Cardinal News – Time To Wake Up

Like Hooks mentioned yesterday, we’ve been kind of dicking around for a while when it comes to writing about the Cardinals. But after the initial rush of spring training, Mac Wire interviews, and Flip Lopez signing…what has there been to talk about?

Holliday rib injury? Meh.

Bert’s creeky old back? Talk to me in June when he’s got 25 jacks already.

Fifth starter? Third base? Valid questions/concerns, but neither of those things will kill a 2010 playoff run in April or May. And the Cardinals at least have capable guys to plug into those spots, it’s not like Pedro Martinez is a must-sign right now (even though that’d be awesome).

So moral of the story? Dicking around is a lot more fun.

But yesterday – shit actually happened. An almost mid-season lineup started the game (including Albert and Holliday) and ended up beating the Orioles 4-2 (this is extremely misleading because Matt Wieters was on the bench for the O’s, thus wasn’t able to crush Rich Hill’s 85 mph heater into orbit).

pujolsFirst, the good news: Albert Pujols is appearing in an upcoming Got Milk? print ad. I still don’t have my box of Wheaties FUEL, so this is extra motivation to be like Bert by eating a nutritious breakfast, then dominating my opponents on 270 and 40 every morning at 8:45. More importantly, where can I get that poster, because that’s the most badass thing I’ve ever seen.

Next the interesting news: Jaime Garcia looks like he’s locked up the fifth starter spot. Some proactive writer usually points out how many starts the 5th man is projected to get early on, but I haven’t seen it yet, so here goes. It looks like the Cardinals wouldn’t technically need the fifth starter to go until April 20, the 14th game of the season. Now it would be completely silly to unleash Wainwright and Carpenter out of the gate for 7 or 8 innings every fifth day, so you’ve got to figure Garcia won’t get set aside for that long. But he’d almost have to be on some kind of pitch count or innings limit for the first month or two. He only threw about 40 minor league innings last year, there’s no need to Dusty Baker-ize the kid so soon after Tommy John surgery. If Garcia is dealt with carefully, and ends up showing some of the talent that was talked about so much in 2008, this could be a scary good rotation. We might even convince that Giants guy by June.

Side note – I really wanted to see Rich Hill succeed. Hopefully he takes a minor league assignment to see if he can work out the kinks and be useful to the Cardinals in 2010. If not, it’s pretty sad to see young pitchers just fizzle out after a couple years. I’m all for Garcia pitching in the bigs this year, but it’s too bad Hill didn’t make the decision a little harder.

And now the bad news (if you’re a female, I’m sure you know already know this): Yadi strained his right oblique yesterday while sliding into second base, so his status for April 5th in Cincy is up in the air. I believe the bigger news is that this is the first time that a Molina has proven that they have anything other than beef and Twinkies inside their body, let alone muscular tissue. I’m almost putting this into the “Meh” category as well, but oblique injuries aren’t usually shaken off too easily. I hope Bryan Anderson or Matt Pagnozzi don’t get any false hope about making the 25-man at the start of the season. I’ve had them for six years already on my Triple-A fantasy team, and I’m really counting on their outstanding production for a seventh championship.

Overall, the injuries are a little concerning though. Hopefully it’s more coincidence than trend for the rest of the year. Maybe if Tim Tebow could say a little prayer to big baby Jesus for us, everything will turn out alright.