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Saturday, 8 March- Total Bull

I drove all the way up here for this?

I am currently sitting on my girlfriend's sofa, watching Fantasia, (which I totally love, by the way) and trying to determine if it was at all worth the trip. She has some sort of virus, (and judging by the level of complaining, it's apparently Ebola) so I'm mostly keeping myself company while she sleeps. I was attempting to get some sleep also, but her new kitten, who I freely admit is cute enough to charm my anger away, urinated on my leg. Needless to say, between being suddenly awakened by such an unpleasant sensation and then having to jump up and change all the bedding, this has put me in a less than charitable mood.

Worst of all is the city itself. Everywhere I go, I see Cubs fans. She lives to the southwest of the city, so you would expect more Sox fans, but no. Nothing but blue jerseys and hats. All her neighbors, the people I see on the street, the cab driver who nearly T-boned me on my way here. All Cubs fans, all smiling, all optimistic. I was wearing a Cards sweatshirt this afternoon, and when I went to pick up our dinner, all of these happy, hopeful Cubs fans wanted only to rag on my team. I have no idea how you Cardinal fans who live up this way handle it. As insufferable as it it dealing with Cubs' fans in an average year, the knowledge that their team is, in all likelihood, leaps and bounds better than our own squad makes the experience very nearly unbearable. I wonder if she would notice if I snuck out in the middle of the night...

Going into Spring Training, the Cardinal bullpen was seen as perhaps the deepest part of the entire team, particularly the right side. That has become even more true as camp has gone on, as pitchers like Jason Motte, Chris Perez, Mike Parisi, and Kyle McClellan have all been extremely impressive so far. Both Parisi and McClellan are being looked at primarily as starters, yes, but could easily fall into more of a swingman type role if needed. I'm sure neither would object to relieving if it meant breaking camp with the big club instead of riding the bus in Memphis. In addition, with Joel Pineiro looking strong in yesterday's start, the starting slots are no longer quite so prevalent.

Tyler Johnson will most likely begin the season on the Disabled List, making the left side of the bullpen a little thinner. So, with all of this in mind, I wanted to take a look at how the relief corps is shaping up this year.

Starting off with the right handers, the following players appear to have spots locked up:

Jason Isringhausen
Russ Springer
Ryan Franklin
At least one of, and possibly both, Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson

From the left side, only Randy Flores appears to have a spot guaranteed to begin the season.

If Reyes wins the 5th starter competition, then most likely Thompson and Wellemeyer end up in the bullpen. Personally, I see this as the most likely outcome. Unfortunately, that doesn't really leave a spot for any of the youngsters in camp, no matter how impressive their performance. The only real opening I see is the one opened up by Johnson's injury. Of course, if Tony chooses to carry a second lefty, we're looking at the other Flores or, most likely, Ron Villone, rather than one of the kids getting a shot.

So here's the conundrum. The Cards have seven spots open in the bullpen. I think the five righties above will all be in pen to begin the season. Randy has a spot. We have one spot left, and quite a few players available to fill it.

Right Handers

Chris Perez
Jason Motte
Kyle McClellan
Mike Parisi
Mark Worrell

Left Handers

Ron Flores
Ron Villone
Jaime Garcia (a long shot, but still a possibility)

Tyler will most likely be on the DL for only around the first month at the most, from what I've been hearing. In addition, Josh Kinney, (remember him?) is expected to go out on either a rehab assignment or extended spring training a week or two after the season begins. He should, barring any further complications, be ready right around the first of May.

So this is the question in front of us. How would you like to see the bullpen constituted to begin the season? What about when Johnson and Kinney return? Who loses their spot? To me, the way the bullpen ends up coming together is going to be just as interesting to watch as the outfield competition, and even more crowded.

Random tidbits:

Derrick Goold has a nice little blurb up about the Cardinals' middle infielders' performances so far in camp, among other things, including some of his own thoughts on the bullpen and a very cool bit about Colby from Cameron Maybin. Needless to say, if this is the level of performance we can expect from Adam 'Sleepy' Kennedy and Cesar 'Event Horizon' Izturis, it's going to be a very, very long year.

Apparently El Sid was pretty impressive in his audition the other day. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's any way in the world the Cards should consider signing him, but it's good to hear that he's apparently getting himself back at least going in the right direction. Good luck, Sid.

From the shameless free advertisement department: next Saturday, on the 15th of March, Built to Spill is playing at the Pageant. Not baseball related, I know, but I also know that at least some of the people on this board are big music fans and have similar taste to my own, so I thought I would put that out there. They're one of my personal favourites.

From that same department: Federhofer's bakery has hot cross buns for Lent. I don't know if many of you are familiar with Federhofer's, but they're one of the few remaining real old school bakeries left in the city. I've personally been going there since I was about four or five, first with my grandmother, then my mother, and now myself. This is a great, independently owned, local business, and they can always use the support. If you live in the city, you should check it out. They are located at 9005 Gravois Rd., St. Louis 63123. Unfortunately, this is just the kind of business we're running out of, and the kind that we should all be sad to see go. Sorry about this, I try to keep from getting shrill and haranguing with my own social views, but sometimes I just can't help it. Plus, their products are really, really delicious.

I went last weekend with a couple of friends to see Semi Pro. Go and see it. I know it just looks like the same movie Will Ferrell has made quite a bit lately, but that's not entirely true. Don't get me wrong, it has plenty in common with Talladega Nights and it's ilk, but Semi Pro has far more actual depth to it, far more real pathos, to go along with the standard Major League sort of plot. I liked it, and it's definitely worth the price of admission.

One last note: the Cardinals recently brought in a lefthanded knuckleballer named Joe Rogers. I personally love watching knuckleballers, and I don't think I've ever seen a lefthanded one. Needless to say, I want all of your help in e-harassing any and all members of the Cardinals organisation until Mr. Rogers is on the mound in St. Louis. If we can't be good, we can at least be entertaining.

This is the red baron, on special assignment behind enemy lines, signing off. Pray for me. All of you.