Feldman: Cardinals options following season-long loss of Garcia

Feldman: Cardinals options following season-long loss of Garcia

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 27: ARY 27: Michael Wacha #74 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the New York Mets at Tradition Field on February 27, 2013 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

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by Brian Feldman / BaseballStL

KMOV.com

Posted on May 24, 2013 at 2:53 PM

(BaseballStL) -- The fact Jaime Garcia was able to pitch this year at all is nothing short of incredible.  Diagnosed with a torn labrum and rotator cuff last year, he elected to skip surgery and go with rest and rehab.  That worked.
 
For a while.
 
Until the pain became so intense that he nearly had to ask out of a start on May 17th at Busch Stadium against the Brewers.  Further evaluation discovered a still torn labrum and, low and behold, recommendation for surgery.
 
I'm not a doctor and I certainly don't pretend to play one on TV.  But when someone tells me something is torn in my body and recommends surgery, I'm typically going to take it.  Sitting around hoping to be a medical miracle wouldn't be my style.
 
Yet, nevertheless, here we are in May and the Cardinals will be without a pitcher who has - when he's right - some of the best stuff on the entire pitching staff.  You don't pitch 163 and a third innings of 2.70 ERA ball as a rookie (2010) without it.  Jaime Garcia is downright filthy when he's on the mound with his weapons.
 
Where will GM John Mozeliak turn for the remainder of the year?  This is not a club without options.
 
Chris Carpenter
 
He's option 1, 1a, 1b, 1c, 2, 3 and 4.  If you can get this guy healthy and ready to pitch in big league games you were going to want him in the rotation regardless of someone getting hurt.  Now that it's happened with Garcia, your decision was just made for you as opposed to making an uncomfortable call later on.
 
The thing here is that the Cardinals are in no way, shape or form going to rush Carp.  He was so badly suffering from nerve conditions in his shoulder and neck that he called Mozeliak in the offseason telling him he couldn't pitch.  The organization felt compelled to call a press conference saying he'd be out for the season.
 
So just because Carpenter was recently playing catch with his son and found himself able to throw doesn't guarantee he'll make it all the way back to a major league mound.  He's crossed a lot of thresholds thus far.  But there's many more to go.
 
A successful return of #29 would feature a rotation of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn and - when healthy - Jake Westbrook.  That's about as good as you can hope for at this point in the year.
 
Michael Wacha
 
The #1 pick out of Texas A&M is a popular talking point nowadays as to when he's going to be brought up begin his - assumed - long career with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Wacha is currently tearing up AAA-Memphis to the tune of this stat line:  he's 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 52 and two-thirds innings pitched and owns a .187 opponents batting average.
 
Filthy.
 
The question now is simple.  When?  Wacha's service clock is an issue but, to me, more importantly is waiting for the Carpenter situation to clear up.  GM John Mozeliak has said once Wacha is brought up, he's never going back.  He's here to stay.  Well, if you bring him up now and all of a sudden Chris Carpenter is indeed healthy in two months, then what?
 
You may as well wait for that situation to gain clarity before jumping the gun on Wacha.  If Carpenter has a setback and you can't count on him?  Fine, bring up Wacha and have the future be now.  But until then, it's best to be patient and let everything play out.
 
Other
 
This could be a number of things.  First of all, what happens if during Westbrook and Carpenter's absence John Gast and/or Tyler Lyons continue to pitch well?  You have to be open to that possibility.  No one thought Joe Kelly would come in last year and do what he did in relief of Jaime Garcia.  So far, and I understand it's been just a few starts, Gast and Lyons have given the Cardinals a chance to win each time out.  If this continues, the Cards would be foolish not to give them added opportunities.
 
Finally, it could be going outside the organization (i.e. trade deadline acquisition).  Cliff Lee will be dangled by Philadelphia is the Phillies aren't in contention.  Other appealing starters will be available too.  Something tells me this would be an absolute last resort for Mozeliak and company.  They prefer strongly to go with what they've got as opposed to giving up future pieces for a short term fix. 

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