Word comes from the Post-Dispatch that Chris Carpenter will be alright in as much that a "bulging cervical disc" is a promising diagnosis. After Carpenter experienced radiating pain down both arms, Cardinal Nation immediately grew angsty about the projected Opening Day starter given how Spring Training began in 2011. It was around one year ago that the Adam Wainwright left Florida to return to St. Louis after experiencing a "significant injury". That turned out to be a blown elbow ligament requiring Tommy John Surgery. While not a death knell for a pitcher's career any longer, it was a damaging blow to a team before the season had even begun.
While Cardinals' fans had been fretting about Albert Pujols contract situation, the unthinkable happened: Adam Wainwright went down for the entire season.
This is that story.
So as to remove any doubt from your mind, Wainwright is looking at Tommy John as a likely outcome. While that's not the death sentence it once was for pitchers -- in fact he's got excellent chances to make a full recovery from this type of surgery -- it does make 2011 look pretty ugly. We were in a tight race on paper with theand the and losing Wainwright probably costs us upwards of 4 wins relative to a replacement like .
Things were tense. Commenters were concerned that, with the end of the Pujols Era impending, Adam Wainwright's injury had just tanked 2011. The knives were out and as trolls from RedReporter entered the thread, along with the worst timing of a faux-authoritative "I told you so", the community showed it's grief through internet rioting, which looks a lot like spants crashing an amateur knife fight: very few people come out unscathed.
Follow the link. Read the whole thing. Re-live your grief pattern. Note the Harry Potter references as time and date demarcations.
Two things to note: (1) Someone has been paying fritz to write words for over a year now and (2) we came really close to a fritz arson spree.
Tom's promotion of prescription medication abuse in the headline aside, is full of information that is as important now as it was a year ago:
- A study that indicates 70% of pitchers return to pitch at their pre-surgery effectiveness
- A study that indicates a 93% "success" rate for Tommy John surgery among athletes in general
- A more recent study that shows 85-90% success rates due, in part, to improved surgical techniques
In the end, tom writes:
the only other thing worth noting is the spread in recovery times. [josh] johnson's < 12 month recovery time is about as good as a prognosis could be. adam [wainwright] is hitting 30 this summer, so i wouldn't wager on him reporting with pitchers and catchers ready to go in 2012. however, i am actually fairly reassured that we will see him, if not on opening day, well before the all-star break and in top form. [tim] hudson, who was far older at the time of his surgery, pitched his first major league game after his august 2008 surgery on september 1, 2009, not even 13 months after surgery (he won, in case you wondered, going 5 and 1/3 innings, allowing two runs). [jake] westbrook would represent the cautionary tale of a longer TJ recovery time.
Chris Carpenter - With the Cardinals holding a somewhat expensive ($15M) option on Chris for 2012, I'd expect the Cardinals to explore an extension with Carpenter in the near future. I don't like the idea of an extension with Carpenter (I didn't like the last one either) but I expect them to rework his contract at the end of the year. Depending on his 2011 performance, you may see them pay less for 2012 and guarantee some additional years. Chris saw his peripheral statistics take a hit last year but he was still a workhorse tossing 235 IP. The question in my mind is how long can he continue to do that?
Chris Carpenter would sign a two-year extension, overwriting the $15M option, at the team friendly rate of $21M in late September. And another one just for fun:
- Molina has been a staple of the team since 2004 but after a $7M club option for 2012, he's poised to be a free agent. I don't see him ever reaching free agency but shepherding another young pitcher through their first season would only increase the accolades he receives for his ability to handle pitchers.
There's the adage about one monkey with one typewriter and he'd create Fritz's weekly SBN St. Louis post ... wait, wrong adage. Something about enough monkeys with enough typewriters creating Shakespeare's works. The same can be said about internet bloggers and predictions.
A compelling article within a week of the demise of Adam Wainwright's article that lays out a case for Jaime Garcia's rise to prominence within the rotation. It includes some prescient notes of its own, particularly:
Even with Garcia's grounder- and strikeout-inducing ways, we should all pay attention to the lefty's walk rate this season, as his 2010 3.53 BB/9 was eighth on the team trailing Penny, Wainwright, Walters, Carpenter, Westbrook, Suppan, and Lohse. Garcia has a career walk rate of 3.61, so 2010 actually lowered his career figure. Contradictorily, Bill James foresees an uptick in Garcia's walk rate while Marcel sees it inching downward. Another year under the tutelage of Dave Duncan, who preaches throwing strikes as well as inducing groundballs, will hopefully result in a further shrinking of Garcia's walk rate in 2011. Greater improvement in his control could turn Garcia into a truly elite starting pitcher of the Cy Young variety.
Garcia dropped his walk rate over a batter an inning while maintaining his strikeout rate. Though dogged by concerns about his home/road splits, Garcia's solid sophomore season was an important element of the Cardinals 2011 success. Garcia is, himself, a former Tommy John surgery patient.
Will McClellan be more than a journeyman starter? Probably not but his track record suggests that he can successfully be at or slightly above replacement level. That's nobut it also isn't PJ Walters so I'll take what I can get.
I don't ever want to write this article again. Get well soon, Carpenter. Get well soon.