The Cardinals continued to roll this weekend as they took 2 of 3 from the Cubs. Adam Wainwright looked awful in the home opener, but we all need to give him time to come back fully from TJS. The good news is the Cards are 7-3 without getting a win from Wainwright or Chris Carpenter, as well as having Matt Holliday slow out of the gate. The bad news for 2 players on the team is that Skip Schumaker and Allen Craig are on their way back.
If I had to guess right now, I think Tyler Greene and Shane Robinson would be the odd men out, with Greene being claimed off waivers by another team since the Cards have to expose him if they try to send him down. I thought Greene might make the most of his chances, but, and it’s still early yet, he looks like a 4A player both in the field and at the plate. Again, it’s a small sample size, but Greene isn’t helping himself when he makes mistakes on routine plays like missing soft liners, groundouts, and bunting balls in the air. I was pulling for Greene, but there’s a reason manager Mike Matheny is giving Daniel Descalso the bulk of the playing time.
Robinson is an easy choice to send down, well, sort of. If the Cards do elect to send Robinson down, it would be to keep Rule 5 pick Erik Komatsu on the team. Komatsu does a lot of things well, but might not be anything more than a left-handed hitting version of Robinson. That might keep Robinson in the mix, because both Jon Jay and Schumaker are also LHB’s, and it wouldn’t make much sense to have 3 CF’s that all hit from the right side. I’m saying that because obviously none of the 3 are going to start over Carlos Beltran or Holliday. It will be a tough decision, and possibly one the Cards won’t have to make.
The player I’m leaving out of the conversation of being sent down is Matt Carpenter. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions on his fast start (9 for 22 (.409), 1 HR and 10 RBI’s), but he just looks a like the guy you want to have backing up Lance Berkman and David Freese. Once again, this is another tough decision for the Cards, because Craig is going to receive a lot of AB’s for Beltran and Berkman, and here and there for Holliday.
The good news is the Cards seem to have a lot of quality depth up to this point. These moves might all be negated by injuries sorting things out more easily. Let’s just hope the Cards have to make these tough decisions instead of the injuries.
Getting on the other starting pitchers, Lance Lynn has really impressed. The perfect scenario would be for C. Carpenter to be back sometime in early June, which would allow Lynn to move back to the bullpen, but be ready for a full season of starting in 2013. Look for Jaime Garcia to be better at home, and look for more of the same from Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook. In his two healthy seasons with the Cards, Lohse has been great. In 2008, he was 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP in 200 IP. In 2011, Lohse was 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP in 188.1 IP. I assume it’s because of his two seasons in 2009 and 2010 in which he pitched injured that he’s still a whipping boy to many.
Westbrook lost 20 pounds in his contract year, and had 13 groundball outs in his last start. Lohse is also in a contract year. If they can hold it together until Wainwright is right, this team can be really good. So far so good in 2012, and I’m looking forward for it to continue.