Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wainwright? WainWRONG!

The St. Louis Cardinals were dealt a huge blow today when it was announced that pitcher Adam Wainwright, their 20 game winner from last season, will miss all of 2011 with Tommy John surgery on his elbow. Over the past two season, Wainwright had 39 wins finishing second in the Cy Young voting last year and 3rd the year before. His ERAs the past two years were 2.63 in 2009 and 2.42 in 2010 and only 3 pitchers struck out more hitters than Wainwright's 425 during that span. You may have heard of them: Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay. Short of losing Albert Pujols, this is the worst thing that could happen to St. Louis prior to the season starting.

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So how does St. Louis respond? They still have an ace in Chris Carpenter, but he's 35 this year. Can he repeat his 35 start 235 inning performance from 2010? Don't forget, this is a guy who pitched in just 5 games total between 2007 and 2008. The other rotation spots are slotted for Kyle Lohse (4-8 6.55 ERA last year in 18 starts), Jake Westbrook (4-4 3.48 after coming over from Cleveland in a trade), and 24 year old Jaime Garcia who went 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA in his first full season (just 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA in September). So it's not exactly daunting behind Carpenter. And there's still the question of who fills Wainwright's spot.

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The early candidates? Kyle McClellan, P.J. Walters, Lance Lynn, Adam Ottavino,Ian Snell, Brian Tallet and Brandon Dickson. Not exactly your A-list guys. McClellan (2.27 ERA, 19 holds) and Tallet (6.40 ERA in Toronto last year) were slated to be bullpen guys but that could change. Snell was 0-5 with a 6.41 ERA in Seattle last year in just 12 appearances. And the other four are coming out of AAA Memphis: Lynn (13-10 4.77), Ottavino (5-3 3.97), Dickson (11-8 3.23), Walters (8-5, 3.81). So we'll see. There is still the option that they could try and go and sign a Kevin Millwood or a Pedro Martinez type guy. Either way, if you're a Cardinals fan, you've got to just have a sick feeling in your stomach right now. Keep an eye on this situation over the coming weeks.

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