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Why the St. Louis Cardinals Made a Mistake by Letting Go of Eduardo Sanchez

Talented Reliever Claimed by Chicago Cubs Off Waivers

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COMMENTARY | When the news broke that Jaime Garcia would be placed on the 15-day disabled list with the same shoulder injury he suffered from during 2012, everyone speculated and wondered how St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak would replace the left-hander. With Jake Westbrook also on the shelf with scar tissue in his right elbow, Mozeliak was left scrambling, although he was not short of options.

Mozeliak chose to call up lefty Tyler Lyons from Triple-A Memphis to take Garcia's spot in the rotation in the short-term, with many believing that eventually that spot will be manned by Chris Carpenter, who is trying to make a miraculous comeback for the second consecutive year.

In order to make room for Lyons on the 40-man roster, the Cardinals put 24-year old right-handed reliever Eduardo Sanchez on waivers, who was promptly claimed by the Chicago Cubs.

The fact that Sanchez was claimed so quickly is not a surprise, but the fact that he was placed on waivers should be.

In fact, the Cardinals have made a big mistake by letting Sanchez go so easily, considering there were plenty of other moves the organization could have made to keep him protected.

Since getting a cup of coffee and excelling in the closer's role for the Cardinals in 2011, when he converted five saves and posted a 1.80 ERA in 26 appearances, Sanchez has struggled with his command and with his health and has never really been able to put it all together again.

But, he does throw in the mid-90s and does have a devastating slider, a pitch that nobody at any level has been able to figure out. Sanchez still has the stuff of a major-league closer. The type of stuff that just does not grow on trees.

Mozeliak could have done any number of things instead of risking losing Sanchez.

He could have put 32-year-old Victor Marte on waivers, who likely will never play a role for the Cardinals again after posting a 4.91 ERA and 1.612 WHIP in 48 appearances with the club in 2012.

Mozeliak could have placed Mikael Cleto on waivers, too. Cleto, who throws incredibly hard, also has incredibly bad numbers. Cleto has a career 8.78 ERA in 12 games with the Cardinals and has been just as bad this season at Memphis, posting a 7.90 ERA and a nearly unheard of 1.939 WHIP this year at Triple-A. Cleto has walked 30 hitters in 27 innings down at Memphis this year, yet it was Sanchez whom was sacrificed and not the big guy whom was acquired in the trade that shipped Brendan Ryan to Seattle.

Finally, Mozeliak could have filled Garcia's vacant rotation spot with one of the three relievers in the Cardinals' bullpen who have starter pedigrees. Seth Maness, Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez all have started during their careers in the minors, with Maness being the candidate likely most ready to log big innings as a starter right away.

Instead, Mozeliak chose to promote Lyons and risk losing Sanchez, who had appeared in just nine games for Triple-A Memphis this season and had a 3.72 ERA and just seven strikeouts to go along with four walks in 9.2 innings pitched with the Redbirds.

Sanchez clearly still has the type of upside that most teams covet and maybe, with so many young electric arms in the organization, it feels like Mozeliak and the Cardinals have become spoiled and just could not stay patient with the righty any longer.

It is obvious that Mozeliak does not see Sanchez in the Cardinals' plans moving forward, but just how does he see guys like Cleto and Marte fitting in with the organization in the future? Why weren't either Cleto or Marte one of the sacrificial lambs?

Losing a guy like Sanchez, who has had so many injury issues, may turn out not to be a big deal. He may never figure it out.

But giving up on a guy that has so much upside and potential, which had been displayed at the major-league lever before, feels like a big mistake that could come back and haunt the Cardinals at some point in the not-so-distant future.

Giving up a guy with such a high ceiling always hurts and in this instance, the Cardinals got nothing in return.

Corey Rudd is the owner/editor of StlSportsMinute.com and hosts The Cruddy Show, a live podcast that broadcasts on Tuesday and Friday evenings at 930 pm CT on BlogTalkRadio.com.

You can follow Rudd on Twitter @CoreyRudd.

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