Always hard to follow along with all the moves, so I’m hoping this gives an indication of where the Cardinals pitching is at within the central division.
I’m going to use the depth charts at mlb.com as the reference. They are fairly up to date as they show Greene at SS already.
SP: Wainright, Lohse, Wellemeyer, Piniero, Garcia, Carpenter, McClellan
Pen: Perez, McCLellan, T. Johnson, Kinney, Thompson, Carpenter, Motte, (Miller), Ring
SP: Zambrano, Lilly, Dempster, Harden, Marquis
Pen: Marmol, Wuertz, Hart, Wells, Fox, Cox, Gaudin, Marshall, Samardzija, Guzman, Luis Vizcaino
SP: Suppan, Parra, Gallardo, Bush, Capuano, McClung
Pen: Hoffman, Riske, Villanueva, Julio, Coffey, Stettar, Dillard, DiFelice
SP: Oswalt, Rodriguez, Backe, Hampton, Moehler
Pen: Valverde, Geary, Hawkins, Brocail, Wright, Byrdak, Sampson, Arias
SP: Harang, Volquez, Arroyo, Cueto, Owings, Bailey
Pen: Cordero, Weathers, Burton, Linclon, Bray, Majewski, Masset, Ramirez, Roenicke, Herrera
SP: Maholm, Snell, Ohlendorf, Gorzelanny, Duke, Karstens, Dumatrait
Pen: Capps, Grabow, Yates, Bautista, Burnett, Beam, Chavez, Hansen, Sanchez
I’ll have to admit that I don’t know all of the pitchers listed in the bullpen for teams other than the Cardinals. So far what strikes me is that the Cardinals don’t have a 5th starter. Some say that will be McClellan, but that takes quite a bite out of the bullpen. Carpenter in the pen is a red flag as well. Can you really count on Carpenter pitching at all, or will it be another year trying to force him in somewhere? Could he maybe become the closer similar to Smoltz? If Carpenter can pitch effectively out of the pen or if he could enter the rotation, then things look much brighter for Cardinal pitching. For some reason Trever Miller wasn’t shown, so I added him in. Maybe it is still to early to try this as a few players like Tyler Johnson and Randy Flores, might not even be offered contracts. Probably safe to say with Miller signing for 1 year that Flores is out at least. The bullpen is looking pretty inexperienced without Franklin and Springer and Villone in there.
Looking at the Cubs, even without Peavy they have a solid rotation, not losing any starters from last year. They also still have Rich Hill lingering in the minors somewhere hoping to regain his spot. Marquis is the man on the outs, but he doesn’t make a bad 5th starter even if they don’t move him. Could also use Gaudin as the 5th starter if Hill doesn’t come through or they don’t sign another pitcher. There are always injury concerns with Harden and even BigZ starting showing signs of wear last year. I guess maybe Marshall could even start. Bullpen looks good but obviously would look much stronger with an established closer. Losing Kerry Wood seems to put Marmol in the closer role and maybe Smardzija in as the 8th inning guy, but Marmol was so good in that role and who really knows if he can handle full time closer duties.
The Brewers sans Sheets just doesn’t look like the same rotation at all, not to mention the one that also had CC on it! Riske is the perfect name for this guy as a possible closer and Julio has not had sustained success. I have always thought Coffey had good potential, but has to stay healthy and show what he has. Parra, Gallardo, Capuano, Bush all have good cases to make as starters, but certainly not Sheets or CC.
Get past Oswalt on Houston and again you really don’t know what you have. Wandy Rodriguez has shown flashes and Hampton looks to rebound, but doubtful he’ll ever be the same pitcher that commanded the huge contract. The pen looks very strong with Valverde closing (assuming he doesn’t melt down at some point during the season) and a number of really good set up guys. I kind of expect that Sampson winds up starting at some point.
The Reds starting pitching will go the way of Harang and Arroyo. Having to pitch half the games at home isn’t going to help their confidence. Volquez is obviously a stud and Cueto should continue to improve. Owings should at least contribute in the hitting department but has been very inconsistent. I followed him in the minors and the reports were that he was a good pitcher but lacked a true strikeout pitch. Homer Bailey was thought to be the next stud several years ago, but has really regressed since then. The bullpen looks real solid although Cordero as closer doesn’t excite me too much. I also don’t like seeing Lincoln on the Reds since the Cards really never got anything out of him when he was here except for a brief flash that he was good. He did have some rough stretches last year but a year of conditioning should get him back on track. Bray is a lefty that I like as well and Burton is also solid. The Reds pitching could be tough, but still several lingering questions to answer.
About all I can say about the Pirates is that I like their closer Capps. Used to think highly of some of the starters but the shine has dulled considerably on them.
From a pitching standpoint it wouldn’t take the Cardinals much to get right up there with the Cubs. Add an Oliver Perez, Ben Sheets, Derek Lowe, Brad Penny type and a closer, maybe Fuentes or trade for Saito or Jenks possibly and thinks look pretty sweet. Add a lesser pitcher like a Wolf or resign Looper and no closer and it still isn’t terrible, but will take a lot more work from the hitting to have a winning season. I’m still not ruling out an Izzy return either.
I’m sure I’m missing some pitchers, but just wanted to get down what I could for now and see how things were shaping up.