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Marc Rzepcynski: The man known as Scrabble

Marc Rzepcynski: The man known as Scrabble
July 31, 2013
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To Cleveland sports writers, Marc Rzepczynski might be the worst addition ever.

It has nothing to do with his skills, it's all about that name. It is also thanks to that last name that he was given the nickname Scrabble, which is what I will refer to him for the rest of this article.

The Cardinals first acquired him to help out a beleaguered pen in theColby Rasmus deal in 2011. He performed beautifully for the Cardinals and was a big part of their post season success that year. He was their top lefty out of the pen, and the second biggest piece acquired outside of Edwin Jackson.

The reason he was traded on Tuesday is the fact that each year since has been worse than the year before.  This year he became very hittable, and thanks to Kevin Siegrist's improvement and Randy Choate staying ageless he became the third lefty in the pen and was optioned down to AAA this year.

On Sunday I was actually looking for a lefty reliever that could be had from the Cardinals when word broke they were trying to trade pen arms. I looked at Scrabble and passed. I was hoping for Siegrist or Choate; if not them then maybe AAA Tyler Lyons who I like as a future lefty pen guy.

The reason for my concern with Scrabble was this year's stats: 7.84 ERA, 1.935 WHIP, 13.0 H/9. It should be noted those numbers were only over 11 games, but it was still a concern small sample size or not. He has always had some command issues, but now he was very hittable as well.

The question is was this is a case of small sample size and just getting stuck behind other talent? He performed very well in AAA, but as we have seen this often means little when it comes to a player with this much major league experience.

The reason for excitement is this is not a rental and over his career Scrabble has been death on lefties. His career stats against lefties are a .224 BAA, .607 OPS, 67 OPS+, and 3.13 K/BB. This is over 365 plate appearances and 155 games. The stats versus the righties are not so good, though not terrible, but he should be used as a LOOGY.

As for the player the Indians gave up, I am not very familiar with Juan Herrera. He is a 20-year old shortstop playing for Mahoning Valley this year and was holding his own with a line of .275/.366/.369. There is some projection there but in a system that is so deep up the middle, you do have to like the fact the Indians dealt from a strength.

This is definitely a wait and see trade for me. Scrabble has a good history and if he bounces back makes this team better this year and next. If he fails, well, it didn't cost much. In a world where some teams are asking for a starting pitcher for a lefty pen arm, or where you have to take on some salary, this deal makes sense. It might not be perfect but to me it is worth the small risk.

At the end of the day I don't think this was the shortstop everyone was expecting the Indians to deal to the Cardinals (i.e. Asdrubal Cabrera).

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at

User Comments

Uncle Rick
August 1, 2013 - 9:33 AM EDT
Kudos to Rzepczynski for having a last name longer than the writers complete name.
August 1, 2013 - 1:14 AM EDT
If Gonzalez could be had for Scott Barnes or a player of similar pedigree then Gonzalez wouldn't still be with the Brewers.
Rich Smith
July 31, 2013 - 4:26 PM EDT
Maybe the talks with the Cardinals can lead to something more this off-season. I have nothing against this trade. I am disappointed it was the only trade. I still believe they could have added someone like Mike Gonzales from the Brewers for a Scott Barnes type prospect, not a Bauer/Lindor/Salazar level prospect. Maybe in August.
July 31, 2013 - 4:17 PM EDT
Fangraphs noted Rzepczynski's use of his Slider has dropped to about 30% of the time. During 2011 his most successful stint in the bigs he was sitting around 50% useage with his Slider. Rzepczynski's FB sitting around 90-92 simply isn't enough to get LH hitters out. It seems like he needs to incorporate the Slider once again to regain his previous success with the Cardinals.

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