|Okay, so Swindle doesn't actually look like this in real life. He totally does in my head, though. |
Hey, remember when the Cardinals signed J.C. Romero
, and I complained about it
because he's sort of a lousy pitcher? Sure you do. You probably thought I was nuts for getting all up in arms about the most marginal, barely-noticeable move you could imagine.
Well guess what? The Cardinals actually went out and made an even smaller, more marginal move yesterday, and I'm almost giddy about it. And yeah, I'm aware it's like two days before Christmas and I should probably have better stuff to be worried about than the dude the Cardinals just signed to be their third-ish lefty reliever on the depth chart to start the season.
The man's name is R.J. Swindle, and he's every bit as interesting as J.C. Romero is depressing. In fact, if I were pressed to say, I might tell you Swindle could be the most interesting lefty in the world. (Cue commercial.)
Reason one I think R.J. Swindle is awesome: his name. R.J. Swindle is one of the greatest names in history. R.J. Swindle is the name of one of the law partners in an old Three Stooges
short. Howie Fleecem and R.J. Swindle, Attorneys at Law. The dude who sold Springfield the monorail gave his name as Lyle Lanley
, but that was clearly just an alias. His real name: R.J. Swindle.
Reason two I think R.J. Swindle is awesome: the dude throws an eephus. Well, sort of. He doesn't throw the ball way up in the air like a true eephus, but it's a big, loopy breaker in the mid-50s. That's an eephus to me. (Semi-fun [or maybe not] fact about your author: I once called in to the Brain Sandwich show on KDHX one Saturday morning driving home from somewhere to tell them the name of the big, super-slow lob pitch guys used to throw in the 40s they couldn't think of. Unfortunately I did not win a prize for my baseball nerddom and knowledge of the word eephus.) Swindle himself just calls the pitch a curveball, but I'm pretty sure that's just swindler talk.
Reasons three I think R.J. Swindle is awesome: he just signed a minor-league deal. Unlike J.C. Romero, who required a guaranteed major league contract after a season in which he was released by half the teams in baseball, Swindle comes with a minor league contract and a spring training invite. If he sucks -- and, I should point out, he mostly has in his very brief MLB opportunities in the past and has a pretty fair probability of doing so again -- he can be cut loose with absolutely no real negative impact. Hell, he's being brought in for depth at the Triple A level as much as he is for the big club, so stashing him in the minors is actually Plan A in this case.
Oh, and one other thing: R.J. Swindle has been ridiculously good in the minors pretty consistently over the years. Unfortunately, in his two fairly limited chances in the majors he's sucked out loud. Still, it's a small enough sample size making assumptions about his Quad A-ness is premature.
I'm going to level with you: R.J. Swindle has a pretty significant chance of being terrible. But he's also the kind of freely-available, zero-risk terrible that makes sense when you're taking a chance. Plus, as I believe I pointed out before, the dude throws an eephus.
Some video of said eephus. I have to thank Dan Moore
at Viva El Birdos
for doing the legwork on this clip. It's also pretty great to hear the voice of Harry Kalas