Yesterday the news from the St. Louis Cardinals camp. Pitchers Lance Lynn, Tyler Lyons, Seth Maness and Jordan Walden were activated from the 60-Day DL. However, to make room for the first three, which maxed out their 40 man roster, OF Jeremy Hazelbaker and pitcher Dean Kiekhefer were placed on waivers. And, the Cardinals were in hopes they would be able to outright both to the minors. The best laid plans did not work as planned.
Jeremy Hazelbaker, top-of-the-order in the ninth inning, slugs out a home run to spoil Cubs Kyle Hendricks possible no hitter, September 12. (Photo-Chris Lee, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Jeremy Hazelbaker was claimed off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Dean Kiekhefer was claimed by the Seattle Mariners. The Cardinals did not exercise their $5.250 MM (2017) option for Walden sending him to the 2017 free agent pool.
Hazelbaker, 29 years old, made his first major league appearance this past season after spending nine years in the minors. As collective injuries befell the Cardinals in Spring training, Hazelbaker got the nod and was placed on the Opening Day roster. He was a ball of fire during his first two weeks in 2016, slugging out a .481 BA with three home runs. But, as we have seen from rookies, that average began to decline; and, he spent time back at Memphis to recapture his lethal ways at the plate before being brought back to St. Louis. He did not return with quite the cannon of his early season. With limited play, he closed the season with a .235 BA/.480 SLG/12 HR/28 RBI on 47 hits with seven doubles and three triples, adding 35 runs. His last home run of the season, #12, was probably the sweetest of the season on September 12. In the bottom on the ninth, Cubs Kyle Hendricks pitching a no-no through eight. Top-of-the-order, Hazelbaker sends a missile out over the right wall to spoil Hendricks no-no and was the only hit given up by the Cubs that game. Also, four of Hazelbaker's home runs were as pinch hitter.
The 27 year old LHP Kiekhefer, 5.32 ERA, was better than his average indicates, in my opinion. He, also, spent time between the Cardinals and the Memphis Triple-A Redbirds this past season. While with the Cardinals, he was in 26 games and pitched 22 innings. Three (2.2 IP) of his 26 games, he gave up 2 or more earned runs. The remaining 23, three games (2.1 IP) he only gave up a total of 3 ER, holding the opposition scoreless in the remaining 20.
Walden, 28 year old, was part of the Cardinals trade with the Atlanta Braves which brought him and Jason Heyward to St. Louis in 2015. He pitched 10.1 innings, holding a 0.87 ERA, in relief before being placed on the DL due to shoulder/arm issues in 2015. He did not return in 2015; or, in 2016. So no surprise that the Cardinals did not opt to take his options for 2017.
I extend my best to all three players. The Cardinals will not face Kiekhefer in 2017, as the Mariners are not on their schedule. However, we may just see Hazelbaker facing our Cardinals pitchers this coming season, June 27-29 at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ. And, again, at Busch Stadium, July 27-30. Cardinals fans know, he does present a threat at the plate; and, definitely, has speed around the bags.
BRANDON MOSS - TOMMY PHAM
OF/1B Brandon Moss, .225 BA/28 HR/67 RBI did not receive a QO from the Cardinals, putting him into the Free Agent pool. Unless, a lesser contract can worked out between the Cardinals and the 33 year old, we may see him back. To me, I would have chosen OF Tommy Pham to place on waivers vs. Jeremy Hazelbaker. Pham, .226 BA/9 HR/17 RBI and, granted, another with very limited play off the bench. However, in his 159 AB he had 71 strikeouts. As my friend, Mary Margrave, and I were 'talking' ~ Pham probably would have made it through waivers.