a LOOGY, which frees up Scrabble, assuming he returns to form.

    2) Choate is the kind of LOOGY who is very tough on the likes of Howard, Fielder, etc.

    3) With the departure of Lohse, Schumaker (perhaps), Berkman etc, they have some cash to toss around, and may not make any other moves, and I doubt if 2.5 Mil would make a difference if they do.

    4) Burnett was probably already gone, and there are not a lot of other options out there.

    5) I believe Choate has already undergone TJ surgery, and 37 for a LOOGY isn’t that old.

    6) He has been very good the past couple of years.

    7) The over payment in years and salary may have been necessary to secure him.

    • paperlions - Dec 5, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      Now that they have him….they dang well better use him as a LOOGY….if he every faces a RH, it better be to IBB to get to another lefty.

      I still don’t understand how this “frees up scrabble”, to do what? Sorry, but if your primary strength is getting out LH and you fold because that is too much pressure…you should probably find another profession. This entire “scrabble needs another lefty in the pen” thing is narrative hooey..and if there is truth to it, then it is a reason to get rid of him, not a reason to get another lefty.

      It is the waste of a roster spot (two if you consider him and scrabble a tag-team) that bother me, yeah, he’s been great against lefties…but not that much better than Motte, Boggs, Rosey, et al….and he’ll never face a lefty in the 9th in a save situation because Motte will be brought in….there is just very very little value to be had unless he is used perfectly. Who are the premier lefties for him to face in the NL? Votto, Bruce, Heyward, Harper, and ??? Howard already isn’t any good and Fielder is in the AL, so the Cardinals will play them what…1 series every 3 years?

      • spudchukar - Dec 5, 2012 at 7:57 PM

        Scrabble has been effective vs. Righties. But when he is the only Lefty is the pen he is often conserved for the LOOGY role. With the addition of a true LOOGY, Scrabble can be used differently, and I would suggest more efficiently.

        Howard isn’t any good? From a Cards fan? Look I don’t want him either, but let’s face it he has killed us. Fielder is indeed in the AL, I know that, but I also think big and hopefully so does the management. Bruce maybe and I thought of including him, Harper did look awful at times vs LOOGYs but his swing is not conducive to automatic outs vs LOOGYs.

        I still do not have all that much confidence in Boggs; he still implodes at times, but he is improving. And if the Cards keep him, let’s hope he continues to dominate in the 8th inning role. And with a true LOOGY, Motte doesn’t have to always begin the 9th, when a lead-off hitter is left-handed.

        My main argument against the immediate criticism, is that we do not know what else lies in store for the off-season. Maybe a move of Boggs, or McClellan? Personally I would like to see Rosey in a starting role, he certainly has displayed starter stuff.

        As far as using Choate as a LOOGY, I am with you. He is a situational pitcher only.

        I believe the argument that LOOGYs aren’t necessary is a better one than the castigation of the management over dollars and years. If they are convinced of Choate’s talent, and the need for a LOOGY, they may well have decided it was now or never and that some over payment was the only way to secure him.

        The truth is the Cards really do not need much. I am happy with the Furcal/Kozma duo, and the addition of an experienced, preferably left-hand hitting utility or second-base option is most likely the only other area of emphasis.

        As stated previously, I would also like a dependable left-hand hitting catcher, but they are virtually nonexistent, so it looks like another year of Cruz.

      • paperlions - Dec 5, 2012 at 8:17 PM

        Well, I hope you are right about Scrabble improving if he is used against both RH and LH…historically his splits weren’t horrible, but he’s always been better going L-L. I just don’t like the wasted roster spot….it is like bunting to waste outs…..roster spots, outs…these are things that are truly limiting and shouldn’t be thrown away or used inefficiently. The Cardinals have so much pitching talent right now, and even though it is almost all RH (and all of it for the pen is RH), a lot of those guys have devastating sliders that are effective against lefties and hard high FBs that are good against them too. The Cards have 5-6 RH RPs that are good against lefties…so…I just don’t like wasting the roster spot…but as long as they are going to do it, I guess have a true LOOGY is the way to go…as long as they use him that way.

        I too think Rosey could and should be a starter, he may just have to wait a year or so for a spot to open up (Carpenter is getting old and Garcia is well…who knows what he is, but he doesn’t feel dependable)…not sure if they will want him up in the pen and have him work on stuff on the side or they’ll want to send him down to work on turning over the order 3 times….but long term, he should be a starter. Rosenthal, Miller, Kelly, Lynn….that all look like better than average starters….at least, until they start to nibble…Kelly and Lynn each get into trouble with they stop throwing strikes.

    • stlsportsfan84 - Dec 5, 2012 at 9:32 PM

      LIke PL said I hope you are right and this frees up Matheny to use Scrabble for innings at a time (not that he couldn’t do that anyways). If the Cards end up with 2 LOOGYs in a division that you don’t really even need 1 with their power righties then its awful.

      Hope you are right!

  7. salvomania - Dec 5, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    The Cardinals should have learned by now that it’s tough finding LOOGYs who retain their effectiveness for several years; exhibit A should be Scrabble, who was great in 2011 after being acquired in the Rasmus deal and was a factor in their winning the World Series, but who was inconsistent and ultimately disappointing in 2012. Before Scrabble, in 2010, it was Trever Miller was terrible as a LOOGY after being fantastic in that role in 2009.

    None of these yo-yo performances are a surprise—LOOGYs just seem to fluctuate quite a bit, which is why the 3-year deal seems ill advised.

    Forty-one relievers appeared in at least 40 games each of the last three years and had an ERA+ over 100 each year; only 8 of those were left-handed.

    Of those eight, only two were “true” LOOGYs (Boone Logan and Javier Lopez), as opposed to 7th- or 8th-inning set-up men who typically face more righties than lefties.

    So in all of baseball, there have been two LOOGYs that have been effective for the last three years. Why would you sign a LOOGY to a three-year deal?

  8. okwhitefalcon - Dec 5, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    I suppose the 3rd year lowered the AAV and got the gross $$ necessary to sign the player, it also makes it fairly easy to walk away from the clubs perspective if/when his effectiveness against lefties goes away.

    That said, I still think it’s a long reach and if he ever is permitted to face a right handed hitter with the other RH weapons they already have I vow to bring it up in every Cardinal thread from that point forward.

  9. shynessismyelguapo - Dec 5, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    Huh?

    Mo has made some strange moves in the past (some of which turned out just hunky-dorey, thank you very much), but…I can’t see the logic behind this at all. 3 years, $7.5??? Just…..why?

    So, I repeat:

    Huh?

  10. albertmn - Dec 5, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    In the big picture, $7.5 million isn’t that much money for an MLB team. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of money to me, but not to a team.

    I would assume he would only be used for the type of LH batters that the other team wouldn’t pinch hit for. If he is effective against those batters, he will be worth it. If he isn’t, they can cut him and not be out that much.

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