With the news that Chris Carpenter is back in St. Louis getting his problematic neck examined, the Cardinals need to move swiftly and sign free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt. It seems clear that Carpenter will miss the beginning of the season, and possibly be out long term.
He’s had nerve problems before, both in 2004 and 2008, that caused him to miss considerable time on the mound. Hopefully Carpenter will get the treatment he needs and be back sooner rather than later, but the Cardinals can’t risk that. They need to make a move right now.
The Cardinals are definitely built to win right now. Players like Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal weren’t signed to build for the future. They’re here because the Cardinals believe they have a legitimate chance to repeat as World Champions.
With Carpenter possibly out for a long time, it would only make sense to sign Oswalt to take the open spot in the starting rotation. Lance Lynn has been given the innings as a starter in spring training, and he may be a solid starter in time, but for 2012 the Cardinals would be better served to plug in the veteran Oswalt and use Lynn as a power arm at the back end of the bullpen.
Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook are both in the final years of the their contract and both are making big buck$ this year. They’ll be off the books next season, which should give the Cardinals some payroll flexibility to sign Oswalt.
If Carpenter is able to return to the team and pitch in the near future, the addition of Oswalt would give the club much needed depth with starting pitchers. One thing we can count on: another pitcher or two will down during the season. It happens every year. Carpenter probably won’t be the only pitcher who has a health issue this season. Adding Roy Oswalt to the roster would make a lot of sense for a lot of reasons for the Cardinals.