St. Louis Cardinals: Tim Cooney Departs Leaving Few Lefties

In the wake of the rule 5 protection deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals opted to not protect Tim Cooney and he was snatched immediately by the Cleveland Indians.

Friday marked the deadline for protecting prospects by adding them to the 40-man roster and the St. Louis Cardinals decided to roll the dice with a few of their prospects.  Tim Cooney was just such a risk and one that was immediately grabbed by the Cleveland Indians.

Cooney was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round of the 2012 amateur draft.  He came to the organization from Wake Forest University.  This 25-year old was under team control until 2023 and his first arbitration year was set for 2020.  This was all before yesterday when he was snatched by the Indians.

Most recently, Cooney missed the 2016 season with injury.  Cooney had been set to serve as a starter for AAA Memphis through 2016 on a path to rise to St. Louis in 2017.  The organization had thought well of Cooney but also thought well of his pen-mate, Marco Gonzales.  The organization was faced this offseason with a decision between the two and decided on Friday to risk Cooney.

Regarding Cooney’s injury, Tim felt discomfort during the 2016 spring training and was shut down before opening day in the minors.  In July of 2016, Cooney underwent exploratory surgery to scope the problematic left shoulder.  Surgery uncovered a calcium buildup which was addressed and he was expected to be completely ready for spring training 2017.  This will occur now with Cleveland rather than St. Louis.

Here’s a look at his career minor league stats:

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
2012 21 STL-min A- 3 3 3.40 13 55.2 56 21 4 8 43 1.150
2013 22 STL-min AA,A+ 10 13 3.56 26 154.1 170 61 9 22 148 1.244
2014 23 STL-min AAA 14 6 3.47 26 158.0 158 61 21 47 119 1.297
2015 24 STL-min AAA 6 4 2.74 14 88.2 61 27 9 16 63 0.868
2015 24 STL NL 1 0 3.16 6 31.1 28 11 3 10 29 1.213
1 Yr 1 0 3.16 6 31.1 28 11 3 10 29 1.213
162 Game Avg. 6 0 3.16 34 177 159 62 17 57 164 1.213
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/19/2016.

For comparison, and to highlight the decision the organization needed to make this offseason, these are Gonzales’ minor league stats:

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
2013 21 STL-min A+,Rk 0 0 2.70 8 23.1 18 7 1 8 23 1.114
2014 22 STL-min AAA,AA,A+ 9 5 2.43 21 122.0 110 33 10 27 117 1.123
2014 22 STL NL 4 2 4.15 10 34.2 32 16 4 21 31 1.529
2015 23 STL-min AAA,AA,A+ 1 5 4.69 18 80.2 102 42 10 24 61 1.562
2015 23 STL NL 0 0 13.50 1 2.2 7 4 1 1 1 3.000
2 Yrs 4 2 4.82 11 37.1 39 20 5 22 32 1.634
162 Game Avg. 16 8 4.82 44 149 156 80 20 88 128 1.634
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/19/2016.

Notice the similarities?  In AAA play, Gonzales has ranked a greater number of strike outs but Cooney fared better in MLB play (limited sample admitted).  Both Cooney and Gonzales were under team control for the same length of time and both were removed from 2016 with injury.  Now the difference stands in the fact that Gonzales remains with St. Louis while Cooney does not.

In Cooney’s departure, the St. Louis Cardinals organization is left with the following lefties: Gonzales, Jaime Garcia, Tyler Lyons, Zach Phillips, Kevin Siegrist, and the injured-and-to-miss-2017 Zach Duke.  Gonzales was reviewed above, but what of the others?

Garcia, Lyons, and Siegrist (and Duke had he remained healthy) were and are slated for the St. Louis Cardinals MLB roster in 2017.  Their respective career ERAs are 3.57, 4.05, and 2.70 (and Duke’s 4.31).

Anticipated minor leaguer, Zach Phillips who was added to the Cardinals roster on Friday and assigned to Memphis, comes from the Pirates organization and had been outrighted in their organization on November 2nd of this year.  Phillips, to his credit, has four years of MLB experience from the pen where he has pitched 22.1 innings for an ERA of 3.22.

