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Cardinals future dims without Adam Wainwright

Feb 23, 2011, 12:30 PM EDT

Adam Wainwright

If the worse-case scenario comes to pass, the Cardinals are about to lose the right-hander who finished third in the NL Cy Young balloting in 2009 and second last year for the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery. Adam Wainwright has won 39 games the last two years. In 2010, he went 20-11 for a team that went 86-76 as a whole.

So what would the Cardinals do without Wainwright?

The obvious answer is to sign Kevin Millwood. Sure, Millwood is coming off a season in which he went 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA. However, that was in the AL East and Camden Yards. Of the 30 homers he gave up in 190 2/3 innings, 20 came in the Orioles’ home park. He’d fare a lot better in that regard in Busch Stadium. Plus, he’d be working with Dave Duncan, who always seems to get more out of old arms than anyone would expect. And going by Millwood’s solid 132/65 K/BB ratio last season, the 36-year-old still has some bullets left.

Possible internal replacements include Kyle McClellan, Brian Tallet, Ian Snell and prospect Lance Lynn. Ideally, though, the Cards would keep McClellan and Tallet in the bullpen and let Lynn, who went 13-10 with a 4.77 ERA for Memphis last year, head back to Triple-A for a couple of months.

Regardless of who takes steps in, there’s really no replacing Wainwright. Chris Carpenter may still qualify as an ace, but both he and Jaime Garcia are injury risks. A rotation led by those two and sinkerballer Jake Westbrook should be a clear step down from the 2010 group.

Which is a problem. The Cards had the NL’s best or second best position player last year, the league’s second best pitcher and they got fine seasons from their two other stars in Matt Holliday and Carpenter, yet they finished a mere 10 games over .500 while playing in baseball’s weakest division.  Their offseason additions don’t add up to much, at least not after factoring in what they lost defensively, so without Wainwright, this may be nothing more than a .500 club in 2011.

And that’s certainly is not going to make keeping Albert Pujols any easier.

  1. xmatt0926x - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    I’m not a Cardinals fan but I feel bad for Cardinals nation. Your spending all misearble winter waiting for spring and the start of the season and your main guy goes down, seriously damaging the hopes you had up to this point. I wouldn’t wish that on any team or it’s fans. (ok, maybe the Mets). I’ll say this. If Dave Duncan can save the season with a bloated stiff like Milwwod then he is the pitching coach God that everyone in St. Louis claims he is.

  2. Matthew Flint - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    Blanton’s stock keeps rising!

    • paperlions - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      No, it doesn’t. No one will give anything of value for an over-paid 5th starter. Philly would have to kick in money just to give him away. That was true yesterday, and it is still true today.

      • heyblueyoustink - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:57 PM

        he’d be a solid 3 starter on most squads

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:23 PM

        I think Blanton is better than anyone’s 5th starter. Maybe not the Dodgers. He’s a solid pitcher who will draw interest for sure. And if Philly would give him away without kicking money in he’d be gone by now. He’s tradeable IMO. A trade would have to involve money more than likely, depending on for whom. If someone needs to dump a large salary, there might be no money involved even. If I were Philly and wasn’t interested in landing a right handed OF I’d keep him.

      • paperlions - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:37 PM

        Out of 45 qualifying starters in the NL last year Blanton ranked 42nd in ERA, 38th in FIP, and 37th in WAR. He is barely better than guys most teams have sitting in AAA. He is durable, which is nice, but his salary makes him untradeable.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:05 PM

        His XFip is 23rd best in the NL out of the 45 you mentioned, that is also leaving out around 30 other starters who don’t make the list. And that was while battling an injury last season mind you. He isn’t as bad as you’d like to think he is.

        That’s better than Lilly, Sanchez, Hanson, Cain, Garland, and Pelfry. And he’ll be better this season imo. xFip should be a better scale to use….

      • mercyflush - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:22 PM

        Last year was a bad one for Blanton, but only someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about would rip him as an ineffectual pitcher. before last season he had 5 straight 190+innings pitched, which his great for a 3-4-5 guy in the rotation. And even last season, it was really a bad first half. Post allstar break he had a 3.48 ERA.

