According to Walton, the 28-year-old Dominican Republic native is arbitration-eligible this offseason, but has exhausted his three years of minor league options. Benoit struggled with elbow, shoulder and biceps ailments this past season.
Last season, Joaquin Benoit, the 6'3", 220 lbs., right handed reliever went 4-4 with no saves with a respectable 3.72 ERA, appearing in 32 games for the Rangers, pitching a total of 87 innings.
The 87 innings he pitched were significantly more than any of the Cardinals' relievers from last season. To put things in perspective, Julian Tavarez pitched in 65.2 innings, Al Reyes 62.2, Brad Thompson 55.0 and Cal Eldred 37.0 innings.
My take on any potential deal for Benoit, would be that he would come in and take the place of free agent, Julian Tavarez, who we don't think will be back next season.
Benoit, described as a swingman, is a pitcher who is both a spot starter and reliever, or as according to the Dickson Baseball Dictionary, a pitcher who can enter the starting rotation when the regular starter is not able to play. Last season, he made nine starts for the Rangers and 23 relief appearances.
Benoit would not likely get very many starting opportunities in St. Louis. A stat that went unnoticed by many fans and reporters was that, only two pitchers, Cal Eldred and Anthony Reyes made any starts last season for the Cardinals, other than the starting five members of the rotation and they each just made only one start a piece.
Benoit was nearly forgotten, by the Texas Rangers, when the season began. He had right elbow problems that forced him to get a late start. But he came on very strong later in the year, particularly in a relief role which is what has attracted the Cardinals attention.
It's the relief role, where Benoit has been traditionally, significantly more effective, that the Cardinals will use him in.
The scouting report on Benoit, is that he is the prototypical live arm, which is why the Rangers protected him throughout 2004, even though he was out of options.
His fastball runs so much, Benoit has trouble reining it in and commanding the strike zone. When he tries to work the corners, walks abound. He has the stuff to excel, but needs to put hitters away more consistently when he is ahead in the count.
He is kind of a slow learner and still overthrows at times (too much). I would think within the Cardinals organization and under the tutelage of pitching coach, David Duncan that Benoit should show improvements in this area of his game.
He needs to cut down on his pitches per inning (18.3 for his career), because he can get to 100+ pitches by the fifth or sixth inning at times and this isn't going to lead to a long-term career of any type, especially in St. Louis.
Benoit held opponents to a low batting average, this season, but pitch efficiency, continues to be an issue. I would suggest you discount his career stats of 19-19 with one save and a 5.17 ERA. He is a much better pitcher than those numbers would suggest.
Benoit has five pitches in his repertoire. A two and four seam fastball, a curve ball, slider and change up.
Benoit's four seam fastball ranges from 94 mph to 97 mph, at the top end. He uses his fastball to get ahead of batters, but at times there can be control issues. He would probably be better off to take a little off this pitch to improve his command and location of pitches.
He also has a two seam fastball, with above average speed and movement and two different curve balls that he uses.
His slider is very good, from 85 mph To 87 mph and uses this pitch as his out pitch and it is a very effective pitch to get right-handers out especially.
While you can call Benoit a swingman, the Cardinals will be looking for him to work primarily out of the bullpen. Last season for Texas, as a starter Benoit was 2-4 with a bloated 5.96 ERA, but as a reliever he went 2-0 with a 1.30 ERA.
If healthy, Benoit could be effective for the Cardinals as a guy you could go to early in relief, to get to the setup man then closer.
The Cardinals will need to check out Benoit's arm. He has been on the DL more than once, with right rotator cuff irritation and right elbow inflammation.
Benoit should excel if given the opportunity to pitch in St. Louis, I say give it to him.
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