As a Co-Community Leader for the St. Louis Cardinals with high school friend Peter Fleischer, we have decided to start up a weekly roundtable discussion. This week we will feature three questions, and the panel includes Fleischer, Derek Coffelt, and myself.
It's week one, so we're just giving it our first crack at it, give us some tips if you have any.
1) With the plethora of Cardinals pitchers on the DL, what is your solution to this problem?
2) Who would you say are the top three candidates for Cardinals' MVP thus far in the season?
3) Who deserves it more: Albert Pujols as a starter or Ryan Ludwick as a reserve?
1) With Joel Pineiro coming back relatively soon, and Todd Wellemeyer also rejoining the club this week, I think the Cardinals should be looking much better.
That said, losing staff ace Adam Wainwright for reportedly up to a month is a killer to the rotation. If our young "Memphis Mafia" can continue to preserve games out of the bullpen, I believe we can weather the storm.
2) I would have to go Albert Pujols, Ryan Ludwick, and Yadier Molina, in that order.
Albert is having a tremendous year, flying somewhat under the radar due to the success of Atlanta's Chipper Jones and Houston's Lance Berkman. But when he is healthy, Pujols is one of the finest players in the game.
Ludwick is having an amazing season, but without Albert he wouldn't be seeing any of those pitches. Lastly, it makes me cringe thinking that Jason LaRue would be starting for us at catcher if Yadi got hurt (LaRue is hitting a .173).
3) I think Ludwick deserves the nod here. Pujols is an All-Star every year it seems, so Ludwick should at least get the recognition he deserves as one of the hottest outfield bats in the NL this season.
1) There are two ways I take this question. Right now, there aren't enough healthy pitchers. BUT, with Wellemeyer to return this weekend, the rotation will be similar to the one that started the season.
Although they can never recover the quality that they lose in Adam Wainwright, four starters from the beginning of the season will be taking the mound. Boggs' start was encouraging on Tuesday night, and between Boggs, Anthony Reyes, Jaime Garcia, Brad Thompson, or even Double-A stud Jesse Todd, a fifth starter will be found until Wainwright's back.
Now if you mean what to do when the starters get healthy, I would selectively deal arms. Braden Looper? Gone. Anthony Reyes, definitely gone. Brad Thompson, gone if possible. I'm assuming Mulder doesn't come back, but ideally I'd like a rotation of Carpenter, Wainwright, Wellemeyer, Lohse, and either Piñero or Clement (deal the other).
2) I'd say Albert Pujols, Yadi Molina, and Kyle McClellan.
Albert is Albert. Period. Without him, Ludwick, Ankiel, Glaus, everybody's numbers would be down. Yadi has handled a relatively new pitching staff, along with a handful of rookies this season, and done marvelously. He's hitting almost .300, and has picked off/thrown out his usual amount of runners.
Besides that, he's also almost kicked Brandon Backe's ass, which would have been awesome, and thrown a hilarious tantrum after being tossed from a game.
McClellan's holds speak for themselves, and he has a fantastic ERA in some crucial middle innings thus far. Molina has handled a makeshift pitching staff through almost 70 games this season.
3) Albert Pujols wins the team MVP. Period. Ludwick probably isn't in my top five. Pujols' hitting, defense, leadership, poise, (pretty much everything he does), helps the team.
We'll see how the Cards rebound with him on the shelf, but if they play well, I wouldn't be surprised if it's because Albert's the team's biggest cheerleader in the dugout.
3) Continuing to promote Ludwick, I believe he deserves the reserve role more than Albert Pujols as a starter. Even though Pujols is a perennial All-Star, Lance Berkman will probably win that spot.