I went to my first Cardinals home game of the 2012 season yesterday. Unfortunately, it was not a winner. The game was the third start for Adam Wainwright after coming off of Tommy John surgery. Though this start in some regards was better than his previous start against the Cubs last week, Wainwright is still struggling with command and velocity. This is not unusual for any pitcher who has been through TJ surgery.
As was so aptly pointed out by Chris Carelli in his post this morning, Cardinals fans have become spoiled by the success of Wainwright. As a result, there appears to be some impatience, and in some cases, just plain ignorance on the part of some fans with regard to Wainwright. The season is young and the Cardinals are off to a great start, but yet some fans are ready to throw Wainwright under the bus after 3 starts. I have seen some suggest that he be removed from the rotation and sent to the minors to work on his pitching. Aside from what seems to me an obvious signal to Wainwright that the team lacks confidence in him, this suggestion also begs the question, who would replace him in the rotation? The Cardinals have already had to replace Chris Carpenter with Lance Lynn, who is left to take up the slack? The only pitcher not already in the rotation on the current 25 man roster with starting experience is Kyle McClellan, and in my opinion, he is better suited as a reliever. On the 40 man, the Cardinals have Brandon Dickson, but does his performance dictate he be given a starting rotation spot? I would hesitate to do it. Shelby Miller is not on the 40 man roster and is not exactly tearing it up in Memphis right now, so remember that before you jump on that bandwagon. As I see it, there simply is not an obvious replacement choice at the present moment.
In my opinion, it is just too soon to hit the panic button on Wainwright. If his pitching doesn’t improve over the next several starts, this issue might need to be revisited, but at the present moment, let’s give the guy a break. I think he more than deserves it after what he has given to this team. If it gets to the point where his place in the rotation is clearly hurting the team, I think Wainwright would be the first person to agree a change needs to be made. Until then, fans need to chill out and enjoy the great start the Cardinals are having. And, if you are on Twitter, please remember that the whole world can see you before you tweet something ridiculous and hurtful.
On another note, I was sitting five rows behind the Cardinal dugout yesterday when Jon Jay went splat with the center field wall. A collective groan was heard all around me, including I suspect, from the dugout. No decision on Jay’s injury has been made yet, but even in the short term, Jay will need to be replaced in center field. Skip Schumaker has been activated as of today. Personally, I don’t like the idea of Schumaker in CF. After all, Skip has little experience in center, having only made two starts in that position last season. I would much rather put Shane Robinson there in the short term, and if a trip to the DL for Jay is in the offing, then there are other options to consider. Carlos Beltran can be moved to center, or the possibility exists to bring up Adron Chambers from Memphis. Chambers is only hitting . 230 at the present moment in Memphis, but it is early in the season, and hopefully Jay’s tenure on the DL will not exceed 15 days. Chambers is much more adept defensively in center, a position which requires speed and agility. If we want to adequately replace Jay there, defensive ability as well as hitting must be taken into account.
Speaking of roster moves, the recent re-aggravation of Lance Berkman‘s calf injury and his placement on the DL has caused some speculation on the idea of bringing up Matt Adams as a replacement. Let’s nip that in the bud right here. Adams is not on the 40 man roster, and that roster is currently full. To put Adams on that roster, another player would have to be removed. Removal of a player from the 40 man roster, other than to place the player on the 60 day DL, places that player at risk of being lost to waivers. The suggestion has been made of placing injured starter Chris Carpenter on the 60 day DL to make room, but the logical question to be asked then is what happens when you take Carpenter off the DL? If you remove Adams, he will surely be lost in waivers. These types of moves have to be given serious consideration and can’t be made on a whim. Future considerations must be carefully thought out and planned for. There are adequate first base options already on the roster, such as Matt Carpenter, who is already doing a perfectly acceptable job there now. He can be spelled occasionally by Daniel Descalso, and even Yadier Molina for a couple of innings if necessary. When Allen Craig comes back, he also can play at first base. There is no need for Adams on the roster right now.
The Cardinals are playing well and are in first place in the division with a record of 9-4. They are currently the only team in the NL Central playing above five hundred. This is good, Cardinals fans, so why all the angst? Relax, enjoy, and step away from the ledge.