Auditing Cards September Call-Up Predictions

Revisiting Brian Walton's mid-August forecast on who would get the call to St. Louis in the final month.

On Tuesday night, after the final out of the Memphis Redbirds' disappointing 11-inning loss in the Triple-A Championship Game, word surfaced that four players would be heading to join the major league St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday in Houston.

They are infielders Tyler Greene and David Freese, right-handed reliever Josh Kinney and catcher Matt Pagnozzi. The former three have major league experience while the latter player must first be placed onto the organization's 40-man roster. With only 38 players on the roster coming in, the addition of Pagnozzi is easy, at least for the short-term.


In numerology, Greene and Kinney get back their old numbers 27 and 52, respectively. Freese's former 12 is now worn by Julio Lugo, so the third baseman will instead be sporting Brian Barden's and Anthony Reyes' old 23. Pagnozzi will don number 19 for his MLB debut, the number last worn by Nick Stavinoha.


Notable Memphis contributors sent home include infielder/outfielder Allen Craig, second baseman Jarrett Hoffpauir, left-handers Jaime Garcia and Royce Ring and right-hander P.J. Walters.


I will discuss Garcia and Walters later. Hoffpauir has the ability to get on base, but the Cardinals are already crowded in the middle infield. Tyler Greene is clearly ahead of him in the pecking order. Same for Craig and Freese. Ring had already been removed once from the 40-man roster. His hopes of a comeback were totally hinged on the Cardinals wanting a third left-hander. That didn't happen.


Over six weeks ago, back on August 8-11, I ran a two-part series here entitled "Projecting Cards September Call-Ups". At that point, Memphis' wonderful playoff run was not anticipated.


Based on past years, for the entire month of September, I projected as many as four position players and five pitchers might be added. Instead, the Cardinals made the wise (non-)move to leave the Triple-A Redbirds' roster intact through their post-season.


As such, as September opened, the Cardinals only re-added three players to the expanded active roster, two pitchers and a position player – Todd Wellemeyer, Kyle Lohse and Troy Glaus. Now, you might not want to count these MLB veterans as call-ups, but here is why I do, at least in a round-about way.


Because it was September, these established major leaguers did not bump others off the active roster that might otherwise have been at risk for demotion had it been prior to September 1. In all three cases, the Cardinals needed to see what they have in the three as October nears.


Now, let's see how I did in my earlier predictions.


8/11 Prediction 9/23 Call-Ups
Mitchell Boggs already with St. Louis
P.J. Walters miss
Blake Hawksworth already with St. Louis
Josh Kinney correct
Jaime Garcia returning from TJ surgery
Matt Pagnozzi correct
Tyler Greene correct
David Freese correct
Nick Stavinoha injured, out for the season


Of the nine call-ups I predicted, I had six correct for a 66.7% accuracy rating. No players were promoted that were not on my list of nine. Given I made my cut six weeks early with no knowledge that Memphis would play on this long, I submit that is a pretty good score.


Two pitchers, Mitchell Boggs and Blake Hawksworth, were already in St. Louis as September began, so did not require a recall. They were the ones most likely on the bubble had room been required for Lohse and Wellemeyer.


I correctly named all four of the additions this week – Kinney, Pagnozzi, Tyler Greene and Freese.


Though one major media Cardinals watcher did not include Pagnozzi among his projected call-ups as recently as last week, the catcher's omission must have been an oversight. For as long as I can remember, the Cardinals bring up a third catcher to give the starter rest and the back-up work to get sharp heading into the playoffs.


I missed my predictions on the following three players.


Nick Stavinoha lost his chance on August 28 for a return to St. Louis when he suffered a season-ending injury. An errant pitch broke a bone in his left hand.


Had that unfortunate injury not occurred, I believe the power-hitting outfielder would have been back with the Cardinals. In fact, in my earlier projection article, I featured Stavi in the photo. Here is hoping there is no Sports Illustrated-like cover jinx here!


P.J. Walters was another miss. The right-hander had three separate stints in the majors this season, his rookie year, but was stung by inconsistency down the stretch with Memphis. Walters was last optioned out on July 23 and did not return.


In his nine regular-season starts back in Memphis, Walters went 5-3 with a 3.99 ERA overall. It was very much a Jeckyll and Hyde performance, however. Walters mixed some very good starts with a three-game stretch in late August during which he allowed 14 earned runs in just 6 2/3 innings.


P.J. then allowed five earned runs in 8 2/3 post-season innings. All told, the 24-year-old tossed a career-high 145 2/3 innings in 2009 after having also pitched in winter ball in Puerto Rico. Some rest and fine tuning would seem best for Walters at this point.


Left-hander Jaime Garcia returned from Tommy John surgery even stronger than I expected, and remember that I projected him as a September call-up while he was still back in A-ball in the early stages of his rehab stint.


In nine regular games across three levels beginning on July 23, Garcia was nothing short of spectacular. The 23-year-old logged a 2.87 ERA in 37 2/3 innings, during which he fanned 41 and walked just 14.


In the post-season, Garcia was even better. Winning game one of both the Albuquerque and Sacramento series, he tossed 12 innings of one-run ball for a microscopic 0.75 ERA on just four hits and three walks. Garcia fanned 13 in arguably the biggest games of the year for Memphis.


There are rumblings that Garcia was pulled from the start in the Triple-A Championship Game Tuesday night due to soreness brought on by his considerable workload – roughly 50 innings over just his first 60 days back.


With the full benefit of hindsight, bringing who I see as their top prospect to St. Louis now would seem a bad idea. Better Garcia rests up and is ready to compete for a major league rotation spot in 2010.



In a subsequent article, I will share my post-season roster predictions, but in a preparatory comment, among the six, I would assign the highest odds to Hawksworth and Freese.




Brian Walton can be reached via email at Catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.


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