Given the beating the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen has taken in recent weeks a shakeup was inevitable, and it began Wednesday when veteran reliever Miguel Batista, brought in as a free agent in the 2010 offseason, back when Ryan Franklin was still the closer, was released. In surprisingly candid comments following the move general manager John Mozeliak said that at some point the roster makeup had to be about production, in spite of Batista's reputation as a clubhouse presence.
With Franklin and the Cardinal's veteran left-handers, Trever Miller and Brian Tallet, still struggling, more moves are likely on the way for this bullpen. Maikel Cleto, the 22-year-old with a high-90s fastball who has twice now served as a sacrificial presence in the team's strained bullpen, is also likely to return to his rotation spot in AA Springfield in the near future.
The Cardinals have limited options still remaining in AAA Memphis, though it seems likely they'll exhaust them before making a move outside the organization. Raul Valdes, most recently of the New York Mets, has a high strikeout rate for a left-hander and was moved earlier this year back into the Memphis bullpen; Jess Todd, a former Cardinals prospect who returned to the organization this year after being waived by the Yankees, is probably the best right-handed option remaining. Bryan Augenstein, one of the surprises in the Cardinals' rotation earlier in the year, is due to come off the 60-day disabled list shortly; he was unimpressive in April, but the Cardinals will have to either give him Batista's spot on the 40-man roster or risk losing him to another team.