Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cardinals quietly looking for a starter?

Despite the Cardinals general belief that they have the internal pitching depth to handle any issues with their starting pitching, Joe Strauss indicates in a recent article that the Cardinals might be conducting a "low-decibel" search for another starter.

With Carlos Martinez waiting in the wings and Michael Wacha likely a candidate to return in September, the Cardinals have two strong options in AAA should one of their current starter falter.  In addition, the Cards will closely monitor Chris Carpenter progress in his rehab from his shoulder injury to determine if he is an option for the rotation.

The next 3 weeks will be an evaluation period for the Cardinals, not only to see if they need an upgrade to their current rotation of Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly, but also to see where that potential upgrade might be (either internal or external).

For his part, GM John Mozeliak indicated that he believes that the team has "sound internal options", but that he reserves the right to "re-examine things the next four weeks."

The Cardinals are already scouting players in anticipation of the trade deadline, with Adam McCalvy reporting that the team had a scout at the Mets/Brewers game this afternoon.  Who the scout was looking at is unclear, but its unlikely that is was any of the Brewers players (the Cards are adverse to trading within the division).

What is also unclear is whether the Cardinals could really find a pitcher that is clearly better than their internal option on the trade market.  Matt Garza would probably qualify, but, as I said before, the Cards are unlikely to trade within their own division.  

Bud Norris has pitched well this year, but is probably no better than a 4th or 5th starter on a contending team.  Is he really a step up from Joe Kelly (or Wacha or Martinez)?

In addition, after recent struggles, Shelby Miller, Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn each turned in strong performances their last times out, helping to alleviate concerns. 

So, while the Cardinals may be quietly checking out the starting pitching market, its probably more of a passive than an active search.  They will check and scout all of the external options and see what the asking prices are.  If there is a starter out there that could be had for cheap and is a clear upgrade to what they have (both in the majors and minors), they could make a move. 

However, its more likely they'll stick with what they've got.

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