The bad news on the injury front for St. Louis Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright officially became worse news a little while ago, as Wainwright will be undergoing Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2011 season.
While you never want to see injury on anyone (unless you are Jonny Gomes), you would have to think that this will have a dramatic impact on the Cardinals’ season this year. They already have the Albert Pujols soap opera hanging over their heads as a distraction sure to get messy with the “will he stay or will he go” questions being asked literally every single day of this season. But now, losing a 20 game winner from last year who has gone 50-22 over the last three years will be tough to overcome.
Chris Carpenter will anchor the rotation, back to full speed from injury himself to go 16-9 for the Cards last year, followed by the very impressive Jaime Garcia, a rookie last year who went 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA. After that though, it gets sketchy. Jake Westbrook would be their third best starter, with his 10-11 record and 4.22 ERA followed by Kyle Lohse, coming off of a 4-8, 6.55 ERA season.
And the battle for the 5th spot in the rotation now has a former Bucco as a strong contender. As most of you are aware, Ian Snell is now a Cardinal, coming over after struggling with Seattle last year (0-5, 6.41 ERA) and having the Mariners DFA him, turning down his 2011 and 2012 club options that Neal Huntington signed him to as a Pirate in the process. Somehow, this guy still managed to get two years and $8 million in his bank account thanks to Huntington. No truth to the rumor that Mr. Change-my-surname-from-Snell-to-Oquendo-to-Davila-Snell-back-to-just-plain-Snell named his first born child ‘Neal’ as a showing a gratitude.
Anyway, can the magic of Dave Duncan turn the once promising Ian Oquendo Snell into the pitcher that so many of us Pirate fans hoped he’d turn into? Like when he struck out 13 guys in a row (and 17 in 7 innings) after getting sent down to Indy by the Pirates? The Cardinals look to find out this spring, and there certainly is competition for the spot such as reliever turned starter Kyle McClellan and free agent options such as Kevin Milwood. But Snell has what very could be his last opportunity to break into a big league rotation. After all, if he can’t do it with Dave Duncan, who can he do it with?