A lot to talk about during the spring training opener

I’ve been in a funk for the last few days again.  This time, it results from knowing that Adam Wainwright is not going to pitch for the Cardinals in 2011, and probably not until midseason of 2012.  Hopefully he’s still in a Cardinal uniform at that point.  I listened to the Bernie Miklasz show today for a while, and he said he had 3 reliable sources that reported to him that the 5th starter’s spot is Kyle McClellan’s to lose.  No surprise there.  That could mean trouble for the bullpen, but it appears the Cardinals have enough arms in there to get by if, and now it’s a big if, depending on whether the starters can routinely go deep into games.  Losing Adam Wainwright to TJS is a big blow, and a lot of that is because of the 230 innings we will lose.  McClellan has not pitched more than 128 innings in a season, which he did for Peoria in 2004.

Dave Duncan has faith in Kyle McClellan as a starter, and actually thinks he will be better utilized in the role because of his command of 4 different pitches.  Hopefully he’s right.  The other problem with losing Wainwright is that it pushes all the other starters up one spot in the rotation.  It seems almost impossible to think that Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia will be able to pick up the slack.  Lohse pitched 111 innings in 2010 between Springfield, Memphis and St. Louis.  Garcia pitched 163.1 innings last year, and the Cardinals don’t want to increase his workload too much too soon after only pitching 37.2 innings in 2009.  Jake Westbrook didn’t pitch in the bigs in 2009, combining for only 18.2 innings in 2009 in the minors.  Asking Westbrook, Garcia and Lohse to all come close to 200 innings may well happen, but it seems unlikely at least one of them will go through a dead arm period at best.

So, my worries continue.  I think we may see more starters than we had hoped for this year.  But I’ll move on for now and hope for the best.  As much as I feel the season may be lost, I’m not giving up hope just yet.

This brings us to today, the first spring training game.   While the Cardinals lost to the Marlins today, it was nice that Lance Berkman hit one out.  It was disappointing that David Freese didn’t play.  I’m not sure if he’ll hold up or if he even makes it to opening day, but the fact is the Cardinals need him more than ever.  To win this year, the Cardinals are going to need that deep lineup where we see Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Berkman, Freese and Colby Rasmus to give depth to the lineup.  The Cardinals are going to have to score early and often. 

Maybe there will be a couple of players come out of nowhere to give the Cardinals the offense they desperately need now.  Maybe the Brewers are not going to be as good as I think they will be.  Maybe the Cardinals will be able to pull it out and everything from here on out goes as planned.  However, I’m not putting all my chips in now.

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