By Derrick Goold
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
NEW YORK — As the Cardinals have turned this season over to the next generation of pitching prospects to groom and use, it became apparent to the organization's last best prospect that his time had probably passed.
Anthony Reyes sought a change. Saturday, he got it.
The Cardinals traded Reyes, once considered the top prospect in the minor-league system, to the Cleveland Indians for Class AA reliever Luis Perdomo and cash. The deal ended several seasons of tease and torment for both the club and Reyes.
"I'm excited," said Reyes, who had been in the rotation at Class AAA Memphis. "When you see everyone else go up (to the majors) except for you, it's a little frustrating. When you get overlooked and you feel you're pitching well, you want to go to a place that's a better fit.
"It's nice to get a fresh start."
Perdomo, 24, is a righthanded reliever who was a High-A Carolina League All-Star this season as a closer and was 2-0 with a 3.52 ERA after a promotion to Class AA. He has been assigned to Class AA Springfield and projects as a setup man.
"Obviously, we were getting to a point where we had to make a decision with Anthony and what his future with us is," general manager John Mozeliak said. "We were looking to add some depth to the minor-league system (in the bullpen) and we wanted to do something that would have some implication for next year."
Reyes, 26, peaked as a Cardinal with his Game 1 victory in the 2006 World Series. He opened the next season by losing 10 consecutive decisions and finished the year 2-14.
Reyes, who will report to Cleveland's Class AAA Buffalo affiliate, was 2-3 with a 3.25 ERA in 11 starts for Memphis. He always had been successful there, but transferring his approach to the majors caused troubles; Reyes was able to excel with a high fastball in the minors that wasn't as effective in the majors.
"I think he needs a change of scenery," outfielder and friend Skip Schumaker said. "I didn't think it was working out real well for him at the end."
Added manager Tony La Russa, "I regret some of the nonsense that has been a distraction — that his style of pitching didn't match. I regret the fact that people mentioned he was not a (pitching coach) Dave Duncan-style of pitcher."
While both the Cardinals and Reyes downplayed the notion of a disconnect between pitcher and coaches, La Russa felt the prominence of the topic became a "distraction" for the pitcher. He even alluded to the undermining of Reyes' confidence when asked why Reyes didn't get one of the recent opportunities to start, which were given to rookies.
"He was already up here and has not been ready," La Russa said. "Why keep punishing him? Why not let him get it right?"
Duncan has long believed that the hype that comes with the prospect rankings created unfair expectations for Reyes, as it does for a lot of young pitchers.
Even traded, Reyes is a cautionary tale for the Cardinals.
The pitchers who leapfrogged Reyes for major-league starts this season are all being billed in similar fashion. Mitchell Boggs, Mike Parisi and Jaime Garcia are highly regarded prospects like Reyes once was.
"When they come in as the organization's savior, a key to the future, it adds ... the pressure of distraction," La Russa said. "It's important ... not oversell them as organizations are prone to do."