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sorting out the pen

no post tomorrow, just a light one today. i want to follow up on the solid posts about the bullpen that azruavatar and houstoncard have done in the last few days with this simple question: who's gonna be in the cardinal 'pen in 2008? this is the only part of the team with any stability; also the one with the most immediate help available. here's the current set of options --- holdovers on the left, reinforcements on the right:

izzy perez
franklin kinney
springer worrell
wellemeyer motte
thompson boggs
ra flores ro flores
t johnson politte

at least some of the guys from column B are gonna end up in column A by the end of the season, and possibly sooner. worrell strikes me as a guy who should be given every chance to make the team out of spring training; he passed the triple A test last year and was particularly hard on right-handers, holding them (per Minor League Splits) to a .206 / .271 / .356 line in 160 at-bats. this guy does not throw particularly hard, but he's got a very funky motion and (they say) a wicked slider. the cardinals have added him to the 40-man; i'd a lot rather see what he can do in middle relief than stick w/ a known but limited quantity like brad thompson.

perez was flat-out unhittable last year, holding double A / triple A competition to a .131 average in 55 innings. he had a rough autumn with Team USA, but if he shows he can find the plate next spring he's a good candidate to go north with the club or join it before memorial day. motte, who didn't start pitching until mid-2006, probably needs a whole year at triple A, but he did very well in the arizona fall league and his line at double A last year was nearly as dominant as perez's. both of those guys should be in st louis by september, if not sooner. boggs also impressed in the az fall league, in part because the short outings (~50 pitches) allowed him to flash a more potent fastball. his readings on the gun led some scouts to start envisioning him as a relief pitcher.

a darkhorse candidate might be mike parisi, a fifth-starter candidate who could pitch his way into a bullpen apprenticeship (as wainwright did back in 2006). and then there are kinney politte and flores, all of whom already have been stamped with the big-league brand and could be just one good spring away from joining the bullpen.

how to make room for all these guys? first, move ryan franklin to the rotation; there's a knee-jerk reaction against this idea because he had awful w-l records with the mariners, but (as i've argued ad nauseum) his peripherals suggest he's about as good as the suppan class of innings-eating pitcher. second, get rid of thompson; he's only got one big-league pitch, and the hitters have solved it. third, look to trade izzy and/or springer at midseason if the team isn't well-positioned for a run. neither one wants to leave st louis and izzy has veto power, but i can imagine him agreeing to leave a dead-end team for a short-term assignment with a contender and another shot to pitch in the world series.

so i've got the team opening the season with worrell and one of the vets (politte kinney or ron flores) in the bullpen; wellemeyer springer and the lefties share the setup role, and perez joins them (or displaces one of them) after a little more seasoning at triple A. here's my opening-day staff:

rotation pen
wainwright izzy
looper springer
pineiro wellemeyer
franklin worrell
mulder / reyes /
colon / whoever
ra flores
ro flores
t johnson

safe travels to all of those who are on the move for the holidays; peace and joy to everyone.