Despite the offense's woes early on, I really believe the Card's chances this season hinge on having Carpenter healthy, especially in the fall when the games will take on more urgency.
If Carpenter's out for anything longer than a couple of months, perhaps it would be better for the organization to shift focus to a youth movement. I've enjoyed watching Rolen, Edmonds, Izzy and Eckstein a great deal, but I think the truth is that they'll provide less and less support for Pujols, Carpenter and co. from here on out.
I'd rather see the Cardinals take a hit in the short term and reload for 2008 or 2009. Outside of Rasmus, Hawkesworth and possibly Jay, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot on the farm that can replace what we have now. I'm talking about an equitable replacement--not simply a stopgap. Rasmus would fit as he probably be a better overall player in 2008 or 2009 than Edmonds. Hawkesworth might be as good or better than our incumbent #4 starter by then, too. But beyond the 3 minor leaguers mentioned above, I don't think we have impact players at AA or higher.
I'd hate to see the old guard go, but maybe they would bring something good in return. Healthy versions of Rolen, Izzy and Eckstein would probably fetch a few prospects. With Edmonds, there is probably more room for doubt as he's simply so brittle. I won't venture any specific ideas as to what those players would bring, but I definitely think this idea is something that Walt and co. should consider if it's looking like we have no shot this year.