Troy Percival Rumors
The Cardinals signed former closer Troy Percival to a minor league contract today. Walt Jocketty dealt with competition from at least six other clubs for Percival's services. The signing was somewhat surprising, as the Cardinals were not named as a representative at Percival's recent workout.
Percival is a bit of a luxury for St. Louis, as their bullpen hasn't been too shabby. Cardinal relievers have a 3.41 ERA, third best in the National League. As Jeff Sackmann asked here a few days ago, can Percival even help a big league club? He remains a longshot. But if he is going to make a difference, he's picked the right division for it. The Cardinals apparently expect him to slide into a setup role eventually.
For all the ink being spilled over the soon-to-be home of Troy Percival, is this guy really going to make much of a difference? For all of his career saves, he really didn't have that many dominating seasons, and of course it's been a few years since he put together a full healthy season, regardless of quality.
Anyway, Rosenthal checks in with a report on the teams present at Troy's most recent workout, notably new additions the Braves and the A's. Atlanta shouldn't come as a surprise: John Schuerholz has been on a mission to have a solid pen ever since last year's debacle, and with Mike Gonzalez going on the shelf for the rest of the year, it's only natural that he'd seek another late-inning option. The A's are less obvious, but also make sense in their way: they've been aggressive in acquiring high-risk, high-reward type players, and they are also short a couple of relief arms due to injury.
Finally, the Philly Inquirer cites reports that the Phillies and Tigers are most interested in Percival.
By Jeff Sackmann
Brew Crew Ball
My apologies for posting some rumors from a few days ago; I'm still catching up. Today's let's look at some recent Cardinals trade rumors.
The first question is whether the team should conduct some form of a fire sale. Right now, they're still mired in the NL Central race at 6.5 games out. But if the team does spiral out of contention by July 31st, it might make sense to trade Jason Isringhausen. He's probably their best trading chip. Cards beat writer Joe Strauss mentions the Braves, Indians, and Cubs as teams that would have interest in the 34 year-old closer. After Izzy was nearly left for dead/retired in '06, he's bounced back with 13 saves in the season's first two months. He makes $8.75MM this year with an $8MM club option for '08. That includes a $1.25MM buyout.
The Isringhausen trade option represents the worst case scenario. Let's consider what the Cardinals might do to improve in the short term. Catcher Yadier Molina should be sidelined for at least a month with a broken wrist. One option is Royals catcher Jason LaRue, who's owed about $1.65MM on the season by KC. The one concern is that LaRue is 7 for 57 on the season, and didn't hit at all last year. At 33, he may have to permanently join the Brotherhood of Backup Catchers, if he hasn't already. Yadier's brother Jose may be an option as well.
Also on the radar: comeback kid Troy Percival. The Cards will watch him throw, if they haven't already. St. Louis joins roughly a half-dozen teams in the Percival pursuit. More than that, if you add the Giants and A's to the mix.
My apologies to the loyal readers hoping for more posts this weekend - my wife and I are painting the condo. Good times.
For those keeping score at home, here's a summary of Troy Percival's suitors. He won't be returning to the Angels, but plenty of other clubs want in.
Though interest hasn't been confirmed, Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon thinks highly of Percival. The Indians are another club where only speculation exists. Let's add the Cubs to that list; Phil Rogers notes the team's interest in the 2004-05 offseason. Back then, the Cubs wisely decided to open the season with LaTroy Hawkins at closer given Joe Borowski's broken hand. OK, maybe not so wisely.
Last week, two teams publicly showed interest in the Tigers and Phillies. Now we know the Marlins are "closely monitoring" Percival as well. It wouldn't be right to have a Marlin season go by without the club resurrecting a closer.
Speculated interest: Devil Rays, Indians, Cubs
Confirmed interest: Tigers, Phillies, Marlins
Not interested: Angels
The Angels aren't interested in reliever Troy Percival, but several other clubs will be in attendance when he works out for teams in a week or two.
The Tigers are publicly showing interest, as Percival left the club on good terms despite barely pitching for them. He was voted a playoff share last year and used the money to buy a suite for the players' wives. With Joel Zumaya out for quite a while, the Tigers could use another arm at the back of the bullpen. Contrary to previous reports of 97 mph (subtract five mph from anything an agent says) Percival is topping out around 92 these days.
The Phillies also want in; they remain desperate for relief help. They'll attend his workout. The Indians gave a "no comment" on the Percival topic, but I can't see why they wouldn't send someone to observe the workout. I also can't see why Rafael Betancourt isn't closing, but that's my fantasy side talking.
Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times highlights a connection that could bring Troy Percival to Tampa Bay, should the Angels pass. Topkin notes that Rays manager Joe Maddon, a former Angels bench coach, thinks very highly of Percy.
Tampa Bay would definitely provide an opportunity for Percival to get some late-inning work. Al Reyes won't be giving up the closer role anytime soon; he's been a godsend with a 1.37 ERA and 4.6 K/BB. Juan Salas seemed a candidate to lock down the setup role, but he recently earned a 50 game steroid suspension.
It would seem wise for the Devil Rays to shop Reyes this July. Some team might pony up an unreasonable bounty for the bullpen help. Then again, Reyes does help Devil Rays fans maintain their sanity in the ninth inning.
UPDATE: I spoke too soon - the comeback is on. It sounds like Percival wants a late inning role on a contender.
Another comeback almost as interesting as Rickey's is Troy Percival's. Though a decision on the comeback was supposed to come down today, we haven't heard anything yet. Mike Scioscia urges caution, saying that he has a lot to overcome before he's ready for the big league grind again.
Top Angels' relievers Francisco Rodriguez and Scot Shields had amusing reactions, but their presence really locks up the late innings for the Halos. A healthy Percival could possibly supplant Darren Oliver or Hector Carrasco as a long man, as both have been horrible this year. It's conflicting - this is Troy Percival, so we want to see him as an Angel. But we also want to see him pitching the ninth.
According to Ken Rosenthal, former Angels and Tigers closer Troy Percival may make a comeback attempt. Percival's agent says the chances are 50/50, and that he was clocked at 97 recently. As Rosenthal says, someone will give him a shot if he does come back. Percival will likely decide today, and he'll call the Angels first.
Percival turns 38 in August. He received an ill-advised two-year, $12MM deal from Detroit prior to the 2005 season, and ended up pitching 25 innings over the life of the contract.
I want to somehow work in Percival's hilarious exchange with Sam Walker and his associate in the book Fantasyland, but it's unprintable. Check it out though.