It has always been said that pitching wins Championships. And we couldn’t have succeeded this post-season without Carpenter, Weaver, Suppan, and Reyes all stepping up at the right times and delivering BIG TIME. So what shape are we going to be in for 2007? Well, here is my take on things.
Our Fist Priority should be to sit down and talk extension with Carpenter. Right now, he is signed thru 2007 with an $8 million option for 2008. Carepenter is second maybe only to Pujols as far as importance to this team, so our number one priority should be to offer him a longer deal before we start spending with anyone else. It is good that we don’t have to worry about him for next year, but wouldn’t it be nice to have him for a long term deal. He has shown to be loyal in the past, and we put a lot of faith in him when we signed him from the Bluejays. So, i am hoping that this can be a two way street and we can sign him for a while. That being said, he is the ONLY starting pitcher from our 2006 opening day roster that is returning. Suppan, is probably going to go elsewhere in my opinion. I think that while we would love to have him back, the bidding will get crazy high after his display in the post-season. The Yankees have already expressed an interest in acquiring his services, so the writing may be on the wall. Mark Mulder would be wise to sign a one year "discount deal" with us, so he could bounce back from his injuries and lackluster performance in 2006. I still think that he is one of the top left handers in the game today. So he would be wise to do what Matt Morris did, sign a one year deal, show you can perform, THEN test the free agent pool. If he had had a good 2006, he would have more than likely commanded up to $12 Million a year. As it stands now, i doubt he will cash in to that extent if he leaves. Either way, we can’t count on him to return. He has already been talking to Baltimore. As his replacement, i would LOVE to get Barry Zito, although i haven’t heard so much as a word about that. Next you have Jeff Weaver, who replaced Sidney Ponson’s place in the rotation mid-season. Jeff has come back to being the pitcher he used to be, thanks in no small part to Walt Jocketty, Tony La Russa, and most of all Dave Duncan. So it would be nice to sign him too. But he is also in the same catagory as Suppan. A great post season display should make him attractive to pitching starved teams, particularly National League ones. I would say his chances to come back to St. Louis are at about 60% if I had to guess. The last of the starters from 2006 is Jason Marquis. I have always loved his bat, and his potential. But it became clear this year that he isn’t going to realize that potential under Duncan. So I think we have seen the last of Jason Marquis. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went somewhere closer to New York, where he is from. So where does that leave us after all that speculation? Back to where we started, Chris Carpenter. And that is it…So where is our staff going to come from. Well, it will come from him, young upcoming players in our system, and free agency. I doubt we will trade for one, but you never know with Walt. Here is what i would LOVE to see as our rotation in 2007:
1. Chris Carpenter
2. Jeff Weaver
3. Anthony Reyes
4. Barry Zito or Jason Schmidt
5. Woody Williams
That’s right Woody Williams. His agent has already contacted the Cardinals about him wanting to come back and play for us. Even at age 40, he still hasn’t lost a thing. He is more of a finesse pitcher who relies on location more than overpowering stuff, sort of like Suppan and Maddux. And i am positive he is in our budget. As far as Zito or Schmidt, i am just hoping. You never know, chances are we will go after one big name pitcher who is a free agent, so why not them. Noticeably absent from my starting rotation is Adam Wainwright. I will probably have a lot of people who will comment on this and disagree with me, but after watching him become only the 2nd rookie closer to close out a World Series, and display the maturity and stuff to be a closer against the best, i am left being thankful we didn’t have Izzy out there. Don’t get me wrong, I love Izzy. I even named my cat Izzy, but he eats WAY TOO MUCH payroll ($8,750,000 in 2006 compared to Wainwright’s $327,000). I mean come on, that is a no brainer. Especially after watching Izzy blow save after save this past year. I am sure he could land somewhere, maybe we could deal him for a starter or an outfielder, but he is the one place where you could free up a TON of money.
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you out there…..