I thought since I addressed the starting rotation yesterday, that i would next move on to the bullpen. More specifically, before I get into bullpen blogs, I would like to talk about one member of the ’06 bullpen. I can’t say enough about Adam Wainwright. Since watching him pitch as the ace of the Memphis staff to closing out the World Series, I have been more impressed each time. The maturity, poise, and confidence he displayed throughout the post-season was immeasurable. Earlier in the season, we watched as Jason Isringhausen struggled and then went on the disabled list. Many fans were scared at who would step in. I have to be honest, I was actually relieved in a way. I was tired of us losing games we should have been winning. Hip problem or not, Izzy was clearly not the Izzy of old this past year. I started tracking blown saves, a stat I had never paid much attention to in the past. But then, slowly, Wainwright started to develop as the closer. Braden Looper and Adam were both used on occasion, as well as a few others to close out games. But with the playoffs coming, the choice was clear. Which brings me to my point today. The Clear choice for closer for the 2007 Cardinals is Wainwright over Izzy for the following reasons:
1. Salary – Adam Wainwright earned $327,000 in 2006, whereas Izzy earned $8,750,000. If Jocketty and the Cardinals are wondering where the money will come to sign a free agent, then there is your answer. Trade Izzy NOW, for an outfielder or pitcher with a lot less salary. That would free up an enormous amount of salary.
2. Wainwright’s Pitch Arsenal – Wainwright may have the best Curveball I have ever seen besides Chris Carpenter. That 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock pitch where the ball seems to be falling off of a table, is so exciting to watch. Not only that, but his fastball, and slider are WAY above average. He has a couple "go to" pitches when he is in a jam. Izzy has lost his "go to" pitch in my opinion. Very rare does a RELIEVER have the ability to throw any of his pitches at any time. Adam displayed that he can throw any pitch he throws for strikes while starting at Memphis.
3. Team Chemistry – I have been a Cardinals fan for 25 seasons now, and i have NEVER seen the fans boo a Cardinal. But on several occasions this year, while attending games, I saw the entire stadium boo and gasp in fear each time Izzy was called on….one time we had a four run lead and he still got booed coming in. Wainwright exudes confidence on the mound. And Izzy may have a lot left in him, i am just not sure it is in St. Louis.
A lot of people think that with the Cardinals losing 4/5 of their starting rotation possibly, that he will jump back to starter, and he very well may. I think that is the plan La Russa has. I am just saying he was more than a substitute in my opinion, I think he may have found his true calling.
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you out there….