United Cardinal Blogger: 2012 Roundtable

This week, we were privileged to be given a day in the 2012 United Cardinal Blogger Round Table. We spent some time and came up with a question, and got numerous great responses. Here is our question:

” You all know all the health issues, and contract situations and success or lack thereof of each and every player. Now, it’s Spring 2013 and time to set the pitching rotation. What is your 2013 rotation and why? Andm if you think the Cardinals need to make a deal or sign FA pitching, tell us who and why. (realistic only, please). No Shane Robinson for Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer deals.”

Daniel Shoptaw: I don’t see any health concerns at the moment with the top two, so Adam Wainwright goes Opening Day and Chris Carpenter follows up behind.  Jake Westbrook will likely slide into the fourth slot.  What happens to three and five may be interesting. I‘m of the belief that Jaime Garcia is going to eventually need surgery.  If he’s healthy, he’s three, but I’m betting he won’t be to start next season.  That will probably put Lance Lynn at third and I’m thinking Shelby Miller wins out for the fifth slot over Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal, but it’ll be a true competition in the spring.

Daniel Solzman: I give Lynn a tight leash based on the second half of the season.  If  that Lynn shows up early on, move Joe Kelly into the rotation but I think Shelby  wins out that 5th slot over Rosenthal, too. Waino, Carp, and Westbrook are a given.  Garcia, I believe, will need  surgery so who knows how long he will be out.

Wes Keene: Wainwright got his issues straightened out after recovering from TJ surgery and finished out the season fairly well. He’s a no-brainer for the top slot. Carpenter will benefit from the off season, and a full spring to train and find his pitches again. He’ll be in the #2 hole. Westbrook is healthy and would have been promoted to the WS roster had the Cards progressed that far. He’ll slide into the #3 spot (and I think he’ll be good again). Garcia may well need surgery, the question is whether he can get it done soon and get back for Spring. I lack a crystal ball on that one, so I’ll hedge and say it’s either Garcia in the #4 hole, or Lance Lynn. I know that prediction will raise an eyebrow or two, but Lynn’s main issues showed up later in the season. That’s when you’ll see the wear and tear of a reliever being stretched out to starter duties show up. I think with an off season and Spring under his belt, Lance can be a solid starter again. Please don’t forget he was an 18 game winner for the Cards in 2012. He’s got the stuff. He just needs to find his endurance. The number 5 slot belongs to Joe Kelly. Kelly is a known quantity. It’s fun for everyone to gaze admiringly at the pitching prospects that now occupy the Cards bullpen, and they are fabulous. However, we don’t know how Rosenthal/Miller do as starters over the course of a 162 game season. There is every bit of a chance that they come down with Lance Lynn syndrome down the stretch. The Cards will want the stability in the rotation for 2013 that they lacked in 2012.

Dennis Lawson: I’ll take Wainwright, Carpenter, Westbrook, Lynn, and Miller to begin  the season.  When Garcia gets back to 100% (or whatever it is that Jaime usually reaches), I could care less who gets sent to the bullpen.   That’s not a bad problem to have when there is so much depth you could  have a #5 starter win 12-14 games.
If both Lynn and Miller  prove to be suitable starters, I wouldn’t mind dealing with the Rays for someone like Matt Moore.  It would likely cost the Cardinals something  in the neighborhood of Garcia plus Allen Craig and cash, but I’d take  Moore’s next few years over Garcia’s, and Craig has to be pretty highly  coveted as a 1B/DH in the AL.  As much as I really like Joe Kelly, he didn’t prove to be much more than a 5+ inning guy.  Upgrading the pitching staff would come at a cost, but I’m not convinced that Craig’s knee issues will ever go away.  Better to trade a year to early than a year too late.

Nick @ Pitchers Hit Eighth: I’m not convinced that anyone outside of Wainwright, Carpenter, and Westbrook are “known quantities” and even then, those three have their own questions. I’m with the camp that Garcia is not right without surgery, and may never be right. But I’m no Doc Andrews either. Give me Waino, Carp, Westbrook, Lynn, Miller. Rosenthal will start games at Memphis, Kelly will have the swingman role.

Dathan Brooks: I think Waino, Carp, & Westbrook are the only ones that are pretty well locked into the rotation for next year.  Miller, Rosenthal, Lynn, Kelly, Garcia, McClellan, Thompson, Suppan, Marquis, Williams, Bottenfield…they’ll all have their shot in spring training, and have a legit shot to earn the job.  It’s nice to see the surplus of arms flowing from the rotation to the ‘pen, and not the other way around, though.  It’s a very different picture, as you all well know, when you have to look at the bullpen, and try to decide who you’re going to try to slide into the rotation.

Wes Keene: I have a different recollection of the past season than some. I remember Kelly bailing the Cards out of a pretty tight starting pitching jam. Sure, his record looks lousy, since we assign the win or loss to the pitcher. He also had to pitch through some of the worst hitting slumps this season. I see no reason he can’t come out and be reliable. If he’s a five inning guy, then pencil in Miller to take two on his starts.

