Former St. Louis Cardinals LHP Randy Choate closed his major league career with St. Louis in 2015 at the age of 39. He spent the 2016 season in the minor league levels, as he signed a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. At age 41, he decided his time had come. He made the announcement last week, February 16, he was retiring from baseball. The "LOOGY" King has retired his cleats, exiting baseball after a 15 year major league career.
The "LOOGY" King retires at the age of 41, after 15 years in the majors. (Photo: Getty Images)
Did we, Cardinals fans, ever hear that term, "LOOGY" when Choate approached the mound? Our lefty specialist? We certainly saw him come in to face a lefty and shut the batter down for a final out in an inning. Even with his crazy side-winder mechanics, he was effective in his task. LOOGY is just that, "A left-handed specialist is sometimes called a LOOGY (or Lefty One-Out GuY), a term that can be used pejoratively and which was coined by John Sickels." (Left-handed specialist - Wikipedia).
His time with the Cardinals, he accomplished a feat that has yet to be matched. And, with "LOOGY's" becoming less a featured need for teams, he may hold the record forever. His 2015 season, not his best logged with the Cardinals; however, the season that he made the record. He pitched in 71 games for a total of only 27.1 IP. So, more effective vs. exceptional. There is no other lefty that has made as many appearances with so few innings pitched. In those few innings, Choate logged only five walks and 22 strikeouts. However, in the interim, he allowed 29 hits for 2 HR/12 ER with a 1.244 WHIP.
When Choate came to the Cardinals in 2013, that was his season best with the team. He closed the season 2-1/2.29 ERA/1.047 WHIP in 64 games and 35.1 innings pitched.
"When Jesse Orosco, who is considered the patron saint of loogies, was in his age 42 season with the Orioles in 1999, he appeared in 65 games and pitched 32 innings. That’s as close as Orosco came to what Choate’s done this season. Only one reliever has made at least 60 appearances with fewer than 30 innings. In 1992, Boston’s Tony Fossas barely snuck under those parameters — 60 games, 29 2/3 innings." (Ryan Fagan, Sporting News)
Choate made his debut with the Cardinals, April 3, 2013. (Photo: Getty Images)
During his tenure in the majors, he made his debut July 1, 2000 with the New York Yankees. Since his beginning with the Yankees, he made his Loogie performances with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Florida-Miami Marlins, Dodgers and his final three seasons with the Cardinals. Choate sustained only one injury throughout his career, breaking a bone in his left hand during Spring training 2008. He had been signed to a one year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the season. Due to the injury and rehab, he was held in the minors and eventually signed to a minor league contract before being released as a free agent.
IF Randy Choate would have had his way, he would have pitched until he was 50, in the majors - he loved the game that much. He was a mentor in the Cardinals dugout for the young pitchers and a great addition in the locker room. However, spending a season in the minors. Not being called up by the Dodgers organization, I feel gave him time to reflect on any hopes of another team picking him up.
In his last season with the Cardinals, with fans groaning at times when he came to the mound. He was up and down the ERA scale; which as I recalled, lead to the Cardinals decision to let him walk to free agency. April - 9 G/6.75 ERA/2.2 IP. May - 13 G/2.27 ERA/7 IP. June - 14 G/0.00 ERA/6.1 IP. July - 15 G/9.64 ERA/4.2 IP. August - 12 G/4.50 ERA/4 IP. And, September - 0.00 ERA/2.1 IP in 7 games. As exceptional as we had witnessed Choate in 2013, that season was not realized in 2014 - 2015. Even so - "In his three years wearing a Cardinals uniform, he appeared in 196 games, hurled 98 2/3 innings, and recorded a 3.56 ERA. Lefties went 44 for 243 against Choate in those three years, amounting to a .181 batting average." (Nathan Grime, Redbird Rants) In his three years with the Cardinals, most innings pitched were .02 or less. When you think about it, pretty amazing. In my opinion, the true meaning of a "micro-specialist".
