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Cardinals acquire Justin Masterson from Indians

Jul 30, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT

Cleveland turned down Justin Masterson‘s attempted contract extension offer back in spring training–balking at what seemed to be reasonable terms at the time–and now the Indians are trading the impending free agent to the Cardinals, according to Peter Gammons of

Masterson has been a mess this season while trying to pitch through knee problems, posting a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts while walking 5.1 batters per nine innings. However, last season he threw 193 innings with a 3.45 ERA and 195 strikeouts, and from 2011-2013 he had a combined 3.86 ERA in 615 innings.

Masterson is currently on the disabled list, but he’s eligible to return Friday and if healthy is a solid mid-rotation starter with some upside beyond that. And given his struggles this season along with his being able to hit the open market as a free agent in two months the price was certainly right for the Cardinals. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post they’re giving up 24-year-old outfielder James Ramsey, a 2012 first-round draft pick playing well while repeating Double-A.

Ramsey is a solid prospect, but he lacks upside and isn’t close to cracking any top-100 lists. Ultimately the Cardinals decided they’d rather take their chances on Masterson than overpay for a fellow two-month rental like Jon Lester or really break the bank for David Price.

  1. SocraticGadfly - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Well, THAT’s interesting. Since becoming a full-time starter, he’s alternated good years and crap years, and he’s on a crap year right now. Not a big overpay, if Ramsey is the return, but, probably not real help.

    • okwhitefalcon - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      It’s not an overpay at all really.

      Ramsey’s a 24 year old guy playing below a league with more road blocks to STL than 1-44 on a holiday weekend.

      It’s a flyer I suppose…

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        That’s probably about the best way to describe it. He wasn’t going to be in St. Louis before a possible cup of coffee as a Sept. 2015 call-up.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      Plus, the Cards got somebody who’s kind of full of himself. ESPN reminds us that, preseason, he wanted $17M a year.

      Yeah, good luck with that.

  2. nsstlfan - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    I understand not wanting to pay a bunch, but why trade for someone that isn’t even healthy. Mo and the Cardinal Way got it wrong with this one.

  3. ejheim62 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    dang it. Now the Pirates are going to have to do something. I get that Masterson’s injured and having a rough year, but pitchers that go to St. Louis usually end up doing much better. Please, please, Pirates, don’t overpay for a rental!

    • 5thliner - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      That was when we had Dave Duncan as our pitching coach. Hasn’t really been the same since he retired.

      • ejheim62 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        good point.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Exactly. The only possible silver lining on this is that a change of leagues makes Masterson possibly look better.

      • 78mu - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:20 PM

        They haven’t had many (or any) rehab projects since Duncan’s left.

        Let’s see what Lilliquist can do.

        And Duncan wasn’t always successful. Remember Kip Wells?

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Er, no, I forgot all about him, which illustrates your point!

    • jvandever007 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      Yea in the past when Dave Duncan was are pitching coach

  4. tfbuckfutter - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    The Cardinals have a long history of getting a good run out of talented but inconsistent pitchers.

    He could be a good long term fit there.

  5. felser - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    #’s seem to indicate that Ramsey has a good plate approach, some pop, and good glove.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      Per the notes up top, he’s nothing special. Not horrible, but nothing special. With the OF backup at higher levels, it’s unlikely he would have played in St. Louis before an end-of-2015 cup of coffee, if then.

    • paperlions - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      This is correct.

      He’s athletic. Works hard. Has developed real power and has a good plate approach. He also has some contact issues. The ceiling doesn’t seem high, but the ceiling is higher now than it was in January because the power is really playing up in games.

  6. jrob23 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    Mo thinks he is the smartest man in any room he’s in. Well, he’s been in the wrong rooms.

  7. spudchukar - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Before an oblique/lat injury, Ramsey was leading almost every offensive category in AA. He has pop, sports a .397 OBP, has a strong arm, can play centerfield and is an asset in the outfield. And oh yeah, he is a Rhodes Scholar.

    I doubt if this is St. Louis’ only pitching move. It only suggests Miller could be part of a larger deal. I look at him as insurance or stop gap until Wacha returns.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      Technically, a Rhodes Scholar candidate, but still. Here’s a Fangraphs piece:

      That said, being a Rhodes Scholar is no help in hitting a serious curveball. Nor is a 40-inch vertical, as Michael Jordan knows.

      And, given that the Sawks seem to be overasking on Lester, and I don’t know about Lackey, I’m kind of thinking this is it.