      • paperlions - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:31 PM

        Blanton’s best xFIP ever is 4.05, his FIP last year was his best since 2007. Last year wasn’t a bad year for Blanton, it was an average one and perhaps even a slightly above average one for him. The Cardinals could throw Boggs (who was a starter until last year) out there and get a Blanton-like performance for the league minimum.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:22 PM

        I mentioned Boggs for the Cards in the earlier thread about Wainwright. That’s who I feel will be used. I wasn’t implying the Cards would make a move for Blanton. I just think he’s better than you give him credit for, that’s all. Leave MOOSE alone!!!!! 😉

      • xmatt0926x - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:36 PM

        Paperlions, Im not a huge Blanton guy myself but I do think this is a case where you dont get a true sense of a player if you dont see him all through the year. You are correct to state the stats and it would appear that he doesn’t have much to offer based on cold numbers, but he is an odd case. He’s a guy who’s bad starts are really bad but in between he has runs of 10-15 games where he is extremely resepctable to good. If you threw away the final #’s and looked at him start through start for the last few years you’ll see what I mean. He’s not a guy that will toss a 8 inning shutout by any means but he has a lot of “solid” games with 6 or 7 innings 2 or 3 runs given up. Then he goes out and for three games in a row blows up and his stats look brutal. He’s not great but he isn’t the stiff his final #’s make him out to be. Over the long haul he gives you many more good starts than bad, especially for a back end guy.

    • heyblueyoustink - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:51 PM

      Wonder if they’d consider a Puljos for Blanton and Howard deal at this point…..seems to reason for oh so many reasons all sides would be happy with that one…..

      • paperlions - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:39 PM

        Except that if the Cardinals were going to overpay a guy, they would overpay the vastly superior player. Hint: that ain’t Howard.

      • mercyflush - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:17 PM

        pujols isnt waiving his no trade clause. he’s already said that.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:28 PM

        He will waive it to play behind the greatest rotation in the history of baseball :)

        (I love tweaking planet HBT with that line)

  3. phukyouk - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    theres always Albert Pujl…. oh wait…

  4. megary - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    Given 190+IP, is 132/65 K/BB really solid? Maybe for an aging vet and maybe that’s the point, but I would think *solid* would be a few more K’s and a few less freebies.

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:31 PM

      Just for reference Megary, Joe Blanton who’s considered “worthless” by some has a 134/43 k/bb from last season, and he was injured for a good chunk of the season.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:33 PM

      I think 6 K/9 IP and 2/1 K/BB qualifies as pretty solid. Of course, Millwood is right at those thresholds. But to do it in the AL East is still fairly impressive.

      OK, couldn’t help but look it up. 25 AL pitchers last year had at least 6 K/9 IP and a 2/1 K/BB while qualifying for the ERA title. Millwood and James Shields were the ugly ducklings of the class. Everyone else at least bested a 4.50 ERA.

      • megary - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:54 PM

        Funny that I was going to use Shields as an example as what I would consider *solid*. Of course I’m just semanticizing. I would grant that Millwood’s numbers are at least something to work with.

    • Chris K - Feb 23, 2011 at 5:22 PM

      I was thinking that myself but didn’t have the guts to be the first one to say it. A K:BB of 2 isn’t really ‘solid’ in my opinion. I’d be looking for a 3 or at least over 2.75.

  5. BC - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Maybe if the White Sox tank, they can go grab Mark Buherle or if they want to go on the cheap, Gavin Floyd.

    • uyf1950 - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:43 PM

      BC – I think it’s more likely the White Sox win the Central and the Twins look to unload Liriano. It’s already been noted on several sites that the Twins are not or may not be interested in signing Liriano long term.

  6. uyf1950 - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Question – If Millwood is a viable/serious option for the Cardinals (assuming Wainwrights injury is severe) does Millwood dig his heels in on a contract? Originally he was looking for $4 to $5MM for signing. Does that amount increase, or stay the same because he understands the precarious position the Cardinals are in?

    • spudchukar - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:12 PM

      The Buehrle option isn’t all that nuts. He is from St. Louis, and has repeatedly opined that he would like to play there.

