|Oswalt could be in the ‘Cards’||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on April 01, 2012
Usually after a team wins the World Series, there aren't too many major question marks heading into the following season. However, the St. Louis Cardinals enter 2012 with many uncertainties.
In addition to losing Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa, the Cardinals received news that their ace starting pitcher Chris Carpenter will be out for an indefinite period of time with nerve irritation in his throwing shoulder. There's no official timetable for his return, but Carpenter is likely to miss several months of the season.
Jaime Garcia might not have had as impressive a season last year as in 2010 (13-8, 2.70 ERA), but he's established himself as a consistent starter for the Cards. He will need to continue his positive progression since the team will need him to be an innings-eater with Carpenter on the shelf.
Speaking of innings-eaters, that's exactly what Jake Westbrook is when healthy. He has pitched at least 180 innings in five of his seven full seasons. In those other two seasons, he spent time as a reliever one year and was hurt for part of the other. Though his 4.66 ERA was high, he still managed to win 12 ballgames at the back of the Cards' rotation.
Rounding out the rotation, Kyle Lohse regained some of the form last year from his 2008 season. He was 15-6 with 3.78 ERA that year, and he went 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA last year. However, the two seasons in between he was a combined 10-18 with a 5.53 ERA. If he can maintain his 2011 form, Lohse can continue to be a valuable asset to the rotation.
If this were the early days of baseball when pitchers threw basically every other day, St. Louis would be in great shape. However, with the advent of the five-man rotation, the Cardinals are now one starting pitcher short heading into the season.
Mitchell Boggs, Kyle McClellan and Mark Rzepczynski are in-house candidates that all have starting experience, but each of them figures to have a spot in the bullpen.
One name that immediately comes to mind in Roy Oswalt. The 34-year-old remains unsigned after going 9-10 last season in just 23 starts. Despite his small frame, he threw so hard for so long, that teams are shying away from him based on the injury risk.
The Boston Red Sox are said to be tied to Oswalt rumors. After Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, Boston needs to fill two rotation spots, and rather than shake up their bullpen by making both Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves starters, maybe they sign Oswalt.
But Oswalt also would make sense for the Cardinals. It would likely be an incentive-laden one-year deal to give the team some insurance after losing Carpenter.
Oswalt, regardless of the age, is a proven commodity. The Cardinals -- coming off a World Series title -- would be inclined to bring in an experienced starter so that the bullpen, which came up clutch in the playoffs, remains in tact.
It's tough to replace one injury-prone starter (Carpenter) with another (Oswalt), but if the Cards don't act fast, they may lose out to the Red Sox. Let's see if the Cards think Oswalt is the answer.