What has been dubbed by many onlookers as the "Kip Wells Experiment" has not panned out this season. With Anthony Reyes "finding himself" at AAA and both Mulder and Carpenter on the DL, what do Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan do about Kip Wells?
There has been a lot of talk about possible scenarios regarding maligned starter Kip Wells. Below are some hypothetical decisions:
- Send Kip Wells to the bullpen and let Ryan Franklin start. Despite a rocky outing in Sunday afternoon's game, Franklin's numbers out of the bullpen have been outstanding. His ERA is 1.50 and he has an extremely low WHIP, 0.833. With only 3 walks and 12 strikeouts in 24 innings pitch, his control has been outstanding. But, is Franklin's success attributed to the fact that hitters only see him once, twice at the most? You have to wonder. His numbers as a starter are less than stellar. In his four seasons starting in Seattle, Franklin went 30 and 53 with an ERA that bounced between 3.57 and 5.10. Franklin may be fooling hitters out of the bullpen, but you have to question his effectiveness facing hitters 2, 3, or even 4 times in a game. That being said, Franklin's numbers are better than Wells' numbers as a starter. I'd take Franklin over Wells any day of the week, whether it be past, present, or future. But sadly, it's not up to me.
- Keep him in the rotation, his luck is bound to turn. Let me start out by saying that I think this is what LaRussa and Duncan will (or have to) do with Kip. Consider first that the Cardinals have a decent amount of money tied up in Kip Wells (just over $4 million for this year). Many like to compare Kip Wells to Sidney Ponson. The Cards pulled the plug on Ponson rather early, why is Kip Wells still around. The answer lies in the almighty dollar. Ponson wasn't making nearly as much as Kip Wells is. DeWitt had no qualms about eating the salary owed to Ponson. Wells' $4 million is a little less digestible. Even more, the Cardinals don't seem to have any starting pitchers waiting in the wings. Reyes is just as up and down as Wells and no one at AAA is healthy enough or experienced enough to merit a big-league start. As far as Wells luck turning, don't count on it. He'll put up a few more stellar starts, the Cardinals will outslug opponents in a few games, and Wells might win 7 or so games this year, but he's not the viable 2nd starter he was advertised as.
- Release him. Refer to the previous section where I mentioned the salary owed to Wells. I don't see DeWitt eating the $4 million owed to Kip. If Wells is still struggling when Carpenter and Mulder (finally) return, I can see this as sort-of an option if DeWitt will eat the salary.
- Try to trade him for prospects or cash. I don't see any team in need of a "sometimes good, often horrible" starting pitcher. Right now Wells is performing like an underachieving 5th starter. It's hard to fathom any general manager giving up legitimate minor-league talent for Wells. If Carpenter and/or Mulder return and Wells is still pitching like this, Jocketty should pull the trigger on any deals that would get the Cardinals anything at all for Wells. After all, I don't think we're going to re-sign this guy, so we might as well get something in return for him.