Tuesday, January 26, 2010

the return of pitching tuesday

23 days until pitchers and catchers report. (Yes, that's counting today. Just work with me, please.)

23 reminds me of A-Rey, and A-Rey reminds me of pitching. The 5-man rotation has a pretty solid foundation going into 2010, but questions linger, primarily concerning the fifth spot.

We've got Carp and Wainwright (I still refuse to call him Waino), two of the best pitchers in the NL who should've shared the Cy Young in '09 but ended up with only each other to hold. Then there's Lohse, who wasn't stellar the year after signing a huge and very well-timed contract with the club, but who has the talent and experience to contribute quite a bit this season. Brad Penny rounds out the main four as the latest addition to the team, and it should be very interesting to see not if, but how Duncan is able to build on his strengths and help him pitch his way into our hearts.

The last spot in the rotation is where the question lies. Jaime Garcia? Kyle McClellan? Mitch Boggs? Or maybe someone else will step up during ST and give us another name to chew on. None of these options is ideal, Garcia because of missing all of '09 and with not much major league experience to begin with, Mac because he is so valuable in the 'pen, and Boggs because, well, he tends to go downhill very quickly when he goes. Brad Thompson is gone, but I wouldn't have been too excited about him in the rotation, anyway. There's still an outside chance of bringing Smoltz back, but I'm not holding my breath. Besides which, it's hard to imagine him lasting all year without any issues.

Truth be told, it might make sense for the Cards to sign a fifth man at this point, but I don't look for that to happen. At least not until Tony and Dave get a better feel for what we have to work with.

The bullpen is evidently going to look very similar to last year. Ryan Franklin will hold down the 9th innings, Dennys Reyes and Trever Miller will primarily come in against lefties, and Kinney and Motte will cover the gaps. Some newer additions could include Walters, Jukich, Samuel*, and Ottavino, but again, it's hard to know which of the hopefuls will have their dreams come true until we actually see them take the ball in ST.

*Youngest pitcher on the roster.... He just turned 23.

Once upon a time I heard talk of Russ Springer rejoining the team. That was probably just a fairy tale.

Know who I'd really like to have? Max Scherzer. He's a Missouri native, so I feel kind of possessive of him. I just know someday he and Mark Buehrle will wear the birds on the bat.

Think the Mariners really have a chance now that they've got Cliff Lee? Think the Phils could've made it as far as they did without him?