      Millwood may do as you indicate, but his main beef with the Yanks offer was that it did not guarantee him a spot, which the Cards would probably be willing to do.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:29 PM

        The only problem I think with the theory about Buehrle. Other then liking to play there if indeed is the case why would he want out of Chicgo. The White Sox stand a real chance of winning the AL Central. To be fair the Cardinals chances of winning the NL Central or even a Wild Card spot diminish with each passing day (assuming Wainwrights injury is serious)…and if they lose Pujols after this season and with Carpenters age becoming an issue their immediate future the next couple of years don’t appear to be that bright.

      • spudchukar - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:40 PM

        I do not want to leave the impression that I believe a Buerhle deal is in any way probable. Just providing some info/input into the comment that raised the issue.

    • yankeesfanlen - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:18 PM

      Anything that will keep Millwood furthest from saigning with the Universe is all right with me, podner.

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    What’s the point? If Wainwright couldn’t win the Cardinals the NL Pennant the last two years, what’s the point of the Cardinals doing anything but planning for the future when the Phillies starters start to decline and they have a chance again? Without Wainwright, they have zero shot of making the World Series. With him and Carpenter, they can win any series in the playoffs, but with only Carpenter, they have zero shot.

    Unless you are living in a fantasy land, you have to realize that the Cardinals are going to lose Pujols, so why would they bother with a scrub like Millwood for one season? Bring up a minor leaguer or two and build for the future.

    • spudchukar - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:14 PM

      The Cardinals do not think like you do and I for one am glad.

    • paperlions - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:35 PM

      Must be the same fantasy land in which a Blanton, Howard, and Brown for Rasmus and Pujols deal makes sense for both teams.

      • mercyflush - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:12 PM

        i know… why would the Phillies give up Brown?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:29 PM

        LOL mercyflush. I think the same thing…they won’t give up Brown in a deal for Pujols. I would, but Ruben is in love with the guy.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      Actually, many, many people are still thinking they will resign Pujols. And it’s not like the Phillies are the team keeping the Cards from the pennant. Anyone can win or lose in a short series, it’s just about winning the generally weak NL Central, and IF the Cards resign Pujols, they will have plenty of talent moving forward to contend.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:26 PM

        It’s been a while, so I figure I’ll roll it out here now. For the first time in 2011…


        He was disrespected. The Cardinals had all winter long to negotiate with him, and they waited until the last week, and low-balled him. He is done with them. The only reason he threw out that lame statement is so his ass would not get booed off the field every night. He’s done. Once the World Series ends, why wouldn’t he wait to see what offers he can get? Puh-leeze. He will probably be in an Angels uniform next year. That owner is dying to spend cash, and who better than the best(non-juiced) player of our generation?

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:32 PM

        How the heck does that team not win the Central more often??? They are the most underachieving team I can think of right now. A bunch of “poopy pants” you could say. Ari, they’ve had Pujols, Holliday, Wainwright, Carpenter and what? They can’t even win the division?

      • paperlions - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:43 PM

        Pujols/Agent: We would like you to bid against yourselves like the Rangers and Yankees regularly do.

        Cardinals FO: No.

        Pujols/Agen: Please?

        Cardinals FO: No.

        The Cardinals didn’t disrespect anyone, they simply refused to bid against themselves to drive up the price on a player that was asking for the absolute maximum he could hope to get on the open market. That doesn’t mean the Cardinals aren’t willing to meet his asking price if other teams push the price up that high; it simply means that they won’t meet that price when they have no idea if any other team would even approach it.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 23, 2011 at 4:08 PM

        Well, paper, that’s a backwards way of looking at it. I’ll look at it like this…

        Pujols/Agent: You have had the greatest player of this generation at a relative pittance since 2004. It is time to pay up.

        Cardinals: Nah, we’ll wait to see what the market gives you, then pretty please come back to us.

        Pujols/Agent: F U

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 23, 2011 at 4:16 PM

        J5, if there is a God, the Phils will be THAT team this year that we ask “how the hell did they not win the division?”

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 23, 2011 at 4:24 PM

        Sorry, Pedro. There IS a God, and the Phillies WON’T be losing the NL Least. I’m not saying they will have the best record in baseball again. Nor am I saying they will win the World Series. However, and this isn’t much of a stretch, they are going to win the NL Least. Even if they lost Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, they would still win it by 5 games.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 23, 2011 at 4:38 PM

        Damn this godless world and this ironic sentence.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 24, 2011 at 12:17 AM

        “J5, if there is a God, the Phils will be THAT team this year that we ask “how the hell did they not win the division?””

