As you, our readers, have probably figured out, Redbird Rants is not a one-man show. We are a team of passionate Cardinals fans dedicated to bringing you our opinions about the on and off-field happenings of our favorite team. With that in mind, today we are starting a new feature called the Redbird Roundtable. In each Roundtable, there will be multiple questions asked about a singular theme. Our team of writers will give their individual answers on the topic. We encourage to leave your answers in the comment section.
Our first topic deals with one of the best pitching prospects the Cardinals organization has seen since Rick Ankiel. Shelby Miller has already ranked in most publications’ top ten prospects and has shown why with staggering strikeout numbers. This season, though, he experienced a few issues with home runs and walks. Shelby Miller is the topic of this first meeting of the Redbird Roundtable.
- There is a rumor that Shelby will be called up in September. Do you think he should get the call? If so, how many starts do you think he gets down the stretch? If not, explain why.
David: I think Shelby should get the call. In his last 48 and a third innings, he has only walked four batters while striking out 57. While he has had a bit of a rocky year, he’s been fantastic lately and I think a taste of the Major Leagues would serve him well. If he is called up, I would only give him one start down the stretch. He is almost at the same number of innings that he pitched last year, so resting him a little may not be the worst idea in the world. I would regulate him to a middle reliever/mop up pitcher in the bullpen for the rest of the season.
James: I’m not sure how he would be utilized, but the recent struggles of Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn could necessitate the Cardinals making some kind of move. I’m in favor of it. I just don’t want it to turn into a Joba Chamberlain-like situation, where he is used as a reliever for the time being and later as a starter. I’d say he probably gets a few starts to showcase his wares, and the Redbirds choose between him, Kelly, and Lynn for final post-season starter.
Freddie: I don’t think we’ll see him unless there’s another unforeseen injury. I think he recovered nicely in Memphis but, I think any lapse in performance in the bigs would affect his confidence.
Justin: With Mike Matheny saying we can expect “quite a few pitchers,” I think he gets the call. Especially with the struggles of Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly, the injury to Jaime Garcia, and Wainwright battling back, there are plenty of opportunities for some of the young guys to get starts. I can easily see him getting 3-4 starts in September.
- There was a lot of trade talk this season involving Shelby’s availability. Do you think trading Shelby is an option the Cardinals should be looking into? What kind of return would you expect?
James: I think his value is pretty low right now considering the fact that he has struggled at times this season in A-ball. However, if traded, I’d expect a pretty decent return, considering how high the Cardinals drafted him. I don’t think anyone is irreplaceable other than the obvious starters. I’d like to see Kolten Wong and other position players get a shot too.
Freddie: No, we should keep him as he’s too close to being major league ready. Unless its for a bonafide star who will help us for years to come.
Justin: I definitely think they should take calls. Shelby has a ton of upside, for sure, but that means he could yield a big return. If he gets called up and has a great September, he only increases his trade value. With Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha, and Tyrell Jenkins all looking to join the big league team eventually, someone will get booted from the rotation. If you can take one of the pitchers and swing him for an improvement somewhere else on the team, you have to look at that option. Out of all the young arms, Miller would earn the biggest return.
David: Personally, I believe Shelby is untouchable. Even in his struggles, I think his upside incredibly high. If paired up with a catcher like Yadier Molina and placed under the leadership of veterans like Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, I think he could end up becoming one of the top 5 pitchers in the National League. His stuff is electric and he has the potential to be the future ace of the team. If the Cardinals were to trade him, they would have to get an all-star back in return for him. Call me crazy, but packaging him with other prospects in a trade for someone like Felix Hernandez would just about be the only acceptable move I would be satisfied with.
- Let’s say Shelby survives the off-season without getting traded. Do you think he makes the rotation next season out of spring training? If so, what are your expectations for his first season?
Justin: I don’t think he makes the rotation right out of Spring Training just because of his early season struggles this year. If he has an absolutely electric spring, though, he could conceivably earn a spot. I think the smart move is to send him to AAA for a couple of starts just to make sure he is over his control and meatball issues. If he does make the team, I don’t think he’s going to be a Justin Verlander type right away. He has a power arm, but obviously struggles a bit with control and appears to have some mental makeup issues. I think his closest comparable for his first few seasons will be Max Scherzer. Miller has a lot of upside potential, but the St Louis fans need to have some patience and not expect Cy Young caliber performance right out of the gates.
James: I think it may be another year in A-ball for Miller, though there is a chance he makes the rotation with a strong showing in the Spring. My expectations for him as a major league starter is about the same as what Lance Lynn performed like at the beginning of the season. I’d also expect, like Lynn, some late-season regression.
