At one time, Hummel was viewed as the possible heir to the second base job for the White Sox, but his stock fell after a poor 2002 season. He was moved to the Reds in August, 2003 in a trade for Scott Sullivan. The Reds tried Hummel at third base, but were not satisfied with his throwing arm. He can hit the fastball and has shown some promise against lefties, but has not proven he can handle good offspeed stuff.
The Red Sox claimed Hummel after the Reds put him on waivers last September, however he was not asked to join the team in 2004. Hummel was 0-for-10 in 2005 spring training action before being assigned to Pawtucket.
Hummel is likely being added as a minor league reinforcement rather than as a prospect. He has been assigned to the Memphis (Triple-A) club, who have needed an offensive spark since Scott Seabol was called up to the Cardinals last month.
Versatility is important to the Cardinals and Hummel fits the bill, as he can play all four infield positions. He has not yet appeared in the outfield, at least in the majors. But, with this organization, expect Hummel to be tried there at some point.
Hummel will apparently take over third base for Memphis' interim starter, Bo Hart. Hart continues to struggle with Triple-A pitching, currently batting .240. The move may also imply that former Memphis starter Scott Seabol is staying in the big leagues, at least for the time being.
The combination of outfielder Roger Cedeno being on a rehab assignment in Memphis, Larry Walker's continued injuries, Seabol's learning to play the outfield and the team's desire to add an outfielder with a power bat for the bench means that the 25-man roster will surely undergo further change in the next five weeks as the trading deadline approaches.
While the message boards and emails have been buzzing with speculation and analysis of possible trade targets, looking at past history would clearly signal to us that whoever Walt Jocketty acquires to strengthen the team is likely someone not in the headlines. Master Yoda might say that it is difficult to be patient, but patient we must be.
As long as no serious injuries strike, the Cardinals can continue to bide their time until other teams fall further out of contention and get more serious about trading players who can contribute at the major league level. Tim Hummel is not that, but can be a piece to help complete a puzzle whose picture currently remains unclear.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com