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News » Cardinals trade for reliever Barton goes to Braves as Boyer joins a bullpen that remains a work in progress.


Cardinals trade for reliever Barton goes to Braves as Boyer joins a bullpen that remains a work in progress.


Cardinals trade for reliever Barton goes to Braves as Boyer joins a bullpen that remains a work in progress.
The Cardinals may not have reopened camp but they certainly reopened competition within a still-vague bullpen Monday by acquiring relief pitcher Blaine Boyer from the Atlanta Braves for exiled former Rule 5 draftee Brian Barton.

Boyer joins the club today as its eighth reliever. Third baseman David Freese learned Monday he would be optioned to Class AAA Memphis.

The Braves designated Boyer for assignment Saturday, meaning they had 10 days in which to trade, release or outright the 27-year-old Atlanta native who worked 76 games for them last season.

"When we look at our bullpen situation, it made sense to at least pursue it," general manager John Mozeliak said in a teleconference. "One of the things we have is depth in the outfield. I believe it's fair for both sides."

Boyer becomes the Cardinals' sixth righthanded reliever and is projected in middle relief within a group still seeking more clearly defined roles. Boyer is the fourth arm added to the relief corps since last Wednesday.

P.J. Walters, Mitchell Boggs and Chris Perez joined the club during its recent trip.

The Cardinals last week optioned righthanded relievers Brad Thompson and Josh Kinney to Memphis, where Barton struggled in limited playing time.

Plucked from the Cleveland Indians in the December 2007 Rule 5 draft, the righthanded-hitting Barton last season hit .268 with two home runs and 13 RBIs. He also spent time on the disabled list with a wrist fracture and a strained side. The Braves assigned him to their Class AAA Gwinnett affiliate.

Barton, who turns 25 Saturday, entered spring training with little chance of returning to St . Louis .

The Cardinals underscored Barton's diminished standing by optioning him while outfield prospect Jon Jay remained in camp. Barton was hitting only .107 with one RBI at Memphis this season.

Barton "had a pretty good year for us last year, but the reality is our outfield is stacked up right now," Mozeliak said. "It's going to be tough for him to get major-league at-bats. In fairness to him, this is a better opportunity."

Referring to the bullpen's recent innings load, Mozeliak insisted "this was not (done) because of what happened over the last few days." However, manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan had pushed for help after Saturday's 11-inning loss to the Cubs, which included 5 2/3 relief innings.

The Cardinals carry a 4.98 bullpen ERA built on a league-high 43 1/3 innings. The Braves entered Monday last in the NL with a 7.36 bullpen ERA.

The Cardinals chose not to promote from within Sunday because of logistical problems and the possibility of poor weather, Mozeliak said then.

Mozeliak also had opened talks with Braves GM Frank Wren upon learning of Boyer's availability.

With Kinney and Thompson parked in Memphis, the Cardinals appear hopeful of using the rest of the month to determine their best five righthanded relief arms. "We're going to use all this week to sort through the bullpen and see what happens before we make another move," Mozeliak said.

Boyer was most effective in his 2005 rookie season, when he was 4-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 43 appearances, but has not rediscovered that form since shoulder surgery in 2006. Barton was an apparent victim of overuse last season, and it took only three appearances totaling 1 1/3 innings this month for Boyer to fall out of favor with a team also beset by bullpen concerns.

Boyer collapsed after working 52 2/3 innings in 51 appearances before the All-Star break. In 25 appearances afterward, Boyer suffered an 11.17 ERA and more than 1.7 baserunners an inning despite striking out 22 in 19 1/3 innings.

Only four of his last 24 appearances with the Braves occurred in wins. Boyer was 0-1 with a 40.50 ERA in three games and absorbed the loss in a 12-11 meltdown defeat April 8 against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves blew a 10-3 seventh-inning lead with Boyer issuing consecutive bases-loaded walks during an eight-run rally.

Mozeliak cited Boyer's durability, arm strength, his plus curveball and a thumbs-up from front office numbers crunchers as elements working in his favor.

Though the Cardinals plan to keep 13 pitchers only temporarily, Mozeliak insisted Monday's move is more than a quick fix. "I don't look at it as a Band-Aid at all," Mozeliak said. "We're looking to add depth in an area that needed it. Given some of the things we've had to face early this season. We see it as a positive. We want to put our best 12 out there."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 21, 2009

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