Not to jinx Joe Kelly's big-league debut, but with Jaime out for at least two months and no end in sight for Jake Westbrook's slump, the Cardinals will probably need to bring in a ringer to stabilize the rotation. Ken Rosenthal (via MLB Trade Rumors) named one option, the Dbacks' Joe Saunders. Who else might the Cards go after? Some possible candidates after the jump, in no partic'r order ---- I'm not necessarily endorsing any of these guys, just taking stock of some options:
Let's start with Saunders, who will turn 31 next week and throws left. Lot to recommend him: he's durable, doesn't walk many, keeps the ball on the ground, eats innings. He's a pending free agent, ergo may not be too terribly costly. Big red flag, though: his fastball velocity is down for a second straight year. He's now averaging just 88.5 mph, which leaves almost no margin for error on location.
The Rockies' Jeremy Guthrie has an ERA of almost 9 at Coors field but 4.23 in his 5 road starts. Not a compelling player at all, but he's topped 2.0 WAR in four of the last five years, and the Rockies would probably give him away for a bag of balls. The bar's pretty low here; we just want somebody to provide short-term stability. Guthrie clears that bar.
Like Guthrie, Bruce Chen is nothing special but he's capable of providing reliable innings. He currently sports a 3.50 FIP for 2012 and has averaged about 1.5 WAR a year going back to 2010. The Royals have Chen signed through 2013 to a very team-friendly contract; that probably makes him more valuable to KC than to the Cards.
The Athletics signed Bartolo Colon for one reason only: to dump him at midseason to a team like the Cardinals. He's 39 years old but can still get it up there at 90 mph; his FIP is a close match for his ERA (as it was last year when Colon was worth 2.9 WAR). Pretty attractive candidate, but the A's will want good prospects in return.
The same groin injury that forced Kevin Millwood to leave a no-hitter in progress may land him on the DL. If not for that he'd be a pretty decent target. His FIP/xFIP numbers are models of consistency over the last half-dozen years, and his velocity is still good at age 37; since the beginning of 2011 (a span of 21 starts) he has a 2.4 K/BB ratio and a 3.74 ERA. Injury probably disqualifies him as a candidate.
Finally there's Wandy Rodriguez, who is pitching well and signed through 2013. Given that Houston is leaving the NL after this year, the usual intra-divisional caveats probably don't apply. And Jeff Luhnow might be susceptible to an offer that includes some of his prized Cardinal draftees. Even so, it would have to be a pretty big package . . . . .