3 Reasons Chris Carpenter Missing 2013 Won't Sink the Cardinals' Ship

Jeff Sucher@jeffsucherContributor IIIFebruary 6, 2013

3 Reasons Chris Carpenter Missing 2013 Won't Sink the Cardinals' Ship

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    With the news coming down today that Chris Carpenter will likely miss the entire 2013 season, the Cardinals rotation suffered a major setback.

    It was expected that Carpenter would return to form in 2013 and be a co-anchor with Adam Wainwright. This latest setback will most likely end Carpenter's career

    With Carpenter being lost, the Cardinals are going to have to replace an expected 15-18 wins in the rotation.  It is a good thing the current Cardinal roster is filled with the talent to possibly fill those shoes.

    In addition to quality starting-pitching talent lining the roster, the Cardinals could also look to free agency to fill the void left by Carpenter.

    One thing is certain, John Mozeliak is already evaluating all his options—with his track record of success, chances are he'll makes the right call.

    The Cardinals organization, the fans and baseball in general will miss Chris Carpenter.  When healthy, Chris Carpenter's stuff is as good as anyone in the majors.  But it's not looking good that he'll make it back to the mound again.

    If this was it for Carpenter, it was a good ride.  Three All-Star appearances, a Cy Young and playoff dominance, including his Game 5 gem in the 2011 NLDS, will shape his legacy.

    All that said, here are three reasons things will be just fine without Chris Carpenter in the rotation.

Built-in Talent

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    The Cardinals are blessed with a plethora of arms at the moment.  Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal were all expected to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation for 2013.

    Now the Cardinals have to decide whether they want to use in-house talent to fill the hole left by Carpenter.

    Bernie Miklasz of The St. Louis Post-Disptach tweeted the Cards knew the Carpenter situation may arise, but is happy with the talent already in-house.

    Mozeliak: "We certainly knew this was a possibility." Says they are pleased with stockpile of young arms

    — Bernie Miklasz (@miklasz) February 5, 2013

     

    Each of the above mentioned pitchers has tasted some success at the big-league level.  But none is a seasoned veteran, which is what the Cardinals will lack without Carpenter.  Adam Wainwright now stands alone as the ace of the Cardinals.

    It is almost a given, with today's news, that Lance Lynn will have a spot in the rotation.  It will be expected that he can produce somewhere between the 15-18 wins that Carpenter would have given the Cardinals.

    Being that there are now two spots to fill, it is likely the Cardinals will look long and hard at Miller, Kelly and Rosenthal.  My gut tells me Miller will be the guy, based on his performance in September last season and his high draft-pick status.

    Also, Miller has been touted as the Cardinals best prospect for many years, so he'll be given every opportunity to succeed and take the open spot.

    Spring training will be exciting this year to see who steps up and grasps the opportunity now at hand.

Free Agency Possibilities

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    No one enjoyed hearing the news of Chris Carpenter's injury today.  But many have speculated that Kyle Lohse is back in play to possibly replace Carpenter.

    Bernie Miklasz of The St. Louis Post-Disptach tweeted that the Cardinals are comfortable where they are, but haven't ruled out Kyle Lohse.

    As for Lohse returning to Cards, Mozeliak: "We're comfortable with what we have." But didn't rule out discussing Lohse as possibility

    — Bernie Miklasz (@miklasz) February 5, 2013

    It makes sense to bring back Lohse on a two or three year deal.  Unfortunately, Lohse is a Scott Boras client—Boras' clients never come cheap on years or salary.

    Along with Kyle Lohse, Derek Lowe is still available, as is Roy Oswalt, who the Cardinals kicked the tires on last year at about this time.  None of these guys, nor any of the other free agent starting pitching, overly excite me.  

    But Lohse, Lowe and Oswalt have all had sustained success at the big-league level and that can be hard to replace.

    So while free agency is a viable option, it may not be the way the Cardinals go to replace Carpenter.

Been There, Done That

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    Last season, the Cardinals found out during spring training that Chris Carpenter would miss time due to an injury. So today's news is really old hat for the Cardinals.  

    No team has a true plug-and-play option when an ace goes down, but the Cardinals found a way last year to push through.

    In fact, they pushed through to the point of a playoff berth, without much help from Carpenter at all. Remember, Carpenter only made three starts before the postseason.

    Lance Lynn stepped into the rotation to replace Carpenter last season.  While he had an up and down season, he did make the All-Star team and won 18 games.  Not bad numbers for a guy having to replace a Cy Young winner.

    This season will be no different.  The Cardinals will expect whoever gets the ball every fifth day, instead of Carpenter, to produce.  

    Whether or not Carpenter's replacement can produce a typical Carpenter-like season remains to be seen. But it is entirely possible, and frankly, expected, that whoever takes Carp's spot will win 15-plus games.  

    If the Cardinals are going to make another postseason run, they will need solid starting pitching to make it happen.  That is no big secret.  

    The Cardinals know they can count on Wainwright and to some degree Westbrook and Garcia.

    Now, someone will get their chance to fill Carpenter's shoes.  Big shoes to fill, but the Cardinals have the talent ready to step up and make it happen.  

    Whether its Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal or even a free agent addition, I think the Cardinals rotation is in good shape to start 2013.

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