Edward Mujica isn't exactly a household name.
But he was just what the doctor ordered for a sagging St. Louis bullpen and he helped the Redbirds go from a pretender to one game from the World Series.
Now the deal the Cardinals made for him looks even better with the Sunday news that the Marlins -- a team that burned its roster to the ground over the winter -- have designated the guy the Cardinals traded for him for assignment.
Zack Cox, 25, was St. Louis' first round draft pick from 2010.
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Cox hit .254 with nine homes for the Class AAA Memphis Redbirds before the trade. After the swap, the Marlins assigned Cox to the Jacksonville Suns in Class AA. There he hit .253 with one homer.
He hit .300 for the spring. But Cox never really was given a chance to compete, doing so in only 10 at-bats.
It makes one wonder what the Marlins were thinking when they traded for a guy they immediately demoted and then released him without ever giving him a chance to show what he has to offer. Did they scout Cox at all before they traded for him or did they just see that he was a former first rounder and make the deal based on reputation?
When Cox was drafted his agent insisted on a major-league contract which was expected to force the Cardinals to push him to the majors quickly. This is the fourth year of the $2-million deal. So it looks as if the strategy backfired when the University of Arkansas product couldn't make one of the least talented teams in baseball and now has to start from scratch.
Here is the blog post I wrote at the time of the trade:
If Zack Cox is disappointed to go from the defending World Series champion Cardinals to the perpetually rebuilding Marlins, he should blame his agent instead of St. Louis General Manager John Mozeliak.
Although his overall batting average this year is nothing to write home about, he's come on strong lately and there's reason to believe that Cox is still has major league potential. But when he signed, his agent insisted that Cox be given a major league deal as opposed to a typical minor league contract.
The reason was it required the young third baseman to be placed on the 40-man roster and theoretically be set on the fast track to the major leagues. But it seems to have had the opposite result: Cox may have major league talent. But he's not close to being ready for the big leagues. And. since the Cardinals had to use one of his three options in 2011 and another in 2012, next spring would be the last time the Birds could send Cox to the minors without the risk of losing him
Basically, Cox and his agent gambled that he would be major league ready in three years -- or else the Cardinals would have to let another team willing to put him in the majors claim him off waivers. With David Freese in his prime and Cox struggling to handle Class AAA ball, Cox made himself less valuable to the organization and he was cut loose.
I think the Cardinals might have been more patient with Cox had they not had the threat of losing him in a year and a half hanging over their heads. I thought it was a strange request to be put on the MLB roster when Cox clearly wasn't straight to the majors sort of prospect. And I suspect the Cardinals might not have drafted Cox at all had they anticipated the quirky demand.
But the bottom line is, the contract diminished Cox's value to the organization. So I'm less shocked he was traded for a relief pitcher than I would have been if he had a more typical contract. And maybe Cox is happy that he's going to a club that doesn't seem to have a problem with filling its major league roster with players who are not quite ready for prime time.