Cards on Lookout for Lefty Who Can Help Rzepczynski; Club Will Head to Winter Meetings with Its Options Open

By Goold, Derrick | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 26, 2012 | Go to article overview

Cards on Lookout for Lefty Who Can Help Rzepczynski; Club Will Head to Winter Meetings with Its Options Open


Goold, Derrick, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


When Cardinals lefty Marc Rzepczynski looks back at the past season and the struggles he had at times, he shares the club's view some selective editing shows when and where the reliever had his greatest success. For both, it's a matter of math.

Rzepczynski would like to subtract a month.

The Cardinals believe he's best when they add a lefty.

"Rzep's peripherals were still pretty good, but there is some external variables that affect him that we need to make sure as an organization we get right," general manager John Mozeliak said. "I think usage is critical. I think having another lefty made him feel better. When he was a one-man band out there he didn't pitch as well. That's why we need to find someone." As next week's winter meetings approach, the Cardinals have spent the opening weeks of the offseason window shopping and comparative pricing. Their list hasn't changed. Near the top is a lefthanded reliever for the bullpen, preferably an established lefty to join Rzepczynski in the job of erasing an opponent's lefthanded hitters. Of the lefties the

Cardinals used this past summer, only Rzepczynski remained with the team for the entire season. He was the only lefty the Cardinals had in their bullpen for the final 12 games of the postseason.

The desire to add a lefty from outside the organization could push the Cardinals into an area Mozeliak has rarely had reason to go: a multi-year commitment to a specialist. Of the 12 lefthanded relievers who have had at least five appearances for the Cardinals since Mozeliak became general manager only one, Dennys Reyes, arrived on a multi-year contract.

And that was signed during spring training.

"I'm not opposed to a multi-year deal with a reliever," Mozeliak said. "In the past we've always been chasing that complementary lefty, whereas this year we might be looking for someone who can share the burden with Rzepczynski." In 70 games during the regular season, Rzepczynski had a 4.24 ERA, and lefties hit .255 against him as he collected 18 holds, the middle-relief equivalent of a save.

After the All-Star break, Rzepczynski had a 2.08 ERA, though he was used sparingly as the Cardinals settled into their three-headed answer to the seventh, eighth and ninth innings: Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and closer Jason Motte. Rzepczynski's overall season was inflated by a difficult June that included a 9.39 ERA and three homers allowed in 7 2/3 innings.

"I'd love to have been for the entire season the pitcher I was at the end. I'd be pretty happy with that year," Rzepczynski said. "There was a bad month. Everybody goes through a stretch like that where I didn't get anybody out. I'd make a good pitch, and I'd get hit. And then I'd make a mistake, and it would get hit even harder." His "bad month" actually started in mid-May. For a stretch of nine appearances, Rzepczynski allowed seven runs in 7 1/3 innings and had an 8.59 ERA. There was another element to those struggles in that span: He was alone. The Cardinals released J.C. Romero on May 14 and went without a second lefty until June 1. Twice during the regular season Rzepczynski went an extended period as the sole lefty reliever, and his ERA during those 14 appearances was 7. …

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