Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Around the Horn, Part Two: Pitching - Aces Wild

We last left this series after getting familiar with our infield.

Today, we'll talk about our pitching. Again, La Russa should have a deep bullpen for when Isringhausen goes down with an injury...again. The big question mark for the Cardinals will be their starting rotation. Other than Mr. Amazing Chris Carpenter and the hopeful, eventual return of Mark Mulder, there will be some new faces on the mound (say goodbye to Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan, and Jeff Weaver). Of the three, Suppan's loss is the biggest. Marquis showed flashes of bumness far too often, and while I liked Jeff Weaver, we can find another one of him. So meh, on to 2007.

Fans will be happy to see Adam Wainwright getting the nod to join the rotation. Many had been wanting to see him take Marquis' place there last year, but I think we'll all agree that he worked out pretty well. Also joining him will be Anthony Reyes, who dabbled in starting last year but had some great starts during the postseason, so expect to see him in the rotation. Braden Looper, who I've blown hot and cold on since his acquisition last season, may get the nod, along with new pickup Kip Wells. Injured for most of last year (managed only nine starts), he's an established starter who can put in some quality starts if healthy. But enough talk, let's check these boys out:

SP - Chris Carpenter - Cy Young winner in 2005. Undisputed ace of the Cardinals. 51 wins, 3.12 ERA, and 549 K in three seasons with St. Louis. 'Nuff said.
SP - Mark Mulder - Honestly, I don't know what's going on with Mulder's recovery, but as long as he's in a Cardinal jersey, he's a potential starter in my book. Great sinker, curve, and decent fastball. One of the greatest pitching performances I ever saw was delivered by Mulder against Roger Clemens and the Astros. He pitched a 10-inning, 1-hit shutout to win 1-0. Very cool. But last year, Mulder probably returned to action too early from shoulder surgery and looked bad. So if he can recapture some of his prior magic, look for him to have a premanent place in the lineup. But right now, it's too early to tell.
SP - Adam Wainwright - To be a rookie and record the closing outs for the NLDS, NLCS, and the World Series? Wow, that's pretty cool. But for those who watched him throughout the season, that's not entirely surprising. This guy has some electric stuff. After a season holding it down in the bullpen, he's more than earned a chance for a spot in the rotation. Look for nothing but good things to come from this rising star.
SP - Anthony Reyes - Flat brim, high socks. Old school. Reyes filled in throughout the year for missing starters, and went back to the minors when he was told, too. After a solid postseason, Dave Duncan wants to keep this kid around. Sure, he's not the flashiest player, but he's a quality pitcher who will continue to improve the more he has a chance to play in a winning system like St. Louis.
SP - Kip Wells - Like I mentioned above, Wells had only nine starts last year with Pittsburgh and Texas. But if he stays healthy, he's a guy who can be your four or five spot in the rotation. Don't expect the greatest numbers, but he is someone who can throw the ball for seven innings, which is always good.
SP - Braden Looper - Of all the pitchers here, he's most likely to be the Cards go-to guy in the bullpen for long relief. I'm not sold on Looper as a starter, but as a fresh arm when games go awry, or to setup for the closer, I think he'd fit in well. But he'll compete for the rotation. If he works out, more power to him, but I'm not sold on Looper starting. Of course, there are other relievers battling for his spot, like Brad Thompson and Ryan Franklin, but he's probably the frontrunner of them right now. We'll see how things shape up.
Closer - Jason Isringhausen - Last year we saw a very fallible Jason Isringhausen, walking far too many batters, loading the bases, blowing saves, etc. This was not the closer Cards fans were accustomed to seeing. Lucky for us he got hurt and was replaced by Wainwright, who filled in wonderfully. I expect the Cards to give Isringhausen this season to get his act together. I hope he does, otherwise we'll be looking at a new closer come 2008.

Yes, I know I'm missing all the relief pitchers, but La Russa still has many moves to make until the season begins. The Cardinals have had a deep bullpen in years past, and each year brings new faces, so let's just get familiar with these guys later, yes? We'll tackle the outfield and bench players in our next edition of AtH. Vaya con dios, fellow Redbird fans.


Katy said...

I'm getting so excited about baseball! BASEBALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3kalb said...

I wish I watched more baseball & tennis. However, with my busy schedule of slacking about and drinking obscenely there just isn't time. Keep on showcasing the balls though.

P.S. I'm set in stone for ATL, yo. I'm arriving the 11th and leaving the 16th. Are you still gonna make it? Would love to rock alongside you @ TVotR.

comrade said...

See, you're not going to keep me entertained with Cardinals shit, Klein. Post something about jetpacks or flamethrowers, preferably occuring in deep space or Sweden, and then we'll talk. :)

Grego said...

Wow, sorry for the lack of...well, everything. It's been hectic and this is the first time I've been on in a loooong time. Here goes:

Katy - BASEBALL!! cantwaitcantwaitcantwaitcantwait! Go Cardinals!!!

Ekalb - I'll prolly be heading out the 12th and leaving the 15th, although I have yet to make definite plans. Alls I knowz is I'm fenna rock it sumpin fierce nasty with you and the TVs on all the Radios around the ATL area.

Pat - You're jealous...that's okay. But I'll see what I can do about that post. I'd love to see that, too. Keep your eye out for it, but I've been obscenely biz-ay lately. Many apologies.