        Unless he’s a Phillies fan?

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 24, 2011 at 12:34 AM

        Everybody knows God is a Phightins Phan—which is why we take so much guff from everybody.

        Up late, aren’t you Mr. Roboto?

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:27 PM

      “What’s the point? If Wainwright couldn’t win the Cardinals the NL Pennant the last two years, what’s the point of the Cardinals doing anything but planning for the future when the Phillies starters start to decline and they have a chance again?”

      Good thing the Cards’ organization aren’t a bunch of smelly Phillies fans or they’d make decisions like the one you propose. The arrogance of the above quotation is hilarious so thank you, Mr. Fiorentino.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:31 PM

        Hey Cerrano…I am a Philly fan…I’m supposed to be arrogant. Besides, when I post something that DOESN’T piss you off, then I am not doing my job. What’s the over/under on Cerrano’s first Spring Training injury this year? I say March 19th. Pulled Hammy. It’s gonna be a long year, Bravos fans. And Mutts fans. And fans of the Guppies and Gnats. Enjoy April, because by May 1st, the division will be out of reach.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 23, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        I applaud your cocky commentary and withhold response until the first injury and/or lack of production plagues The Terror Squad.

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 23, 2011 at 4:34 PM

        But Phightins Phans smell like fresh baked pie, Heyward.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 23, 2011 at 4:39 PM

        Horse meat and velveeta, my friend.

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 23, 2011 at 5:10 PM

        Mmmm…fresh baked cheesesteak pie….

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 23, 2011 at 5:46 PM

        Now that actually makes me hungry.

  8. uyf1950 - Feb 23, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    I so enjoy reading various posters comments on the Cardinals looking into various trade options that include Pujols now that it appears Wainwright might have a serious arm injury. Pujols has stated on several occasions this winter that he is not going to approve any trade. Even assuming he gives in and is willing to approve a trade why in the world would any team make a trade for him unless they were committed to sign him to the type of long term contract he is looking for, at least $28 to $30M per for at least 8 but more likely 9 or 10 years. A trade of or for Pujols this season isn’t going to happen.

  9. sportsdrenched - Feb 23, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Does anyone have a person in their life, who is such an obnoxious fan of a team that you sometimes snicker when someting bad happens to their team?

    Before I met said person I would kind of pull for the Cards if they had a game on National TV. But now, Now I find myself kind of rooting against them just because of one person.

    This person is flipping out today, and it kind of makes me smile.

    Hate that, but it is what it is.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 23, 2011 at 5:49 PM

      We here at HBT appreciate your honesty. And no one likes obnoxious people in general so hating on things they like is okay. Even better, start rooting for the Cubs.

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 23, 2011 at 6:37 PM

        Even better, start rooting for the Phightins…and smacktalking the Bravos. 😉

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 23, 2011 at 7:15 PM

        That’s not always true, Pedro. I like you and you are obnoxious ;p

    • spudchukar - Feb 23, 2011 at 7:37 PM

      Pray tell who might you castigate?

  10. uyf1950 - Feb 23, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    I was just reading another tidbit of information on another site as it relates to Wainwright and his contract. His 2012 and 2013 team options are NOT guaranteed if he finishes the 2011 season on the disabled list. Which we all can assume is assured if he needs Tommy John surgery. That would mean the Cardinals would have some serious decisions to make at the end of the 2011 season.
    First – What to do about Wainwrights contract years for 2012 and 2013 since they (Cardinals) would no longer be obligated to keep him.
    Second – What to do about Carpenter and his option. He will turn 37 at the start of the 2012 season and be do $15MM if indeed the Cardinals pick up his option.
    Third – What to do about Albert. Give in to his demands or let him walk?
    If Wainwright can’t give 100% until roughly the 2013 it would seem senseless to keep him and exercise the option years. If Pujols walks after this year the chances of the Cardinals having successful seasons in both 2011 and 2012 are near zero. Without Pujols and/or Wainwright for all or part of 2 seasons why pick up the option on Carpenter for 2012? The Cardinals aren’t going to be the contender they used to be with just Carpenter and Holliday as the primary “hay makers”. What to do, what to do?

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