Over the weekend the Cardinals, who've been relatively active among the "big-name" minor league free agents this year—they signed walk-rate hero Ruben Gotay in the offseason, and promptly buried him behind Aaron Miles, of all people—picked up Renyel Pinto, former Cubs farmhand and Marlins reliever, who had been designated for assignment on June 16. He'll report to Triple-A Memphis upon passing a physical.â†µ
Pinto's a weird player. He's left-handed, but he's not a LOOGY; he's enormous, listed at six-four and 280 pounds; and he's got a reverse platoon split that's persisted over 231 innings, which is considerably more than is usually needed to convince Tony La Russa to play the matchups. He's also in a weird spot. The Cardinals have two veteran left-handers under contract for the rest of the year, and while Dennys Reyes has struggled since April, La Russa gave Randy Flores about two years of this before he pulled the trigger.
So here's my conspiracy theory: Renyel Pinto is here to start. He's replacing former Cub Rich Hill, who had been moved to the Memphis bullpen only because he couldn't go four innings without walking nine batters. He might begin his Pacific Coast League stint in the bullpen, with Tyler Norrick still working out his control problems in High-A Palm Beach, but I can't see La Russa employing a left-handed long reliever for long periods of time, something he hasn't done since Jeff Fassero was swingman for the 2003 Cardinals.â†µ
Pinto looks like a starter, and as was proved with Braden Looper, that appears to be all the motivation Dave Duncan needs.