    • mattinglyschmidt - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      Ramsey is just a quality person. Intelligent, very nice, with a supportive family. We had the pleasure of sitting with them two seasons ago in Jupiter, Florida, when he was on the Palm Beach Cardinals, and he came over after the game, chatted with my family and autographed a ball for my son. He was clearly backlogged in St. Louis – hopefully he gets a real opportunity in Cleveland.

    • happytwinsfan - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      Hey spud, haven’t seen you for a while. Good to see you.

      Now if only your predictions about the Twins would stop coming true…

      • spudchukar - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:01 PM

        Thanks, and I wish my prognostications weren’t accurate, cause I have always rooted for the Twins, and many friends here in central Idaho are from Minnesota. While the Twinkies have a number of prospects who are intriguing, they are primarily position players, and these days pitching is dominating, and particularly in Target, they need to acquire some top notch hurlers.

  8. tigersfandan - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    If Dave Duncan was still in St. Louis, Masterson would probably wind up winning a Cy Young next year.

  9. largebill - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    As an Indians fan this is more return than I thought we had any right to expect. Wish Masterson well with St Louis, but he was hurt most of this year and not pitching at his former level.

  10. missingdiz - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    I guess the Cards must be counting on Masterson to return to last year’s form. I hope they have a good reason, that it’s not just magic thinking. Because a 5.51 ERA isn’t nearly good enough–we could ask Westbrook to come back and he’d be better than that.

    • stoicpaisano - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      4.09 FIP, Masterson will look better by virtue of the defense behind him.

      Ramsey seems to have a major league future though nothing stands out at you. Interesting that they didn’t move him to AAA in mid-season given he spent half of last year in AA. I expect the Tribe to play the carcass of Ryvid Murburn in RF the rest of this year, but hope they are wise and just eat that 8.5 million in 2015.

      Ramsey and old college buddy Tyler Holt could do just as good of a job.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:39 PM

        He still has the worst walk rate in his career since becoming a full-time starter. I’m still skeptical.

  11. westcoastredbird - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Dude has been on the DL with a bum knee since July 8th. At best he’ll have to go on a rehab stint or two in August. At worst he might need surgery.

    • kycardsfan - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:13 PM

      He scheduled to start Saturday night against the Brewers

    • paperlions - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:39 PM

      He’s already made 2 rehab starts totaling 11.2 IP….they didn’t go well, but he made them.

  12. timmons94 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    at least they get something for him…I was at the Indians game last night….15k announced…lol…maybe 5,000…. wow, all the bandwagon indians fans are gone forever…But they will support a team that has lost at least 11 games 6 years in a row..

    seriously time to move the Indians…NO FAN SUPPORT AT ALL…what a disgrace Cleveland sports fans are

    • mattinglyschmidt - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      Just so I understand – you’re using a late-July Tuesday night game against the Mariners as an indictment of Cleveland as a sports town?

      • timmons94 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        let me tell u, i go to 10-15 Tribe games a year for the last 25 years..the last 5-10 years that place is empty 60 times a year…the support is a total joke…
        and yes i do, they are still in the playoff hunt….KC had 30k last night.,…I don;t think 20k is asking too much…That place was empty last night…going again tonight cause seeing King Felix is worth the lack of environment there

      • blacksables - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:31 PM

        What I want to know is, did you really laugh out loud when they announced the attendance?

    • takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:39 PM

      Perhaps the fault lies with ownerships unwillingness, or inability, to spend money to attempt to put a quality product on the field. Say what you will about the Browns and the Cavs records, but both Jimmy Haslam (and Lerner before him) and Dan Gilbert regularly have payrolls in the top 25% of their respective leagues, and always have good to great attendance. This gives the fans at least the belief that they have a shot at being competitive, results notwithstanding. The Dolan’s, however, refuse to spend money, consistently maintaining a bottom 5 payroll. And for all the years of losing, they have a barren farm system. They need to sell the team to someone willing to spend the money, and fire the entire front office. The Browns and Cavs attendance shows that Cleveland does have some die hard fans willing to spend money, even for a sub par product. if only the Dolan’s would do the same…

      • dsaverno - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        . . . pssst (sotto voce): the other leagues have salary caps and floors. teams must spend 89% (nfl) or 90% (nba) of the salary cap or will incur monetary penalties. plus, those other leagues have much better revenue sharing agreements in place, especially with television broadcasts.

        baseball, on the other hand, has one team with a payroll nearly 5.5 times that of another team. truly, the indians are priced out of the upper echelon of baseball payrolls

      • tolbuck - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:55 PM

        Here we go again with the Dolans won’t spend rant again. All those major impact players were dying to play in Cleveland if only the Dolans would open up the wallets. Right.

