Final Pieces To The Puzzle, Part 1
It's now officially been one month since our last post and more than one month since my last post. However, with football winding down and personally not being a huge basketball or hockey fan, it's about that time to start getting excited about baseball season. As seems to be the current trend on Cardblogs right now, what better subject for my first post back than a look at the current Cardinals roster and the potential final pieces to the puzzle? Today, we'll start with the pitching staff.
1) Chris Carpenter
2) Mark Mulder (post-All Star break)
3) Anthony Reyes
4) Kip Wells
5-*6) Pick 2 of: Adam Wainwright, Ryan Franklin, Brad Thompson, Chris Narveson (not Blooper)
Analysis: Despite comments to the contrary by LaDunc, one has to believe (barring his trade) that Reyes is a lock for the opening day rotation, along with Carpenter and a presumably-healthy Kip Wells; Reyes' stellar performance in Game 1 of the World Series remains hard to ignore. At least going into spring training, the prevalent theory is that Narveson would have to have a Wainwright-esque stint in Jupiter in order to make the team and, if so, would only make the club as a starter. Dependent on Izzy's health, Wainwright is certainly the front-runner for 1 of the 2 remaining spots, as the front office would like to pin down his long-term role (starter or closer) more clearly before Izzy's become a FA following the 2007 season. That leaves to likely final spot to either Thompson or Franklin, who I perceive as the Cards' version of Aaron Heilman and the 2007 version of Josh Hancock respectively. Here's guessing that the final answer is neither, but instead option #5 ... Jeff Weaver (my gut says that Jocketty/Weaver finally wear down
With: 1) Carpenter; 2) Mulder; 3) Weaver; 4) Reyes; 5) Wells; 6) Wainwright
Without: 1) Carpenter; 2) Mulder; 3) Reyes; 4) Wells; 5) Wainwright; 6) Franklin
Option 'with' teems with potential dominance, while option 'without' reeks of inconsistency and predication. Both options will likely prove servicable to slightly above-average, but only the top option has the potential to be downright dominant.
Just looking at the likely options (no immediate wild cards like Cate, Narveson, etc.) with a presumed bullpen of 7, here is the potential breakdown (alphabetically):
RH: Franklin, Hancock, Kinney, Looper, Springer, Thompson
LH: Flores, Johnson, Rincon
Analysis: Without Weaver, either Franklin or Thompson would be ticketed for the rotation (at least for the first half). There would then be 9 relievers for 7 spots. With Weaver, there would be 10 relievers for 7 spots. In either scenario, the bullpen should be a strength and a source of depth, but at least two pitchers must go (either to AAA or via trade). The only assurances seem to be Izzy and Springer. Franklin and Hancock are in many ways the same pitcher ... the prevailing guess is that one of them will be traded/demoted and one kept for rotation depth/long relief. Kinney is a keeper, but still has minor league options, hence his uncertainty. Looper will likely stay given his contract/closer history, but could be traded as a salary dump. Thompson will either stay or be demoted. From the LH side, 1 of 3 will go, likely Rincon via trade, but it could be either Johnson or Flores depending on what is offered in return (RH bat from the Tigers?). The following are my predictions for scenarios with and without Weaver:
With: Izzy, Looper, Springer, Kinney, Franklin, Johnson, Flores (Rincon/Hancock traded, Thompson AAA starter)
Without: Izzy, Looper, Springer, Kinney, Thompson, Johnson, Flores (
The bottom line ... please make a decision soon, Dream Weaver ...