Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cards Should Get More Pitching

                           Carp: Out for the season

It's official now, Chris Carpenter will not pitch this year. He had season ending shoulder surgery to try to repair his nerves a couple of days ago. Kenny Rogers and Matt Harrison have made successful comebacks from this type of surgery, so Carpenter could be alright next year. But, he is 37 now, and there are no guarantees. Carpenter has dealt with the nerve issue for several seasons, and tried to rest it this year. Carpenter now wishes he would of had the surgery in March, because he would be on his way back now.

Carpenter has been a dominant pitcher for the Cardinals when healthy. Since 2004, he has the highest winning percentage of any big league pitcher at .693. As a Cardinal, Carpenter is 95-42 with a 3.06 ERA. He won the NL Cy Young in 2005, when he went 21-5. He also finished 2nd in 2006, and 3rd in 2009. He made 3 All Star teams, and was the ace of two championship clubs. Carpenter is 9-2 during postseason play, and won the decisive Game 7 of the World Series last year.

Injuries have plagued Carp throughout his career. He was injured in 2002 with the Blue Jays, and was not re-signed for 2003. The Cardinals signed him with the knowledge that he was hurt, and he missed all of 2003. Carpenter came back the next season, but had to miss the 2004 postseason due to injury. After starting the season opener in 2007, Carpenter didn't pitch again that season. He underwent Tommy John surgery, and didn't come back until mid-2008. He was shut down after 4 appearances that year. The nerve condition has bothered him ever since.

The Cardinals know that Carpenter is out for the year, but they aren't sure about Jaime Garcia yet. He's been out for over a month with a shoulder strain. John Mozeliak recently said he might be back by mid-August. Joe Kelly has pitched decent in his place, but could be moved to the bullpen if another starter is acquired. There is some concern over other starters as well. Adam Wainwright is in his first season post-Tommy John surgery, and he hasn't been as sharp as usual. Lance Lynn has never pitched over 200 innings in a season. Jake Westbrook has been up and down this season, as well.

I'm not sure if the Cardinals are going for a reliever, starter, or both at the trading deadline. John Mozeliak recently said after Carp's injury, "We're not guessing anymore." "Now we know. If we can find a starter that would make the most sense for us." The Cardinals could definately use another reliever as well, and I'm sure that's on the radar. Marc Rzepczynski and Fernando Salas have been shaky this year, after being solid last season. Kyle McClellan has been hurt, and Eduardo Sanchez lost his command this year. Barret Browning could be the answer for a lefty reliever, but there is still a need for another right handed arm for the pen.

The next question is who would be available at the deadline? There has been talk of the Cardinals getting Matt Garza from the Cubs. But, would it be wise to trade top prospects to a division rival. The Cubs gave up a lot to get Garza, and would probably want a lot in return. Garza is 28, and would be under control next season, too. Zack Greinke might be available, but it's unlikely the Brewers would want to trade him to St. Louis. His comments about Chris Carpenter might not help either, but if he came here that could be forgotten. Greinke is up for free agency after the season, though.

The Cardinals could make a deal with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who is shopping Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, and Brandon Lyon. The Astros are moving to the American League West next year. However, Luhnow is very familiar with the Cardinals farm system, since he was farm director in St. Louis prior to taking the Astros job. It's possible we could get burned on a deal with him. Plus, none of those pitchers are worth a top prospect.

Cole Hamels might be shopped at the deadline this year. The Phillies have been in a freefall, and are in last place right now. Hamels will be a free agent at the season's end, and the Phillies might not re-sign him since they've already committed a lot of money to Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. For his career, Hamels is 84-58 with a 3.37 ERA. He is a three time All Star, and has been a good postseason pitcher. The Cardinals have made deals in the past for pending free agents(Scott Rolen, Matt Holliday), and been able to convince them to re-sign. Is the Phillies asking price reasonable, and would the Cardinals be able to re-sign Hamels? I'm not sure, Hamels is rumored to be looking for a nine figure deal.

Another guy who could be on the market is the Mariners Felix Hernandez. The Mariners are a lousy team, and could move King Felix for some prospects. Hernandez would be worth giving up some talent for, and is signed for two more seasons after this one. Hernandez is scheduled to make $20 million the next two years, but the Cardinals do have some money coming off the books. Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman are free agents after the year, and they make a little more than that combined. Jake Westbrook has an option, but it could be declined.

Hernandez has flown under the radar playing in Seattle. He did win the 2010 AL Cy Young Award, and recently was named to his third All Star team. He hasn't played in the postseason in his career that began in 2005. However, that's not his fault. Hernandez is still just 26 years old, and would add a frontline starter to the Cardinals rotation. He is a workhorse as well, pitching over 200 innings the previous four seasons.

What would it take to get a frontline starter? Shelby Miller would be the first player asked about. I would only trade Miller for King Felix, myself. Miller has struggled in Triple A this season, and hasn't been using his secondary pitches enough for the Cardinals liking. Despite his struggles, Miller is a bigtime talent. Miller was ranked #8 prospect in baseball prior to this season. Sometimes, it takes failure to become a better player. It's possible that Miller is hard headed, but he needs to make some adjustments. Still, Miller is only 21 years old, and I wouldn't want to trade him for a Matt Garza or Wandy Rodriguez. It would be nice to see Miller turn into the ace pitcher he's supposed to be with the Cardinals someday. But, with all of the pitching depth in the minor leagues, Miller could be traded and the Cardinals would still have Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Tyrell Jenkins, and Michael Wacha.

Zack Cox would be a guy I would be willing to part with. He was the Cardinals 2010 first round pick, and is a third baseman. He was struggling in his first year in Triple A, but has picked it up lately. Cox is blocked by David Freese, and would be perfect trade bait. I would even trade him for Garza or Rodriguez, if a better starter couldn't be acquired. I would also be willing to dangle Adron Chambers, Bryan Anderson, Joe Kelly, Adam Reifer, Eduardo Sanchez, Ryan Jackson, and John Gast. I would not consider trading Kolten Wong or Oscar Taveras, two Double A All Stars who will be in the big leagues within a year or two.

Trading for King Felix might be an unrealistic expectation, but John Mozeliak should explore the possibility. It would be awesome to have a rotation of King Felix, Waino, Lohse, Lynn, and Westbrook/Garcia. I would offer a package of Miller, Cox, Gast, Sanchez, and Chambers and see if that would work. The Mariners might ask for Matt Adams as well. I wouldn't want to trade both Adams and Miller in the same deal, myself. If that's the case, I would make the package just Miller, Adams, and a pick of one or two lower level prospects. If you're going to deal frontline prospects, you should get frontline talent. If Miller and/or Adams is dealt, it should be for Felix Hernandez, not Matt Garza.

               King Felix would look good in Cardinal Red

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