St. Louis Cardinals: Is Signing Seth Maness A Good Idea?

Former St. Louis Cardinals reliever Seth Maness recently showcased his talents in front of 16 different major league teams.

The story of former St. Louis Cardinals reliever showcasing his health and talent was originally reported by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. While this may not get as much publicity as the Tim Lincecum showcase, it is an important moment for pitchers everywhere. Maness is pitching in front of teams for the first time since his UCL repair procedure (that isn’t Tommy John surgery) and could change the way future pitchers recover from elbow injuries.

As a member of the Cardinals bullpen Maness was used heavily in ground ball situations. This role suited him well, considering his career percentage for creating grounders is 59.4. In his 2016 season that was shortened by a UCL tear, Maness had an ERA of 3.41, however has consistently posted a sub 3 ERA out of the bullpen.

Maness is not the biggest named free agent in the world, but he certainly can add talent to a bullpen. That being said, he comes with risks. The procedure he went through is considered experimental and many pitchers choose Tommy John surgery over it because of the unknowns. That being said, Tommy John went through risks when he pioneered what is now the go to surgery for a torn UCL.

Since these teams saw him pitch, some of the inherent risk is reduced due to the fact they saw him throw. However, the majority of the risk comes in the longevity of the repaired UCL. If a team signs the 28-year old pitcher to a four year deal, for example, and his UCL gives out after two years then they now lose Maness for a year out of the contract. Then he comes back with a twice operated on elbow which is more likely to end his career rather than find him a team.

Part of the success rate of primary repair is the fact that no pitcher who has gone through the procedure has needed more work but Maness is will be the first pitcher to attempt to take on a professional workload. He will be the true test for the longevity of the potentially groundbreaking procedure.

The question now, is should the Cardinals take a chance on Maness? No. They don’t need him and that would essentially just be throwing money away and Matt Bowman is the ground ball pitcher who fills the void Maness left. Some team should take a chance on Maness but St. Louis just doesn’t have a need to fill by signing him.

With the probable move of putting Michael Wacha in the bullpen, he adds another righty to the bullpen to call on. Even though he will likely be in a long relief role, he doesn’t have to be limited to that. He may not be able to create ground balls at the rate of Maness, but Wacha creates more ground balls than anything else. He has a career ground ball rate of 45 percent.

There will also be the return of Trevor Rosenthal who possesses a dynamic arm in the bullpen now that he is healthy. Having a flamethrower to call on will be very helpful in the upcoming season especially since the team has expressed interest in making Rosie’s role similar to that of Andrew Miller from the Indians.

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This recovery time could open the door for all pitchers, and Maness has talent. He will land somewhere, it just shouldn’t be with the Cardinals. When he does it will be worth watching how his season unfolds, because the new Tommy John could become known as the Seth Maness.

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