Bill Ivie: Let’s get the easy one’s out of the way: Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter will anchor the rotation, Jaime will have surgery that makes him a non-factor until later in the year and Jake Westbrook will factor as one of the starting five.  That leaves us with two spots. Lance Lynn will be given every opportunity to prove himself this spring and, in my opinion, will land in the bullpen when the dust settles. Shelby Miller will be in the rotation next year and based off of his work since being promoted, including his only regular season start that was masterful, he deserves it.  Lance Lynn had issues starting over the course of the season last year, but to assume Shelby would have those same issues is a bit premature.  A starter in MLB is asked to start 32(ish) games (162/5).  Shelby started 27 games at Memphis before his call up and landed one start in St. Louis.  Asking for four more starts is not asking the young man to stretch out that much.  He only averaged about 5 innings a start, and that may have an effect, but I don’t see there being fatigue issues here. I give the final spot to Joe Kelly.  While his average innings in games started was close to 6, he was also responsible for 10 quality starts in 16 total games started.  He showed signs of being a solid #3 guy in the rotation, and that’s what this team needs. So, to put them in order: Waino, Carp, Kelly, Miller, Westbrook.

Spencer Hendricks: No need to make trades in this area, and it’s pointless to suggest possible matches anyway since they won’t happen the way we’d draw it up. I don’t think Garcia is going to be much of a factor in 2013; this shoulder situation is troubling and I have a very bad feeling about it. That said, I’m hopeful Carpenter and Wainwright can both be healthy, and I’m sure Westbrook will be back and fine. As for the final two spots, I’d go with Lynn and Miller. Lynn has proven he can start with success, and Miller should be ready for the opportunity to prove the same. I don’t see Kelly as a good fit for the rotation based on his platoon splits, and I think Rosenthal is a better option for the bullpen than Miller. It’s really 2014 and beyond that the rotation will get very interesting, and possibly very young.

Kevin Reynolds: Wainwright, Carp, and Westbrook appear set (unless Carp develops some unforeseen complication), and count me firmly in the camp of believing Garcia will need surgery even if he tries to start the season without it. Three out of four doctors said “surgery” and one said “no surgery” – even if the one is THE doc, that’s not good odds. Regarding Lynn, one piece of info concerns me – the report floating around out there that the club expects Lance to work on his conditioning and slim down for the 2013 season. If not successful, the club may not trust handing him the ball all season long with all of the options they have. If he is successful, I worry about how the results will be impacted. When a pitcher changes his body type – especially a violent thrower like Lynn – it can take him a while to adjust to the impact that change has on his repeatable delivery. It makes me expect higher walk rates and control issues. Also, regarding Rosenthal…reports suggest he is going to move to St. Louis over the offseason to work with Chris Carpenter. That’s a big deal. I still think he starts the season in AAA getting innings under his belt against AAA hitters while applying whatever he can pull from Carp game to game…but his fastball is going to be tough to keep out of a big league rotation for long if he’s showing success in Memphis. For my money, that all means Miller and Kelly make the rotation. Shelby has his AAA innings in, and if he can show he can maintain the approach he learned last year and carry it into Spring Training, he’s going to get the nod. Kelly is simply ready. With the experience he gained last season, there’s really no point in sending him back down to log more AAA innings. And I’ve never liked his pitch assortment and make-up in the ‘pen. So…that means Waino, Carp, Westbrook, Kelly, and Miller…in that order…for me in 2013. Westbrook’s experience gives him the #3 spot, same with Kelly in #4, and Miller gets the fifth spot to possibly ease the slide into an MLB rotation at least somewhat. Lynn lands in the ‘pen.

Brian Vaughan: I definitely don’t see any need to add starting pitching depth, as that’s one thing the Cardinals have in abundance. The biggest question mark hangs over Jaime Garcia, who says he doesn’t need surgery. As Cardinals fans, we know the surest way to see a surgery coming is to wait for the exact words Garcia has already spoken, and I think he’ll miss plenty of time next season. As for the back of the rotation, I’d like to go with Lynn and Shelby Miller. Lynn has proven he can handle it and then some, and of the fifth starter options it’s Miller who has the upside that needs to be explored most thoroughly. So yeah, I’d set the rotation as follows: Wainwright/Carpenter/Lynn/Westbrook/Miller. If Garcia is healthy, like if he finds a particularly talented witch doctor or something, he can replace Lynn in the three hole. I’m much more curious to see how Rosenthal would fare as a starter than I am Kelly. I feel Kelly’s stuff plays up in relief, and with this much depth I’d rather him work toward becoming an excellent reliever than a fifth starter. Rosenthal has already shown the stuff to be one of the best relievers in the game, and it remains to be seen if his death fastball and sharp curve would do just as much damage in a  starter role.

