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The Pain In The Cardinals' Neck

Posted on March 12, 2012 at 6:46 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals | United Cardinal Bloggers
While "it could have been worse" is accurate and in some form relieving, it's not necessarily the phrase you want to hear associated with your projected Opening Day starter during spring training.

Chris Carpenter, as you likely know by now, is dealing with more than just neck stiffness.  He has a bulging disc in his neck (note: glad I'm typing this--I got tripped up a time or two recording Episode 18 of the podcast last night.  Speaking of, Episode 18 is out with Aaron Somners of District On Deck!) instead of the nerve damage that people around the organization were starting to get concerned about.  Nerve damage curtailed his 2004 season (imagine how history might have changed with a healthy Carpenter in those playoffs) and reoccurred during his 2007-2008 medical problems.  So we don't have to worry about that, which is nice.

Reading through the WebMD stuff about a bulging disc, it sounds like the route the Cardinals are taking is the regular and prescribed one.  This isn't one of those times where a pitcher needs surgery but opts for rest and rehab.  It sounds like Carp is already doing better and Opening Day isn't quite in jeopardy, which is good for a lot of people's mental health.

Of course, the first name that came to mind when hearing about a Carpenter injury was Roy Oswalt.  However, unless Carp's going to miss half the season or so--something that doesn't look likely now--Oswalt still doesn't fit on this squad.  They are more likely to let Kyle McClellan or Lance Lynn prepare for a handful of starts than throw money at Oswalt and have too many bodies for not enough starting rotation slots when Carpenter returns.

However, figuring out who they do want to take that spot is the conversation the club is starting to have now, just in case.  Bill, having read things like this article, brought up Marc Rzepczynski as a possible option on last night's Gateway To Baseball Heaven.  It wasn't something I'd thought of until he mentioned it, but after thinking about it, I'm not sure I'd want to have him as a temporary guy.  I know Rzep was promoted as a possible starter when he was brought into St. Louis and it's possible that he could move into that role, but for his career he's significantly worse against righties, which would make up the bulk of his work as a starter.  Now, that's not to say that he couldn't develop and adjust to being able to get righties out as well, but my feeling is that, to have that happen, he'd really need to make a commitment to being a starter.  I don't know that he'd be well-suited to bouncing from starting to relieving.

I believe Carpenter is supposed to address the situation today, so we'll probably know soon if this is just an exercise in theoretical thinking or it is something that will come to pass.  Hopefully he's having a strong recovery and a lot of this will be moot.

Cards have had some rain issues this weekend, having a delayed one on Saturday (something that didn't sit well with Mike Matheny--if you close your eyes, you could almost imagine it was Tony La Russa still in the dugout) and then a postponed one on Sunday.  That washout played havoc with Matheny's plan of getting pitchers work, which means expect a lot of different faces in the two split squad games of today.  Shelby Miller gets the start in the game at Washington's park, but I don't think he's at all in the mix to replace Carpenter.

Allen Craig is finally admitting that he won't be ready for Opening Day.  This isn't news to the rest of us, as no one has been expecting Craig on the field when the Cards and Marlins start it off for real.  Most likely, it's been one of those carrots that Adam Wainwright talked about in coming back from his surgery.  Waino put the idea of pitching in the playoffs out there as motivation, even though he really knew there was no chance that would happen.  It kept him focused and motivated, though, and I think that's sort of what Craig was doing here.  It still sounds like the home opener or soon thereafter is at least in the realm of possibility, though until he gets out on the field, it's tough to set any sort of timetable.

Jon Jay gets his turn as a profile story at the Post-Dispatch.  Jay's going to be a guy that a lot of people have their eye on as he begins the first season where he's the starter.  It looks like he's been talking with Jim Edmonds, which is a darn good way of getting prepared to play center field on a regular basis.  (If we start seeing a lot of diving catches, we'll know he's taking the lessons to heart!)  Jay's tailoffs after being anointed "the guy" due to trades in the last couple of seasons makes people wonder if he's being overexposed, that he's not at his best as a fourth-outfielder type.  However, he did hit .303 in September last year with a couple of home runs, so pegging him as a starter still seems to be reasonable.

Cards have the split-squad games today, at Washington and against Atlanta.  Lots coming here at the blog today as well, as later this morning not only will there be the Milwaukee Playing Pepper but also the last UCB roundtable discussion.  I also have a post in the works about my weekend trip to the Cardinals Hall of Fame exhibit down in Little Rock, but that may not pop up until tomorrow. (EDIT: Nope, got it done!  Should be up this afternoon.)  Enjoy your Monday!

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Matt Carpenter (3)
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Pete Kozma (3)
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David Freese (1)
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Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
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2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%

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