On a relatively quiet Saturday on which the Paris massacre occupied our collective minds, this little St. Louis Cardinals-related nugget hit the Internet:
"If starter Mark Buehrle decides to return for another season, it would be with the Cardinals."
This piece of speculation was first reported in the Toronto Sun, the paper that had covered Buehrle for the last three years. In fact, it, along with everyone else, assumed he’d pitched his last game on October 4, a stinker of an outing in which he lasted just 2/3 of an inning in what ended up being a 12-3 loss at Tampa. That’s not how you want to go out.
Sure enough, even after Toronto manager John Gibbons left Buehrle off the Wild Card and ALDS rosters, reports surfaced that the left-hander wasn’t necessarily retiring after all. And he almost certainly wouldn’t if the St. Louis Cardinals came calling.
The question now, obviously, is should they.
Um, yeah (with a tone implying, “Well, duh.”). Buerhle will the same age as Lackey when spring training camp opens, but the former is lefthanded and what some in the business might call “crafty.” And it’s not just because he’s old. Buehrle was floating his mid-80s four-seamer up there back when he was a fresh-faced 38th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox back in 1999.
After 14 straight years of pitching at least 200 innings a season, Buerhle finally didn’t make it in 2015. That said, he did go 198 2/3.
Several other things St. Louis Cardinals fans should love about Mark Buehrle:
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
- His roots. By now, everyone should know that he’s a native. He pitched high school ball at Francis Howell North in St. Charles, and he went on to Jefferson College in Hillsboro. Even now, Buehrle’s offseason home is St. Louis. Buehrle has been coy about it, but there’s little doubt he grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan.
- His pace. Buehrle has long been regarded as the fastest-working pitcher in baseball. This will not only lead to more enjoyable game-watching experiences for St. Louis Cardinals fans, Yadier Molina won’t have to worry about baserunners. The left-hander has pitched more than 3,200 big league innings in his career. Guess how many runners have stolen a bag off him? 59. Last year, in his 198+ innings, no one did. No one.
- His personality. Buerhle is quiet with a businesslike approach to the game. As his pace suggests, he doesn’t mess around. Translation: he fits like a glove into Mike Matheney’s clubhouse.
Buerhle doesn’t have to pitch 200 innings for the St. Louis Cardinals next year. If he gives the club a good first half, super prospect Alex Reyes should be just about ready to come in and take over by then. And that’s factoring in Reyes’ 50-game ban for marijuana.
This move looks and feels right. And it won’t cost the St. Louis Cardinals much to get it done.