His legacy as a Cardinals, Randy Choate will more than likely hold the LOOGY record, games played/minimum innings pitched, in the MLB. As Ryan Fagan wrote: [In 2015] "His longest appearance is 1 2/3 innings, which he’s done twice. In terms of batters faced, it’s seven, back in May in a game against Cleveland. In that one, he threw 28 pitches (also a season high), allowed one hit and hit one batter but didn’t allow any runs."
CLOSE AN INNING
I only wish Randy the very best in this new venture he has decided to take. As I recall, overall, he was a solid lefty for our Cardinals. "Two outs on the board, runners on and Choate is called to the mound." One-Two-Three ~ "Stuck him out" comes to mind.
Inconceivable? I count no pitcher out, veteran or 'prospect', with the beginning of a new season. In my opinion, St. Louis Cardinals 23 year old rookie RHP Luke Weaver will be in the competition for a starting role. No? Since Alex Reyes is now definitely on the DL until 2018 - why not Weaver?
Prospect/Rookie Luke Weaver made his debut with the Cardinals August 13, 2016.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Weaver was brought up from Memphis Triple-A for his debut, August 13, 2016. Starter Michael Wacha was put on the DL due to a reoccurring rare shoulder injury. In 2016, minor league season, he pitched 77 innings with the Springfield Double-A team (6-3/1.40 ERA). He had virtually just been promoted and arrived at Memphis. He started one game, 6 IP, 1-0/0.00 ERA and was penciled in to start his second when he got the call he would be traveling to join the Cardinals to make his major league debut as a starter.
His debut, facing the very strong Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. He went four innings, giving up four hits, one home run and only two earned runs and recorded his first three major league strikeouts.
Alex Reyes, who had made his major league debut, August 9, followed for the next three innings holding the Cubs to the two earned runs on the board; and, only allowed one hit. Two prospects hold the Cubs to only two runs on the board in their home field. Cardinals went on to win the game, 8-4, with Reyes receiving the win.
Yes, Reyes was expected to be among the Cardinals "Five" in 2017. As injury goes, Reyes is out of the picture having to undergo Tommy Johns surgery this past Thursday. He will not return until 2018. So, Weaver does have the potential to take his place. At least, in my opinion.
His first six starts, he only gave up a max of three earned runs in two of those starts, with nailing down 39 strikeouts and only issued nine free passes. 3.86 ERA. His debut at Busch Stadium was tremendous.
Then, his start on September 16, facing the San Francisco Giants, his game took a dive. He allowed five hits for six runs - but, no earned runs. The defense behind him did not have his back. He was replaced in his third inning. Next start, only saw two innings and was credited with six "earned" runs. His last game, coming from the bullpen, he had inherited runners. Playing the Cincinnati Reds, starter Jaime Garcia had given up two earned runs in one inning pitched. Wacha, in his 2.2 IP, gave up the next seven earned runs. Weaver following Wacha for .02 IP, saw five more earned runs go on the board. The Reds routed the Cardinals that day, 15-2, off three of Cardinals hurlers.
WEAVER ~ NO INJURY SHOULD WEIGH HEAVILY IN HIS FAVOR
Reyes, Wacha, J Garcia; even Trevor Rosenthal, share one thing in common - injury. Luke Weaver is still healthy and has not sustained injury throughout his minor league or major league careers. Weaver is not one of our "WoW" pitchers. He did not close his rookie season on a high note with his 1-4/5.70 ERA. Even though, I believe, the experience of last season fueled his reviews of his performances only to improve. To bring to the major league mound what he was able to accomplish on the minor level. As all have, he's had the full off-season to work on that endeavor.
WEAVER TO PROVE TO BE A HERO IN 2017
Clay Beyersdorfer, The Redbird Daily ~ St. Louis Cardinals: Luke Weaver to the rescue? "What makes Weaver good is that he has a good repertoire – he topped out at 96.4 miles per hour last year, and averaged 91.6 MPH. The kid doesn’t throw like Alex Reyes, but he has a solid fastball. He mixes it in plus off-speed pitches – something Rosenthal doesn’t have, yet everyone is ready to pencil him into the starter position." "...... Luke Weaver could be our hero, and maybe we just don’t know it yet."
