The Memphis Redbirds Report: 09/03/08

The St. Louis Cardinals' Triple-A club went 4-3 on the week, ending their season as the second-most winning team in franchise history, but missing the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year.

Recap

 

This report covers the six-day period from Tuesday, August 26 through the end of the regular season, on Monday, September 1.

 

Though their playoff hopes had already been quashed, the Memphis Redbirds continued to play hard in the American North Division of the Pacific Coast League's final week of the regular season, going 4-3. The Redbirds finished in second place, eight games behind the Iowa Cubs.

 

The Redbirds ended their two-year run of losing seasons, tallying the second-most victories in franchise history with their 75 wins (against 67 losses). Only the PCL champions of 2000 won more games, with an 83-61 record. It has also been eight years since post-season ball was played in Memphis.

 

Of the 11 players to have made their major league debut with St. Louis this season, nine of them played for Memphis in 2008 and one later rehabbed there (Brian Barton). Of the rookies, only Kyle McClellan has never suited up for the Redbirds. The ones who did: Joe Mather, Nick Stavinoha, Rico Washington, Mitchell Boggs, Mike Parisi, Mark Worrell, Jaime Garcia, Chris Perez and as of Wednesday, Jason Motte joined the list.

 

Day by day

 

The Redbirds exacted a small bit of revenge against the Cubs by taking two of three on Tuesday through Thursday at AutoZone Park. The original series opener on Monday the 25th had been rained out and was not made up.

 

On Tuesday, Memphis held on for a 5-4 win. Randy Flores, Mark Worrell, Kelvin Jimenez and Jason Motte combined for 3 1/3 shutout innings of relief to back winner P.J. Walters. Rico Washington had three hits, including a home run and four RBI.

 

The Redbirds took the second game of the series on Wednesday, 6-4, as they erased a four-run deficit in the process. This time, Ron Flores, Jimenez and Motte tossed four innings of scoreless relief behind Mitchell Boggs. Jarrett Hoffpauir's two-run home run was the big statement by the offense.

 

Iowa avoided a Memphis sweep on Thursday, spanking Clayton Mortensen and the Redbirds. In the 8-3 victory, the Cubs scored all their runs in the first three innings. Washington again swung the hot bat, with a pair of home runs and all three Memphis RBI.  

 

On Friday, Memphis welcomed the Oklahoma RedHawks to town with a 1-0 shutout tossed by enigma Blake Hawksworth. "Hawks" allowed only four hits, walked no one and fanned six in 6 1/3 innings. It was just his fifth win of the season. Jason Motte picked up his third save in the last four games. David Freese had three hits and Brendan Ryan collected the lone RBI on a sacrifice fly.

 

Oklahoma broke a scoreless tie with five runs in the fourth inning off Jess Todd on Saturday. Jarrett Hoffpauir doubled and slammed a two-run home run and Washington went deep for the fourth time in five games in the 7-3 RedHawks win.

 

The RedHawks continued to swing the bats, with a 10-7 win on Sunday. With a 4-4 tie heading into the ninth, Jimenez yielded six runs, though only one was earned. Ryan doubled twice and homered while Freese cut the gap in half with a three-run blast in the home ninth.

 

On Monday, Memphis halted their two-game losing streak and ended their season on a winning note with a 4-2 win over Oklahoma. Boggs allowed just one run over seven innings for his ninth win and Motte picked up his fourth save of the week and ninth of the season. Unsung reliever Mark Worrell added his 15th hold. Mark Johnson singled, doubled and plated two. D'Angelo Jimenez had two hits and scored twice.

 

PCL

 

Their team batting average ended at .272, ninth among the 16-team league. The offense was tied for tenth in home runs, eleventh in strikeouts and 12th in runs scored. Memphis finished 14th in stolen bases.

 

The mound staff was tops in the PCL in ERA at 4.34 and also paced the circuit in strikeouts. They ranked eighth in walks issued.

 

Individually, Josh Phelps ended in a three-way tie for third in the PCL with 31 home runs. Phelps' 97 RBIs were ninth-most and his .568 SLG mark was eighth. Nick Stavinoha's .337 average ranked fifth.

 

Mitchell Boggs' 3.45 ERA led the league among those who qualified. With 122 strikeouts, P.J. Walters finished in seventh place. With 12 saves, Kelvin Jimenez ranked in eighth and though he is set in St. Louis now, Chris Perez' 11 saves placed him among a group tied for ninth.

 

On the Move

 

Six players were promoted to St. Louis for September play. They are relievers Randy Flores, Kelvin Jimenez and Jason Motte, infielders Brendan Ryan and Brian Barden and catcher Mark Johnson. All except Motte had prior MLB experience.

 

Jaime Garcia was returned to Memphis last Thursday as first baseman Josh Phelps made his St. Louis debut, replacing Garcia on the Cardinals' active roster.

 

Veteran infielder Rico Washington was outrighted off the major league 40-man roster. He will be a free agent after the season; same with Ron Flores, D'Angelo Jimenez, Juan Gonzalez, Cliff Politte, Joe Rogers and John Wasdin. Barden, Johnson and Phelps would also become eligible if they don't stick on the 40-man beyond the end of the regular season.

 

Not on the move

 

Players on the 40-man roster that did not receive a September call to St. Louis are reliever Mark Worrell, starters Blake Hawksworth, Jaime Garcia and Mitchell Boggs and infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir. Of the five, only Hawksworth and Hoffpauir have yet to make their MLB introduction.

 

On the mend

 

In his rehab assignment, outfielder Colby Rasmus was transferred from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals to the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, where he played the final three games of the regular season and went 0-for-9.

 

Other players that ended their season on the DL include Politte, Rogers, Mike Parisi, Mike Sillman and Jon Jay.

 

Garcia is getting a second opinion, but may require Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery as Parisi already had last month.

 

Winter ball plans

 

In addition to his September call-up, Motte was selected to pitch in winter ball and plans to suit up for the Hermosillo Naranjeros of the Mexican Pacific League, likely starting in October.

 

Outfielder Shane Robinson and shortstop Tyler Greene are among eight Cardinals farmhands chosen to play in the Arizona Fall League in October and November.

 

Up Next

 

The 2009 edition of the Memphis Redbirds are scheduled to open their 2009 season at AutoZone Park against the Oklahoma RedHawks on Thursday, April 9.

 

Technically, the Cardinals have not finalized a two-year extension of their Player Development Contract with the Redbirds, but the deal is expected to be completed in the next two weeks, Team President Dave Chase told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal earlier this week.

 

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

 

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