From Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch comes word that the Cardinals have inked utilityman Eugenio Velez to a minor league contract. They also signed left-hander R.J. Swindle to a similar deal.
Velez collected no hits in 40 plate appearances this past year for the Dodgers and posted a brutal .164/.246/.309 batting line in 29 games for the Dodgers in 2010. The 29-year-old is not expected to crack the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster and is likely to function merely as organizational depth.
Swindle, 28, has only nine major league relief appearances to his name. He registered a 4.15 ERA and 36/17 K/BB ratio in 34 2/3 innings this past season for the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in Durham, North Carolina.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.