On Monday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals announced a trade-deadline deal in which they have obtained right-handed pitcher Jorge Sosa from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor league pitcher Rich Scalamandre.
Sosa, 28, was designated for assignment last Sunday by the Braves after he posted a 3-10 record and 5.46 ERA in 26 games (of which 13 were starts) this season. He had to be either traded or be given his outright release within ten days of the move.
Not surprisingly, Cardinals assistant general manager John Mozeliak is pleased with the move. "We are excited to add his arm to our club and with this addition we now feel we have added enough depth to be successful in our pen," Mo told me on Tuesday.
During his season and a half with the Braves, Sosa bounced between starting and relieving, including a short, unsuccessful stint as the Braves’ closer. Sosa managed to convert only three of his six save opportunities and posted a 5.19 ERA in his 13 relief appearances. He struck out 58, but walked 32 opposing hitters in 87-1/3 innings this season.
One can only hope that Sosa stays far away from Jason Marquis, the National League leader in home runs allowed so far this season, as he is afflicted with the same problem. In fact, Sosa has given them up at a much greater rate than Marquis, with 20 enemy long balls deposited in the seats over those 87-1/3 innings-pitched in 2006.
Sosa allowed six baserunners and two runs in three innings against the Cardinals in a 15-3 Braves blowout on July 17. But, he had shut out the Cardinals in his eight previous innings-pitched against them for an overall ERA of just 1.64 vs. St. Louis. Unfortunately, Sosa will now be pitching for the Cardinals, not against them.
Yet, there is hope if Sosa can recapture his 2005 magic. The right-hander had an outstanding campaign with Atlanta last season, going 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 44 games with his .813 winning percentage best in the National League. In his 20 starts in 2005, Sosa was 10-3 with a 2.62 ERA, yet he could not hold down a permanent spot in the Braves’ rotation.
Sosa has one game of playoff experience, having started Game Three of the 2005 National League Division Series against the Houston Astros last October 7. He allowed three runs in six innings at Minute Maid, but was outpitched by Roy Oswalt and took the loss.
In his four-plus years in the majors, Sosa has posted a 27-39 record with a 4.58 ERA and is 20-33 in his 74 starts. The Dominican Republic native pitched for his nation in the World Baseball Classic this spring. He spent the first three seasons of his career, 2002 through 2004, with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays prior to joining the Braves.
While hardly an impact deal, Sosa gives the Cardinals another arm and an option down the road.
One has to assume that Sosa will initially be used out of the bullpen for the Cardinals, allowing pitching coach Dave Duncan time to help him work out of his recent problems. Whether Sosa could join the Cardinals rotation in the future is clearly speculation at this time.
On the financial side, Sosa had been working on a one-year, $2.2 million deal with the Braves. Despite the Braves having dumped Sosa, I have confirmed that the Cardinals will assume all of his remaining financial obligation for 2006.
Sosa came into this season with just under four years of major league service time, so will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2008 season, though he is arbitration-eligible.
Sosa is expected to join the Cardinals on Tuesday when the team begins a six-game home stand against Philadelphia, then Milwaukee. A corresponding roster move will be announced at that time, team representatives said Monday.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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