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*).

5 Comments

  • Gvl Steve says:

    Ok — a token move that might help a little without giving up a top prospect. Rzka;sdhfopiashp is a situational lefty matchup guy only. I doubt you’ll see him pitch a full inning very often with the year he’s having, but if he can get LH hitters out he’s needed here. Thanks for posting the phonetic, because I had no idea how to pronounce it. I thought it would be Shaw who would go down. He has an option and is having a bad year, but Vinny makes sense if he can work on things. His arm slot still looks off to me. Hurry back, Vinny.

  • Sean Porter says:

    The Tigers meanwhile, knowing Jhonny Peralta is on the verge of being suspended for the rest of the season, solved their impending hole at shortstop by being involved in the three-team trade involving Jake Peavy. They added Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox, a slick fielding young shortstop who they will plug in at shortstop for the next five or so years.

    While Peralta was the better bat, Iglesias hasn’t been a push over at the plate this season in limited time, and is easily the superior fielder. Also, Peralta was about to become a free agent. This feels like the Victor Martinez season-ending injury situation prior to last season, which necessitated the Tigers going out and getting Prince Fielder. Somehow something possibly catastrophic happens to them – and poof! they come out even better.

    *Sigh*

    • medfest says:

      They gave up a 22yo potential slugger for good field so-so hit SS,it’s not that great of a deal.Kind of an expensive insurance policy imho.

      Rzepcynski strikes me as the type of pitcher the Tribe thinks they can tinker with and make better,like Esmail Rogers last season.Let’s hope they’re right.

      • Sean Porter says:

        It depends on who you believe concerning Garcia. Some see him as potentially a faster Magglio Ordonez, others doubt he’ll ever be more than an occasional power guy with horrible plate discipline.

        One of the biggest weaknesses the Tigers had was their team defense, Iglesias just turned a weak spot at short into a strength. The guys on ESPN (Olney, Law, Kurkjin) all raved about his fielding ability, touting him as the best defensive shortstop in the A.L. now.

      • The Doctor says:

        iglesias’ career minor league numbers, his BABIP, and his stats since july indicate this is a guy much more likely to hit .230 than to continue hitting .330. sure, peralta is an impending FA, but i’d sure as hell rather face iglesias 20 times a year than peralta.