Freddie: I think he makes the rotation. I think Joe is a fantastic pitcher but, better from the bullpen. And Shelby could use the experience and tutelage of Carp, Waino and Westbrook.
David: If Chris Carpenter is healthy, then Shelby Miller will be competing with Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn, and Jake Westbrook for the fourth and fifth spot in the rotation. Obviously with his new contract, it seems as though Westbrook is a lock for the rotation but some of us are not sold on his future with the team. I’ve been against the extension, even though it was only an additional year, since it was signed. He can’t really be counted on for his consistency and he will really only be viewed as a safety net if Carpenter isn’t healthy. With that being said, I would give Shelby a chance to make the rotation out of spring training. He’s still the top prospect in the organization and should be given a fair chance to prove himself. In his first season, I believe he could finish the year at the top of the Rookie of the Year balloting.
- If you don’t think he makes the team out of spring training, when do you think Shelby joins the rotation?
James: If the St. Louis Cardinals brass thinks it’s too soon to bring Miller up just yet, I think by the middle of next season. Perhaps after next year’s All-Star break would be ideal.
Justin: I think he’ll hit the rotation around mid-May or June. It all depends on the other pitchers’ performances, injuries, and, of course, if Chris Carpenter can return.
David: If Shelby ends up beginning the 2013 season in Triple-A, I would predict a call-up sometime in mid-May. Whether it’s an injury to another starter or struggles, I don’t believe he will be spending much time in Memphis in the year 2013.
- The Cardinals currently have Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, and Jake Westbrook under contract for next season. Carp’s health is still up in the air, so there is the possibility of two roster spots. We’ve seen the emergence of Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly this season. Between those two, Miller, and other prospects like Trevor Rosenthal, Brandon Dickson, and John Gaub, who makes the rotation and who gets squeezed out?
James: I’d say that I expect the rotation to look much the same to start next season. I think there is a strong possibility that Lane Lynn gets first consideration given his performance in the first half of this year. I think Rosenthal is best served in the pen, as well as Dickson. Gaub and Kelly are interesting, and especially worth a look if they can control their pitches and find the zone at a more consistent rate. Ideally, Carpenter, Waino, Garcia, Westbrook, and Lynn would be the names for the rotation. If not, I think Kelly is next in line.
Justin: Wainwright, Garcia, and Westbrook are the only locks in my opinion. Carpenter will need to prove that he is healthy and I think Kelly will have a leg up on Lynn. Lynn came out red hot to start the season, but tapered late. I think he will get a second chance to start, but will need to win the role. If only one spot in the rotation is available, I think the true battle is between Kelly and Lynn. If Carpenter is unavailable, though, things get really interesting. I think Rosenthal and the loser of the Kelly/Lynn battle are the only pitchers that have a shot at the bullpen. Dickson has shown he doesn’t have the moxie to be a relief pitcher, and Miller and Gaub are wastes in the bullpen. I think the team likes Rosenthal’s poise and values him more as a potential late-inning reliever than a back of the rotation starter.
David: Lance Lynn has proven that he can pitch as a starter in the Major Leagues. His attitude is also somewhat of an attractive item. He has the potential to be a Chris Carpenter-like pitcher; not necessarily a Cy Young winner or an All-Star, but a leader and a bulldog on the mound. Joe Kelly has been the model of consistency since joining the rotation. His future is most likely in the rotation. Whether that’s with the Cardinals is a different story. I think it’s a very good possibility that Joe Kelly is traded sometime next season. The same can be said for Jake Westbrook. I don’t see Jake Westbrook remaining a Cardinal throughout the 2013 season. Brandon Dickson is a Quad-A pitcher and will never be a fixture in the rotation. IF he plans on remaining with St. Louis, he will be nothing more than a long reliever. John Gast profiles as a lefty specialist. I think he would fit perfectly in the Cardinals bullpen in the 7th or 8th inning next season facing some tough lefty hitters. I think Trevor Rosenthal has a lot of upside, but if he is to remain with the Cardinals, then he may end up spending a significant amount of time in the bullpen. He has a plus fastball and a decent slider so a setup role would suit him well. He has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, but if he is to achieve that, then he may be dealt at some point in his career as well. I believe Shelby Miller will be the fifth starter at some point next season and end up climbing the spots in the rotation as the years go on.
Freddie: I think Kelly, Miller and Lynn make the roster; no question in my mind.
What do you think? Is Shelby a future All-Star, a trade candidate, or a bust? Let us know your answers to the Roundtable questions in the comments.