The Cardinals are interested in right-handed reliever Steve Karsay, who was recently released by the Yankees.
The Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs are also reported by a variety of sources to be interested in Karsay, who would only be owed the Major League minimum salary by any team that signs him.
General manager Walt Jocketty made a rare confirmation Sunday when he said that the Cards have been in contact with Karsay, who is expected to make a decision on his future soon.
Our take "In the House" is that the Cardinals are pretty well satisfied with the makeup of the bullpen and potential backups playing in Memphis. At 24-13, 11 games above .500, there is no pressure for the Cardinals to have to make this deal.
If a deal is made the Cardinals would most likely assign Karsay to AAA Memphis. If he decides to sign with the Texas Rangers or Chicago Cubs, he would likely be put on their 25 man roster and play immediately for either one of those two clubs at the major league level.
That said, the signing of Karsay could be good deal for the Cardinals. When healthy, in the past Karsay has been one of the better setup men in all of baseball. The big question is, is Karsay willing to accept a minor league assignment?
Appearing in seven games in September for the Yankees in 2004, Karsay posted no record and a 2.70 ERA (6.2IP, 5H, 2ER, 2BB, 4K). He began the season on the 60-day disabled list rehabilitating from right shoulder surgery and made rehab stints with Triple-A Columbus, Double-A Trenton and Single-A Staten Island prior to joining the Yankees in September. With Columbus Karsay was 0-0 with a 5.56 ERA in 11 games and he was 1-0 with a 7.50 ERA with Trenton and made three perfect appearances with Staten Island before he was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list on September 1st. Karsay while effective in his brief stint with the Bronx Bombers, was left off the Yankees post season roster.
Steve features a mid 90's fastball and a sharp curve when he's on. Given an opportunity to pitch at AAA Memphis for about a month could be enough to get him back in form for a return to the majors by the All Star break.
Karsay had a 6.00 ERA in six appearances for the Yankees and has pitched just 6 2/3 innings over the previous two seasons because of injuries, so it's obvious he needs to get some work in before you would put him on your 25 or 40 man roster.
Releasing Karsay was a costly move for the Yankees. Karsay has a $5 million salary this year, and his contract contains a $6.5 million option for 2006 with a $1.25 million buyout.
Coming off a successful 2001 season split with Cleveland and Atlanta, Karsay became a free agent and signed a $22.5 million, four-year deal to become the Yankees' setup man.
Karsay filled the role in 2002, pitching in 78 games, finishing with six wins and 12 saves and a solid 3.26 ERA. But Karsay missed the entire 2003 season while recovering from surgery on his right shoulder (rotator cuff) and missed practically all of the 2004 campaign, working in only seven games last season.
For his career, Karsay is 31-38 with a 3.89 ERA, 41 saves and 444 strikeouts in 578 1/3 innings, in 10 seasons with Oakland, Cleveland, Atlanta and the Yankees.
Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa and Pitching Coach Dave Duncan have a brief history with Karsay dating back to when the three were all in Oakland.
Karsay orginally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays organization, was traded to the Oakland A's in July of 1993 as part of a deal for Rickey Henderson.
Karsay appeared in about 12 games for LaRussa and Duncan as a starter over the 1993 & 94 seasons. Missing all of the 1995 season, he continued to pitch for the Oakland organization until December of 1997 when he was traded to Cleveland.
Karsay has a long history of arm problems, again missing all of the 1995 and 2003 seasons, and most of the 1994 and 2004 seasons.
If he's healthy, Karsay could play a key role in the Cardinals pennant drive, down the stretch. At the major league minimum salary, he's worth the risk.
NEVER MIND - Karsay had the nerve to sign a minor league deal late Sunday with the Texas Rangers after I went to all the trouble to write this article. The nerve.