The 2011 MLB season was supposed to be a season filled with promise and potential for the St. Louis Cardinals. It was suppose to be a season the was to afford the Cardinals a bit of retribution after missing the playoffs in 2010, despite finishing 86-76—heck, even fantasy baseball fans were champing at the bit over the St. Louis Cardinals’ net fantasy baseball value in 2011.
But now? The Cardinals’ potentially potent season is severely in jeopardy thanks to the latest news from GM John Mozeliak regarding staff pitching ace Adam Wainwright, and his apparent need for Tommy John surgery.
So now what?
Fellow pitcher Chris Carpenter now becomes the new head of the starting rotation, but how in the world are the Cardinals going to replace a pitcher who has been a 19+ winner for the past two years?
It isn’t as if the Cardinals are out of options, but in the same vein, their options aren’t exactly stellar replacements either.
Kyle McClellan, Ian Snell, Lance Lynn, Brian Tallet and Miguel Batista, are the immediate internal replacements.
But McClellan, Tallet, Snell and Bautista COMBINED, hold a 39-50 record with a 4.30 ERA (record and ERA are averages for all four pitchers’ career numbers).
The young buck Lance Lynn, the only real potential bright spot, shows a bit of promise in his 25-15 record and 3.01 ERA as a minor league pitcher…but the thought of a hard throwing rookie filling the shoes of Waino is a bit lofty to say the least.
The Cardinals could also explore other options outside the organization such as Kevin Milwood and Jeremy Bonderman, but again, not exactly the same caliber arms.
And the injury to Wainwright also has additional issues.
If you take a hard team analysis look at the division—as I am currently doing— nearly every team has upgraded in some department which is surely to increase the parity in competition—needless to say, losing your ace doesn’t help counter such off-season moves.
Not to mention the other National League powerhouses lurking in the background such as, but not limited to, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
In any event, the one thing the Cardinals can rely on is their ability to hit. Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, David Freese—great sleeper candidate—and of course Albert Pujols are more than capable swinging giants who will now be asked to do just a little bit more with the bat, in an effort to keep this team competitive.
The moral of the story is, the Cardinals will have a much tougher time getting to the postseason without Adam Wainwright, but it isn’t as if it's the end of the world either.
And for all of you fantasy baseball fans, the aforementioned hitters could have some added value now that they will inevitably have to carry a heavier load, so keep that in mind on your draft day.