Quantcast 2008 St. Louis Cardinals: Many Uncertainties for Redbirds Heading into Chicago
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Many Uncertainties for Redbirds Heading into Chicago

You get the feeling that this weekend’s series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs is going to have major implications in the Division and Wild Card races and Tony LaRussa and company head to Chicago with a lot of question marks. The first problem the Redbirds have isn’t necessarily a bad problem to have because it suggests a surplus of pitching at the end of the rotation. Who is going to be squeezed out of the rotation when Wainwright returns?

St. Louis Cardinals hats & merchandiseThe Cardinals’ opening day hurler could be back as early as next week and that leaves a decision on the table of Tony LaRussa. What’s guaranteed? We know that the big 3 will be Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Kyle Lohse. This leaves Braden Looper (who will most likely be number 4), Todd Wellemeyer, and Joel Pineiro. With the way Looper and Wellemeyer have pitched, and the way Pineiro hasn’t of late, you have to feel Pineiro is pitching for his job here in the next week or two. If your General Manager John Mozeliak you hate to have 5 ½ million dollars invested this season into a guy who will be watching from the bullpen, but Pineiro sure is making a case to Cardinals management that he’d like to chew sunflower seeds while Wellemeyer induces ending inning double play balls. In fact, in Pineiro’s last 10 starts he has averaged a respectable 6 1/3 innings pitched but has conceded nearly 9 hits and nearly 4 runs for an ERA over 5. Meanwhile, Todd Wellemeyer is 8-4 and has pitched brilliantly in his last 3 starts. I think without question that the Cardinals need for Pineiro to be the guy they can turn to every 5 days for a quality start, but there is a lot of pressure on LaRussa right now to hand the ball to the guy who is going to help the ball club win games.

The closer situation has been an issue since the season began. Tony recently promoted Jason Isringhausen back to closer in place of Ryan Franklin in a bullpen that leads the league in blown saves. Izzy has converted just 12 saves in 19 opportunities with an ERA near 6 this season. Ryan Franklin has blown 7 saves in 21 chances and Kyle McClellan has just 1 save in 5 chances. This has left Tony and pitching coach Dave Duncan with no choice but to defer to a closer by committee role for the bullpen. Many die-hard Cardinal fans have called for Chris Perez to get his shot in the 9 th where he is projected to be at one day. Tony has shown he is going to be very cautious with Perez and that there will not be a defined closer in the meantime.

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There is some good news this week for the Cardinals as they were able to sign switch-hitting infielder, Felipe Lopez. Lopez was an all-star back in 2005 and adds some depth to the Cardinals bench as a utility player. This comes after the Cardinals get to see development from a young outfielder due to the injuries to Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan. Joe Mather is getting some at-bats at the major league level and has shown to be a better defender than expected. With Ankiel out the Redbirds are forced to hit Ludwick and Glaus 4-5 and will have to count on Mather to hit in the 2-spot in front of Pujols on most days where he should see a lot of fast balls and opportunities to provide power to this line-up.



By Zack Estes
St. Louis Cardinals Correspondent

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