The Padres claimed Luis Perdomo after the Giants put him on waivers. John Mozeliak had mentioned in recent interviews that the Cardinals would take Perdomo back given the opportunity but the Padres acquired their third St. Louis right-handed reliever in the last 6 months. This one was basically free.
The Cardinals are still strong in terms of right handed relief prospects. Chris Perez resides at AAA. The unexpected conversion of Jess Todd back to relief adds another arm to the list. Fernando Salas, currently injured, is a viable if not quite ready option once healthy who would ideally be something of a mid-2010 callup.
Deeper in the system, the Cardinals have a pair of live arms in Francisco Samuel and Adam Reifer. Both have top flight stuff but their command is somewhat questionable. It’s impossible to predict what reliever is going to come out of the woodwork as they periodically and unexpectedly do. They’re a fungible and volatile commodity, especially on the fringes.
That said, John Mozeliak and Co. took a gamble this offseason and lost. There’s really no spin to put on it. They hoped that Perdomo wouldn’t get picked and he did. They hoped he’d have a terrible spring and get returned and he didn’t. They hoped no one would scoop him off of waivers but the lowly Padres did. The professed reason was that they didn’t want to burn an option year on Perdomo. Quoting John Vuch:
With right handed relief being one of our biggest areas of organizational depth, placing Perdomo on the 40-man roster would have meant starting the clock on his options this spring. With the RH relievers we have ahead of him in the organization, it likely would be a couple years before he’d be in the majors with us, and saving an option year could turn out to be necessary down the road.
Vuch is right in that saving an option year down the road could be important for Perdomo. The part that I believe he and Mozeliak are wrong about is whether it’s important for the Cardinals organization. In that context, it isn’t. The depth ahead of and behind Perdomo should allow the Cardinals a great deal of flexibility to try relievers in the near and long term. If players stick, great. If not, someone else will.
Whether the Cardinals were anticipating more late 40-man additions like Dennys Reyes is difficult to know. There’s some benefit of the doubt to be given in keeping alternative paths open on the 40 man roster. The season has started now, however, and that numbers stands at 37. Crystal Ball reading is needed at the time of the Rule-V draft but it looks like the front office needs to have theirs polished if they were this unsure about space on the 40-man roster.
Even more perplexing was the associated addition of Matthew Scherer. Scherer’s not a bad pitcher but he’s not more than a fringe middle reliever either. He’s as likely to turn into Andy Cavazos as he is someone like Brad Thompson, i.e. moderately useful but near replacement level. The fact that he’s now injured only rubs salt in the wound but the front office chose to protect a less talented pitcher this year who is only arguably more prepared than Perdomo for the bigs. 99 times out of 100 this is going to be a bad decision.
If we as a blogging community are being honest with ourselves, this story and the continued furor isn’t just about Luis Perdomo. The front office walked into the Anthony Reyes buzzsaw once again and we were happy to turn up the power. Quotes like “we got $50, 000 for Anthony Reyes”, while technically true, are linking together disparate decisions that are interrelated only by the players and not the decision making process. The lingering distaste over the Reyes situation speaks towards our (myself included) refusal to bury a grudge rather than the poor evaluation of the Perdomo situation.
Flip the assessment around — if Perdomo was hurt or pitching terribly and the Cardinals had held onto him, they’d be ridiculed for only keeping him becuase he’s the remnants of that trade. There’s no rationale way to believe that when the decision was made this offseason, Cardinal Brass turned to each other and said, “Do you think we should add Perdomo to the 40-man roster? If we don’t, we won’t have anything to show for Anthony Reyes. . .” That’s an absurd proposition and it’s not how management is making their decisions.
Instead, the Perdomo situation is troublesome inherent to itself and what it portends for the future. The Cardinals had easy decisions to make regarding the Rule-V draft from an outside perspective. Plain and simple they made poor decisions regarding Perdomo and Scherer. In the next few years, the Cardinals will be hard pressed to protect all their outfield options and their relievers with starting pitching coming up right beind that. They need to a) do a better job of determining which minor league talent is major league viable and b) do a better job of transitioning players to the majors. The latter is much more difficult than the former but the Memphis Shuttle is detrimental to relieving these log jams.
The loss of Perdomo does little to cripple the system or hurt the Cardinals bullpen in any real way. What it tells us about the future is perhaps more troublesome and certainly more cryptic.