These are Phillips’ minor league and Japan stats for his career:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L ERA G GS SV IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
2005 18 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk-A TEX 1 3 4.14 16 11 0 54.1 59 25 3 13 77 1.325
2005 18 Rangers ARIZ Rk TEX 1 3 3.93 14 11 0 50.1 52 22 3 13 73 1.291
2005 18 Clinton MIDW A TEX 0 0 6.75 2 0 0 4.0 7 3 0 0 4 1.750
2006 19 Clinton MIDW A TEX 5 12 5.96 28 28 0 142.0 178 94 5 66 126 1.718
2007 20 Clinton MIDW A TEX 11 7 2.91 27 27 0 151.2 139 49 6 43 157 1.200
2008 21 Bakersfield CALL A+ TEX 8 9 5.54 28 28 0 144.2 161 89 10 73 117 1.618
2009 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-AA TEX 2 3 1.39 36 3 4 77.2 46 12 2 30 75 0.979
2009 22 Bakersfield CALL A+ TEX 2 3 1.23 16 3 2 44.0 19 6 1 11 46 0.682
2009 22 Frisco TL AA TEX 0 0 1.60 20 0 2 33.2 27 6 1 19 29 1.366
2010 23 2 Teams 2 Lgs AAA-AA TEX 3 2 2.69 45 1 5 67.0 59 20 1 34 63 1.388
2010 23 Frisco TL AA TEX 0 0 1.08 12 0 4 16.2 9 2 0 5 23 0.840
2010 23 Oklahoma City PCL AAA TEX 3 2 3.22 33 1 1 50.1 50 18 1 29 40 1.570
2010 23 Ponce PRWL FgW 1 0 5.40 8 0 0 6.2 6 4 0 5 1 1.650
2011 24 2 Teams 2 Lgs AAA TEX-BAL 2 4 4.01 47 0 4 58.1 62 26 3 28 45 1.543
2011 24 Norfolk IL AAA BAL 1 1 2.63 14 0 1 13.2 12 4 0 7 7 1.390
2011 24 Round Rock PCL AAA TEX 1 3 4.43 33 0 3 44.2 50 22 3 21 38 1.590
2012 25 Norfolk IL AAA BAL 2 2 3.17 42 0 7 54.0 56 19 1 22 45 1.444
2013 26 New Orleans PCL AAA MIA 4 2 2.44 50 0 1 59.0 49 16 3 24 74 1.237
2014 27 Hiroshima JPCL Fgn 1 0 3.27 9 0 0 11.0 8 4 1 3 7 1.000
2015 28 Charlotte IL AAA CHW 1 1 3.13 46 0 12 54.2 47 19 1 20 64 1.226
2016 29 2 Teams IL AAA BAL-PIT 9 3 4.35 51 0 2 62.0 60 30 3 33 85 1.500
2016 29 Norfolk IL AAA BAL 9 3 4.45 49 0 1 60.2 60 30 3 30 84 1.484
2016 29 Indianapolis IL AAA PIT 0 0 0.00 2 0 1 1.1 0 0 0 3 1 2.250
Minors (11 seasons) Minors 48 48 3.88 416 98 35 925.1 916 399 38 386 928 1.407
Foreign (2 seasons) Foreign 2 0 4.08 17 0 0 17.2 14 8 1 8 8 1.245
A (3 seasons) Minors 16 19 4.41 57 55 0 297.2 324 146 11 109 287 1.455
A+ (2 seasons) Minors 10 12 4.53 44 31 2 188.2 180 95 11 84 163 1.399
AA (2 seasons) Minors 0 0 1.43 32 0 6 50.1 36 8 1 24 52 1.192
AAA (6 seasons) Minors 21 14 3.40 269 1 27 338.1 324 128 12 156 353 1.419
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/19/2016.

Is he the solution to the departed Cooney?  While older than Cooney, he does bring a greater amount of MLB and overall experience.  Perhaps Phillips simply needs the new start with the Cardinals.

A quick note: other players are being gambled in the rule-five-40-man-roster game.  These include Mitch Harris, Alberto Rosario, and Mike Ohlman.  The St. Louis Cardinals had gambled with Dean Kiekhefer (another lefty nonetheless) and Jeremy Hazelbaker— both of which were snatched by other teams.  An important piece of note too is that Cooney, claimed through rule 5, must make the 25-man roster for the entire 2017 season or he will be returned to the Cardinals.

As an interesting side note, has anyone else noticed that Mozeliak is willing to left left-handed players depart?  Is he planning something big for the left side of the Cardinals?  Could this mean that someone like Chris Sale or a left-handed bat like Kevin Kiermaier be on their way to the Cardinals?

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The Cardinals have their 40-man roster full at present but this should not prevent them from adding anyone through trade.  As the days continue and as the winter meetings approach, the St. Louis Cardinals are set to become busy.  The question remains whether they will or not.  Stay with us for updates.

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