The Cardinals counted on right-handed flamethrower Ryan Helsley to provide an unflappable, even-keeled presence on the mound late in tight ballgames.
Well, the Major League Baseball arbitration process certainly left the Cardinals’ All-Star closer with ruffled feathers about a process that he wished were different.
The Cardinals won their arbitration hearing against Helsley, which means he’ll make a salary of $2.15 million this coming season instead of the $3 million he’d sought.
Last season, Helsley finished the season with a team-high 19 saves in 23 chances to go with a 1.25 ERA, a team-best 13.08 strikeouts per nine innings and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.7-to-1.
“You definitely understand that it is a business, and I respect that part of it,” Helsley said. “Yeah, it was definitely tough to hear some stuff, for sure. You think you do some things good, but they still find ways to tell you that you’re not good. It’s definitely (difficult) to go in there and swallow and take that on the chin, if you will.”
Specifically, Helsley said the Cardinals made the case that he showed a lack of durability.
He made 54 appearances and didn’t often pitch on back-to-back days in 2022. Helsley and his representatives countered with him having thrown a large volume of multiple-inning outings, including 18 total outings (four saves) of at least four outs last season.
Despite the contentious back-and-forth, Helsley said he came away with no bad blood between him and the organization. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and general manager Michael Girsch are typically not present in the room during arbitration hearings.
Helsley said he hopes to use the experience as motivation.
“There are definitely things that they point out to you that, you know, maybe you can use to your advantage to help you in years to come if you do go back in there,” Helsley said. “There are no hard feelings for me.”
While clearly miffed about losing his case, Helsley provided a bit of perspective while talking to reporters outside of the team’s clubhouse at their spring training facility.
“If the worst thing that happens to me is make $2 million and not $3 million, I’ll be alright,” Helsley said. “Trying to be thankful for the opportunities I have and cherish the moments I have in the game while I have it.”
Helsley’s fellow reliever Genesis Cabrera was scheduled to have his hearing with the Cardinals on Friday afternoon in the Tampa Bay area.
John Mozeliak on Tim McCarver
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, who enters his 28th season working for the club, was one of many members of the organization saddened by the news of former broadcaster, Cardinals Hall of Famer, former All-Star catcher and two-time World Series champion Tim McCarver death Thursday.
“My first thought was it’s just sad because over the last seven, eight years, we’ve lost a lot of important people to this organization or people that had worn the red jacket or meant so much from either a playing standpoint or a broadcasting standpoint,” Mozeliak said during the team’s workout Friday.
McCarver is in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster.
“Timmy was one of those guys that was always welcoming,” Mozeliak said. “Sometimes you hear that word and it’s like what does that really mean. But he always made you feel special, and he wasn’t talking to you just to talk to you. I met him well before I was ever a general manager. He was just as kind to me then as later in life. That’s how he treated people. I think he just always put a smile on people’s face. His stories — what he could recall and how he could always blend the past with the present — was truly artful.”
Of his numerous interactions with McCarver, Mozeliak fondly remembered those surrounding the club’s purchase of the minor-league franchise in McCarver’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Mozeliak described McCarver as “instrumental” in that process.
“It really just showed you that he really never left, but yet he did,” Mozeliak said. “He moved on to other places, but in his heart of hearts, Memphis was still a special place to him. I think that relationship with the St. Louis Cardinals in Memphis, one of the key ties or strings that kept that so strong was him.”
Scott Rolen will be inducted with STL hat
Scott Rolen, the latest Cardinal set to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, will wear the interlocking STL logo on his plaque, he and Cooperstown announced Friday afternoon. Rolen spent more games and time in Philadelphia, but after a trade to the Cardinals had his career season in 2004, four consecutive All-Star appearances, and the 2006 World Series title.
“After reflecting on my 17-year career, and conferring with the Hall of Fame, I have decided on a Cardinals logo for my Hall of Fame plaque,” Rolen said in a release from the Hall. “I believe this decision accurately represents a pivotal portion of my career based on our teams’ successes in St. Louis. I am grateful to Philadelphia, St. Louis, Toronto and Cincinnati for the opportunities given to me as a player, but more importantly, for how they embraced me and my family. I am truly honored that my plaque will hang among the legends in Cooperstown.”
Rolen was elected Jan. 24 by eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and he was the only player on the writers’ ballot to receive more than the 75% needed for induction.
He will join Fred McGriff in the Class of 2023 after McGriff’s unanimous selection by one of the Hall’s era committees.
McGriff will not have a logo on his hat, the Hall announced.
Rolen will be the 11th player or manager to have the interlocking STL on his plaque. He will be inducted July 23.
Staff writer Derrick Goold contributed to this report.
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