Tom Knuppel: Being a bit more pessimistic I believe Carpenter is about finished. His health is always disconcerting and he is 37 years old. Now I do believe he starts the 2013 year in the rotation but I do not expect him to finish the entire year in it. Wainwright, Westbrook, Lynn, Miller and a new player (yet to be determined) finishes the season for us. If Garcia is healthy by July or August, he may be the 5th starter.

Chris Mallonee: Competition is a beautiful thing, so spring training will provide a lot of answers. If the decision had to be made today based on what we saw at the end of the season: 1. Adam Wainwright 2. Chris Carpenter 3. Jake Westbrook 4. Joe Kelly
Then you have a battle for the fifth spot between: Jaime Garcia, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal. Garcia is a great talent, but one that must be handled with care. The above 4 guys have proven to be the most consistent performers and deserve to be in the rotation, outside of injury. Lynn and Garcia need to re-prove themselves in spring training, Miller yet a proven big-league commodity (but should become a great starting pitcher), and Rosenthal (as I noted yesterday) a valuable asset out of the pen.

Dustin McClure: Wainwright, Carpenter and Westbrook are locks for the rotation barring any setbacks leading up to the season including Spring Training or Carp runs out of body parts to exchange for innings. If Jaime Garcia is ‘healthy’ he’ll be in the rotation leaving one spot up for competition. I’d be surprised if Shelby Miller does not start the year in the Cardinals rotation to complete the five. 2013 has been the season I’ve heard consistently as the target year for Miller to be in the STL rotation and I really don’t see a reason why that won’t be the case. Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly would start the year in the pen and Trevor Rosenthal in Memphis as a starter. Obviously the Garcia situation is up in the air and will need to play out. If he indeed misses significant time then Lynn and Kelly will be there to step in. Keep in mind Kelly, Lynn, Miller and Rosenthal especially aren’t necessarily conditioned to pitch near the 200 inning mark that most MLB pitchers strive for. Lance Lynn put in the most work this season complete with an All-Star Game appearance that should put him in good shape going forward. The Front Office will have inning marks in mind for these guys which should give all of them ample opportunity to showcase their talent and contribute.

Mary Clausen: Good question.  I like Adam Wainwright for Opening Day and Chris Carpenter next.  Jake Westbrook could go next & then Jaime. After that, we’ll have to see what happens.

Matt Whitener:  A solid question that’s easy early, then goes from party sunny to cloudy by the end.
1) Adam Wainwright: Nothing more needs to be said here. When healthy he’s been the ace of the club for four years now, and it’s his spot on both stuff and status.
2) Chris Carpenter: He’s still a question mark in my mind, and makes the rotation a more unsteady than it’s been in some years. At name value, he’s obvious for the spot, but on what he’s tossing it’s up in the air. I wouldn’t be shocked to hear if Carp hangs it up this winter. But if not he’s right here and if he recaptures a bit more bit on his breaking pitches, he’ll be a high quality #2, if not a bit more of a 3 at this point.
3) Lance Lynn: He pitched like an ace and pitched like an ass like year, so I give him the middle ground to start the year off. He’ll grown some, hopefully stronger and have a more diverse repetoire and be a solid middle of the rotation guy. Which is his roof.
4) Jake Westbrook: This is who Jake is, and it’s not a bad thing. He actually really stabilizes the rotation being here, throwing his innings and being dependable.
5) Shelby Miller: The wild card. It seems like this would be a wide open spot that Jaime Garcia, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal or even a free agent could make a run at. But I don’t see it that way. I don’t think there’s a chance that Jaime is ready; something is wrong there and it’s gonna take time. Rosenthal has never started in the Majors, and it would be better to get him completely polished and ready at Memphis like the attempted with Shelby. Kelly is the long needed heir to the good Kyle McClellan of 09-10 in the pen.
Shelby has shown he’s got the stuff and it’s time to see what he’s really got. His time is now, and he’ll be ready.

Mark Tomasik: Predicting the rotation will start with Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook and Shelby Miller. I have a bad feeling that Jaime Garcia isn’t going to feel healthy. Cardinals need to add starting pitching depth because I worry about Carpenter’s ability to hold up for an entire season and I worry about Westbrook’s effectiveness over a full season. Joe Kelly seems better suited for bullpen instead of starting.

Christine Coleman: This will be very similar to what you’ve already read, but: Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn for sure. Count me in the “Jaime Garcia will need surgery” group. For the fifth starter, I think it will be a good battle during spring training between Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly, and I think Miller will be added to the rotation and Kelly will go to the bullpen. But, if needed for injury or whatever reason, he can move back into the rotation. We saw that he was definitely more than capable of starting. Seems to me Rosenthal will be at Memphis, or at least begin the season there, because I think the plan is for him to be a starter. It’s what he was in the Quad Cities all during 2011, and he was a good one. But I think he needs a little more time to develop secondary pitches to go along with that fastball. The fact he’s working with Chris Carpenter this winter is terrific — who better to learn from?

What is YOUR 2013 Cardinals rotation? Let us know what you think!