As I mentioned before. I count no pitcher out beginning a new season. In my opinion, Weaver will be an above performance over Michael Wacha and ... Trevor Rosenthal. Bold? Can you give me reasons why not? Paper numbers are just that - a resource to base "projections" from. Wacha closed last season, 5.09 ERA. Rosenthal with a 4.46 ERA. Just sayin'.
As Spring Training began in Jupiter FL for the St. Louis Cardinals, the disappointing news hit Cardinals Nation. Top prospect pitcher Alex Reyes to undergo Tommy John's surgery.
Prospect Alex Reyes will return in 2018 due to Tommy John's surgery.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Disappointing news; but, in my opinion, not devastating. However, no matter the team, one does not like to hear that a pitcher goes to the DL for an entire season. In addition to Reyes, he was not the only pitcher lost. Reports of prospect Corey Littrell failed his drug test for a "second time" and placed on a 50-game suspension. Prospect Kendry Flores’ minor league contract was voided due to failing his physical. "Cardinals non-roster camp invitee Kendry Flores is heading for an MRI after reporting shoulder discomfort, according to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter). The 25-year-old was added on a minor-league deal over the winter, so was likely seen more as a depth piece than a key member of the staff. He owns a 3.78 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 150 career innings at Triple-A." (Jeff Todd, MLB Trade Rumors)
Starter Carlos Martinez and closer Seung Hwan Oh slated to pitch in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
Cardinals are down three pitchers to begin Spring training. Soon, Carlos Martinez and Seung Hwan Oh will be departing as they are on the roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. The Cardinals add two prospect pitchers to their spring roster. Right-handed pitchers Junior Fernandez and Jake Woodford.
Per Steven McNeil, RedbirdRants.com - Analysis: "He is very raw right now, but he is a projectable power arm that the Cardinals snagged out of the Dominican Republic during the 2014 international signing period. Fernandez has the potential to be a front of the line starter, and has a fastball that projects out to be about 60-65 grade pitch right now, he has also been known to be able to touch over 100 MPH with this fastball, like his teammate Alcantara." No scout grade was indicated.
Again from Steven McNeil, regarding Woodford: "Scout Grade: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Change-up: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45 Analysis: Here we another 2015 draft pick making the top 15, as the Cardinals grabbed him with their competitive balance pick and signed him over slot. He is a big kid with a hard sinking fastball, who reminds me of Lance Lynn for some reason. I am not alone on that as Brian Walton of Scout.com believes that in the same sense that everyone touted Lynn as a “workhorse” in 2008, Woodford has the same label. "
Cardinals signed Woodford right out of high school. Not a deal the Cardinals make a practice of and have not done since Jack Flaherty and Shelby Miller. Therefore, this very young hurler must have won the Cardinals faith in developing into one of their stronger pitchers in the future.
Spring training games will begin Saturday, February 25. Looking forward to seeing both of these prospects at work.
RELIEVER MITCH HARRIS BACK IN CAMP
YADIER MOLINA NEWS
Catcher Yadier Molina, free agent in 2018. Cardinals could exercise their option ~ a $15 MM mutual option/$2 MM buyout on the books. (Photo - St. Louis Cardinals Archives)
Watching the MLB Network this morning, subject matter, of course, ST touching on each team. Among a few specifically mentioned, Cardinals catcher Yadi Molina was in the mix. Not only a career extraordinaire; but, soon to depart for the WBC. The 'talk' that caught my ear - early "preliminary extension contract discussion" between the Cardinals and Molina camp. Now, Cardinals fans, keep in mind the key word here is "preliminary". Just the beginning 'whisper of a squeaky noise'. However, for Cardinals fans that have been wondering what the future may hold regarding their beloved catcher. Just thought you might want to know. Heck - Yes - let's stir the rumor pot of the MLB.