Unable to buy a big-name arm or, apparently, a vowel, today the Indians acquired LHP Marc Rzepczynski (zep-CHIN-skee) from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for minor league infielder Juan Herrera.
Rzepczynski, 27, has a major league record of 9-17 with a 4.20 ERA in 177 games/23 starts between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cardinals since he made his debut with Toronto in 2009. In his major league career, lefties have a .224 (73-326, .607OPS) average off him. His best season came in 2011 (shared between Toronto and St. Louis), when he had a a combined ERA of 3.34 (62.0IP, 50H, 23ER, 61K) in 71 games while tossing 2.2 scoreless innings (4K) in the 2011 World Series for the eventual champion Cardinals.
This season, Rzepczynski has a 7.84 ERA in 11 appearances for St. Louis, which had optioned to Triple-A Memphis earlier today. Rzepczynski has pitched 44 innings for Memphis this season, with a a 3.07 ERA and a .185 opponents’ batting average against lefties.
Going into Tuesday’s game, Cleveland’s left-handed relievers had combined for a 6.47 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in 65 1/3 innings, so any capable left arm is welcome. All we have right now is Rich Hill, who has a 6.35 ERA in 42 appearances this season.
Who did we give up for Rzepcynski? The 20-yearold Juan Herrera, who hit .275 with one home run and 11 RBIs through 39 games for Class A short-season Mahoning Valley this season.
A quick straw poll of some of the IPL writers on the trade came up with these responses:
Adam: “Some trades cause major ripples throughout the league and division… but you will need a magnifying glass to see the ripples of this trade. It does say a lot about how desperate the indians are for a lefty not named Rich Hill, though.”
Chris: “Can’t hurt. I already trust him more than I do Hagadone.”
Susan: “For $1.1 million this year and the possibility of keeping him two more seasons? What could it hurt?”
Joe: (A collective sigh)
Stephanie: I’ve had a splitting headache for most of the day, and decided to lay down for about 45 minutes in the hopes that it would go away. (It really didn’t) So I woke up to news of this trade, and my head hurt, and I was disoriented, and for some reason I thought they’d acquired Jeff Samardzija. Because apparently I lack reading comprehension skills when there are a lot of consonants involved. I kept thinking “why does this say they traded with St. Louis instead of the Cubs?” Eventually I finally realized what had happened. My next thought: “oh great…he has two years of control after this so now I’m going to be looking up this guy’s name 300 times a year until 2016.” This probably shouldn’t be your first thought when a team makes a trade, but I was basically indifferent to this move. I guess that more arms in the bullpen never hurt, particularly those of the left-handed variety since that’s been an obvious weakness this year. But Rzepczynski has struggled this year; in fact he’s only thrown 10.1 innings in the majors and was demoted to Triple-A Memphis at the end of April (he came back and pitched on Sunday in Atlanta and yesterday in Pittsburgh).
I think that Rzepczynski should be used strictly in match-up situations – left handed hitters are batting .224/.298/.310 off of him in his career, while righties hit .271/.359/.439. In limited major league action this year, pretty much everyone is hitting well off of him – lefties .294/.278/.353 and righties .407/.500/.593. He may have more luck this year if he just put the ball on a tee for the right-handed batters. For comparison’s sake, left-handed batters are hitting .190/.304/.293 off of current bullpen lefty Rich Hill, while righties are hitting .306/.397/.408. I’d rather see Rich Hill against left-handed hitters at this point, although to be fair he has seen steady improvement over the past month.
The Indians surrendered a shortstop that was at Mahoning Valley, and they have a lot of depth at that position in the organization right now. This seems like it isn’t a big loss, unless Herrera becomes a star several years down the road (not that likely, but not out of the realm of possibility). The good news – if Herrera does become a star, we likely would have forgotten he was ever with the organization by that point. Until some jerk like me continually reminds everybody (*cough* Chris Archer *cough*).