        Let’s see, Hafner is signed to a long term deal, and for most of his last contract the fans were screaming about how stupid the FO was for signing him.

        They signed Bourn and Swisher to above market contracts before last season, and now the fans are complaining about both contracts. They want to run Swisher out of town. Bourn isn’t that much more popular.

        Money isn’t the problem. The reason the team has stunk more often than not recently is the player development system is crap. They cannot develop most of the players they sign, and more often than not they draft garbage. This goes back to the late 90s, the end of the Jacobs / Hart years. 15 years of screwing up the farm system will destroy any franchise.

        Until the drafting and farm system issues are fixed it won’t matter if the Dolans spend money or not. The product on the field will stink.

    • dsaverno - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:39 PM

      I was going to go to the game last night, but I forgot about the airline pricing they instituted this year. Ticket prices rise closer to the game day, so last minute attendees like myself (travel fairly often for work, unexpectedly) have to pay more than people that would buy a month or two out. If I would have remembered that, I would have checked out stubhub or something.

      • stoicpaisano - Jul 30, 2014 at 6:15 PM

        The player development system in the minors/draft has been fine. Draftees like Kipnis, Chisenhall, Crockett, House and Allen have all been helpful. And the a tribe has shown the ability to ID prospects in trades — see Kluber, Santana, Cabrera. Gomes/Aviles were a winter deal but another heist. Lindor and Ramirez look like they’ll be long-term players.

        The problem lies with how the little money is spent. Westbrook, Hafner being injured is understandable. The Swisher, Bourn and Murphy deals, not so much. Those three and Raburn are getting $34 million to post a -2.1 WAR? And they all have another year left!

        I’m not saying your Aguilars, Holts, Moncriefs or Ramseys will be all-stars, but they’d be better than replacement level, IMO.

    • browns11 - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      Many fans choose to stay home rather than pay Dolan for overpriced tickets to the game. Last year I had the misfortune of being downtown on game day and having the event I planned on attending fall through. I made the mistake of telling my 4 year old that we would take her to the Indians game. Greedy Dolan refuses to sell the cheaper upper sections AND bleachers the day of game. The cheapest ticket available was next to the last row of the upper deck behind home plate at $25 per seat. With his ticket policies I have vowed to never again purchase a ticket to an INdians game until Dolan sells the team. I’m still a fan, but I will not be held hostage to those ticket policies. I ended up buying a 20 game package to the Lake County Captains class A club instead for $150 per seat ($7.50 average per game). I may not be seeing the highly paid major league talent, but my family enjoys the game just as much.

  13. sportsdrenched - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    Don’t the Cards need a bat, more than another arm? Weird.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      Well, this may be an indirect medical update on Wacha’s arm? Others above are saying that this could mean Mo is planning a triple bank shot second trade, but I don’t think so.

  14. stlouis1baseball - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    This is wonderful! The offense has been stagnant all year. Virtually no run production.
    This signing will definitely lend itself to correcting that! Good job Mo!

    • beepbeepbeeplgb - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      what bat would u like mo to trade for? there is really no one out there.

      • gibbyfan - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        I agree–really nobody out there and they have plenty of potential–we have to hope it comes through. I think it will and I fully expect PS play. And I’m glad Mo didn’t pay the hue price reqired to get one of the big arms. He’s keeping within his budget, both current and projected.
        I am anticipating some magic from this aqisition and who knows–maybe even from our ne catcher –he hasn’t looked too bad at all so far, although for sure he’s no Yadi and seems to have a McCarver type arm

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        I am available. What is the worse thing that can happen?
        On a serious note…I realize it is slim pickins’ from an offensive standpoint. More than anything, with all the talk I was pumping myself up for a much bigger signing. You know, Price, Lackey, Lester, Eckersley, Clemons, Maddux, etc… But noooo. Justin Masterson. Should be a huge help. No doubt.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        @stlouis1? The worst that could happen is, you lean too far over the plate, you get hit by a young pitcher, Craig makes up something about Gibson and Drysdale shout-outs, then writes a “trolling for the good old days” blog post.

  15. janessa31888 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    /Sobs 😦 why? Why? Why? /falls apart.

  16. pwshrugged - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    I thought the point of buying at the trade deadline was to make your team better in the short-term?

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