Random Musings on the Minors Moves (Part 1)

First in Leonda Markee's new series analyzing the Cardinals minor league player transactions this winter.

The Cardinals juggled their minor league rosters this off-season, in part to protect players in both phases of the Rule 5 draft that took place on December 8th. Those rosters had to be set by November 19th. Therefore, some of the players listed in yesterday's article "Minor League Roster Shuffling" were moved multiple times. The initial move came in November and reflected the level at which each player was covered for the Rule 5 draft. The final move indicates the level at which the player is likely to start the '06 season. My best speculation, and it is entirely a guess, is that any additional move beyond two was probably a pre-Rule 5 repositioning for additional protection.

After all that, here are my thoughts on the known moves –

Tyler Adamczyk (RHP) – Adamczyk got protected through Memphis which means other teams would have had to draft him in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. That is not a likely scenario since Adamczyk's '05 season is one he would probably like to forget or at least ask a "do-over" on. He began in the Palm Beach (A-Advanced) rotation before being demoted to the Quad Cities (A) rotation on June 12th. He subsequently lost his slot in that rotation, moving to the bullpen. He was not successful at any level in '05. The final move sent him back to Palm Beach. This move is as close to a "do-over" as you can get, except that there is no such thing in baseball. Hence Adamczyk starts '06 at exactly the same spot at which he began '05 which is not a good thing if you are Tyler Adamczyk.

Roberto Batista (RHP) – Batista's one move is from Palm Beach to Springfield. Springfield is likely where Batista will begin '06. With three of Springfield's bullpen apparently headed for Memphis (Cavazos, Doyne and Kinney), the Springfield bullpen needs replenishing. Batista had a solid '05 in Palm Beach with eight starts in forty-three game appearances. He compiled a 3.29 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and .253 BAA in one hundred one and one-third innings pitched. His worst stat was his 1.16 K/BB ratio.

Buddy Blair (LHP) – Blair was protected through the Memphis level and then moved to Springfield. The main message I got from this series of moves is that a still-breathing lefty has value. 2005 saw Blair begin in Springfield, get demoted to Palm Beach where he had two stints on the disabled list, get demoted further down to short-season A New Jersey at which point he finally succeeded. That got him a minor promotion to Quad Cities where he ended the season. Like Adamczyk Blair begins '06 exactly where he started '05. Like Adamczyk this is not a good thing if you are Buddy (aka Thomas or Tom) Blair.

Shaun Boyd (OF) – Boyd moved from Springfield to Memphis and may begin '06 there. He will minimally compete for a spot in the Memphis outfield but could well find himself back in Springfield if none of Chris Duncan, John Gall and Skip Schumaker either make the major league squad or are traded. If Boyd ends up back in Springfield he will probably be behind Reid Gorecki and Cody Haerther. I expect Gorecki to be given another shot as Springfield's centerfielder and Haerther has left field. That leaves right field, a position Boyd did not play at all in 2005.

Andy Cavazos (RHR) – Cavazos was protected through the Memphis level which is where he will likely begin 2006. With the usual off-season turnover in bullpens, there are slots available in Memphis. The Cardinals like Cavazos well enough to send him to the Arizona Fall League in 2005. Although he did not excel there, 5.40 ERA, 1.54 WHIP and .266 BAA in sixteen and two-thirds innings pitched over nine games, I expect the Cardinals to give him a chance in Memphis, particularly if he has a strong showing during the 2006 Spring Training.

Carlos De La Cruz (OF) – De La Cruz was jumped all the way from New Jersey through Springfield. I think he was protected this high because Tony Granadillo was not. (After compiling a .315/.413/.565/.978 '04 season in Johnson City, Granadillo was inexplicably left unprotected. Boston rubbed salt into the '04 World Series wounds by snatching him in the 2004 Rule 5 draft. Granadillo's 2005 season was shortened due to injuries but he did go .291/.384/.427/.811 in sixty-seven games at class A Greenville.) While De La Cruz did alright in New Jersey, .281/.322/.369/.690 in forty-four games and one hundred sixty-six at bats, I do not foresee any scenario in which he starts the 2006 season in Springfield.

Dennis Dove (RHP) – Dove was protected up through Memphis and then moved back to Palm Beach. Since I already expected Dove to start 2006 at Palm Beach, where he ended 2005, this move comes as no surprise.

Cory Doyne (RHP) – Doyne was moved from Springfield to Memphis. I expect him to begin 2006 in the Memphis bullpen with the goal of making him their closer. This move opens up a closer slot in Springfield for Mark Worrell, Palm Beach's closer and the 2005 Rolaids Relief Man – the minor league's top reliever. In a domino effect the Palm Beach closer role will come open, possibly for Quad Cities' closer Mike Sillman.

Matt Dryer (3B) – Dryer was apparently protected through Memphis and then moved to Springfield. With Springfield's 2005 third baseman, Travis Hanson, seemingly going to Memphis, Dryer looks to be Springfield's 2006 third baseman. While Dryer did not hit for average while on the 2005 Palm Beach team, .219/.296/.416/.711 in one hundred twenty-one games and four hundred thirty-three at bats, he did lead the Palm Beach team with twenty-one home runs. His glove work is also shaky so I do not see him as Springfield's long-term third baseman.

Kevin Estrada (Utility) – Estrada was promoted from Springfield to Memphis where I expect him to remain. He played seven of nine positions in Springfield last season with the only two not played being centerfield and catching. He will fill a slot in Memphis that was previously filled by multiple players on the 2005 Memphis team. No single 2005 Memphis Redbird had the versatility of Estrada. I really root for this guy and look forward to seeing him in Memphis for 2006.

Tomorrow, I will look at another set of roster moves and give my thoughts on their implications.

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