Few could argue that Miguel Batista didn't deserve it when he got the short haircut a couple of days ago from the Cardinals front office.
Sometimes it improves the team just to get rid of a bad performer, even if you don't have a logical replacement. Hall of Fame Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey used to call that "addition by subtraction."
But I'm curious about the timing of the decidion to get rid of Batista while Ryan Franklin -- who has been even wose in the precious few times he has been used since April -- remains in the St. Louis bullpen.
Even though Batista was terrible in his most recent outing, the Cardinals don't have the luxury of cherry picking major league ready arms from the farm system. They promoted Lance Lynn, a starter in the minors, to work out of the bullpen in the big leagues. True, that's how the Cardinals matured Adam Wainwright into a Cy Young contender. But Lynn doesn't come with Wainwright's blue chip pedigree. He was mediocre in his only two previous major league appearances and he's projected as a back of the rotation starter at best.
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Meanwhile, Franklin has given up 40 hits in 25 1/3 innings so far this season. In his most recent appearance he gave up seven hits -- including a pair of home runs -- in a 1 2/3-inning outing in which he yielded four earned runs. Why does Franklin get to stay when Batista had to go.
The possibilities include:
Batista could have been a clubhouse cancer. But if he was, I hadn't heard anything about it. If anything, he seemed like a non-factor in the bullpen chemistry mix. And that's a little disappointing from a 40-year-old veteran. But it isn't a reason to throw him out on the street when Franklin gets to stay.
Maybe Batista was jettisoned because the Cardinals are on the verge of a deal. Lance Lynn was already on the 40-man roster. So, by getting rid of Batista, the Birds cleared a 40-man slot. They're now clear to trade a prospect who isn't on the 40-man for a major league player who could help them now.
Still, why not Franklin?
Maybe Franklin knows too much. He's been a Cardinal now for five years. Maybe he knows where too many bodies are buried. It was a nightmare situation for the Cardinals when Jim Edmonds was released by the Padres and landed with the Cubs because he was an ace at picking up body language tips from pitchers and hitters alike. Everyone tips their pitches. It's just a matter of whether anyone notices the sometimes incredibly subtle signs. Edmonds suddenly was a wealth of information about the Cardinals' weaknesses for their arch rivals. Could it be the same deal with Frankie?
Or maybe the Cardinals steal signs and Franklin, who usually in the bullpen where he's in the batters vision, knows something about it. Maybe he runs the program.
This is all purely speculation. But there has to be something to the fact that the Cardinals refuse to part with -- or try to fix -- a completely ineffective pitcher while dumping another guy who was bad -- but not nearly as terrible as Franklin has been in 2011.