In 2008, Brandon Webb, Rich Harden, and Scott Kazmir combined to go 44-17 with an ERA of 3.01. Now they are all less likely than Miguel Tejada to earn a spot on a Major League 25-man roster, even in Kansas City. Which won't keep them from trying—they're all gunning for a big league comeback in 2013. As good as the Cardinals' pitching prospects are, and as much starting depth as they have, the name "Brandon Webb" and the word "comeback" have me yearning for the Dave Duncan era.
It's not just the Duncan successes, either, though I wouldn't mind a fully functional Brandon Webb somewhere in the 2013 rotation. It's the old Dave Duncan feeling—that sense that even if the Cardinals' rotation was a mess, it was one well-placed NRI away from being a league-average mess.
None of these guys—or Jeremy Bonderman, also mentioned in Rob Neyer's comeback round-up—has an especially good shot of cracking a roster, let alone getting the Duncan treatment. But they're interesting. I think the lack of reclamation projects is exactly what's made this offseason so tedious. Kip Wells and Ty Wigginton might be equally replacement-level, but the new braintrust is lacking that mad-scientist bent that made the weeks leading up to Spring Training so much more bearable than they usually are.
Unless you were Anthony Reyes.