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staff projection

program note: i'm flying to st louis today for a funeral on tuesday, then flying back to denver wednesday -- on account of which the posting will be kinda light for the next few days. for today, i'd like to run a variation on the community projection: project the pitching staff. which 12 pitchers will the cards take north with them to open the season? the candidates would seem to include

chris carpenter
mark mulder
jason marquis
jeff suppan
anthony reyes
sidney ponson
adam wainwright

jason is'hausen
braden looper
ricardo rincon
brad thompson
randy flores
jeff nelson
tyler johnson
carmen cali
john riedling
juan mateo
brad voyles

that's 7 starters and 11 relievers vying for 12 slots. all but one of these guys have pitched in the majors before, rule v draftee mateo being the lone exception. there has been a good deal of speculation that one of the veteran starters (marquis' name gets mentioned most often) will get traded if ponson and reyes both look good; you can factor that into your projection. conversely, it's not inconceivable that the cards would give ponson the boot, in spite of the million-dollar contract. la russa launched two free-agent signings in the spring of 2003, al levine and joey hamilton, both of whom had signed for at or near 7 figures and entered spring training as the odds-on favorites to fill the primary setup roles. the same goes for jeff nelson. as much as the cards would like to keep juan mateo around, this field looks too crowded for him to stick; he probably won't make the 25-man roster, and the cards will have to send him back to the cubs.

i think wainwright deserves a slot, but above all he needs regular work -- for which reason he may start the season back in memphis. but with a stellar spring he might make the team, pitching in the role occupied by cal eldred the last two years. rincon is signed for two years and will be on the roster no matter what.

here's my projection:

carpenter, mulder, suppan, marquis, ponson

is'hausen, looper, reyes, thompson, rincon, flores, wainwright

ty johnson; brad voyles

i would hope that reyes is starting games by july, but he may make himself so valuable as a reliever that tony and dave feel they can't move him; never know. i like voyles as a dark horse; has struck out 10 men and allowed just 6 hits per 9 innings in the minor leagues (career 2.53 era) and appears to be getting a handle on his control. if he weren't 29 years old i'd say his minor league numbers look like bobby jenks'; instead i'll liken them to matt miller's.

if my time permits, i'll tally up the results of these projections tonite and report back tomorrow morning. happy prexy's day.