Fantasy GM time – inspired by the Cardinals Bullpen.
The Cardinals bullpen has been completely run down. I mentioned earlier in the season that this would happen since none of their starters were going deep into games. As the starters have gotten better, the bullpen has been taxed.
I still contend that Izzy will end up on the DL and come back and be fine. Until then, I’d do an overhaul.
The Cardinal’s long term plan for Kyle McClellan is to have him start. He’s gotten a taste of the Majors, so send him to Memphis to stretch out; they got lucky that Wainwright didn’t get injured with the sudden jump in innings – they won’t get lucky twice. Plus, I’m sick of people comparing him to Wainwright. Yes, Wainwright closed as a rookie, but he had a full season on the MLB roster before he was in that situation. McClellan’s been up for 2 months.
Replace him with Jason Motte. The converted catcher has the ability to get guys out at the Major League Level. It will also have him work with some veteran pitchers and Duncan to really develope a second pitch.
Next, send down Mike Parisi. He’s not being used and would be better served getting regular pitching time in the Memphis rotation.
Replace him with Mark Worrell. Worrell has spent enough time in the minors and has nothing left to prove there. He gets guys out and can go 2 innings if needed.
Designate Ron Villone for assignment. Did anyone really think he would continue to dominate the way he has? Seriously, he doesn’t deserve to be on the team after his last 2 outings. The team would have 10 days to trade him – the Phillies would be interested since they are stock-piling left handed relievers.
Replace him with Chris Perez. You’d have the spot cleared on the 40 man by DFAing Villone and he’s the closer of the future. I wouldn’t give him the save situations yet; just get him familiar with pitching in the Majors.
The only problem then is your second lefty reliever – you know Tony LaRussa can’t have a bullpen without a second lefty. That’s where things get tricky. If Izzy were to go on the DL, you could bring up Ron Flores. He’s somewhat reliable and cheap. The 40-man roster is currently full, so you could move Chris Carpenter to the 60-day DL or DFA Rico Washington. Washington would be the best option just for the fact that they shouldn’t call him back up.
If Izzy isn’t injured, you can either carry 1 lefty until a deal can be made or DFA Russ Springer. Springer is getting up there in age and hasn’t been as reliable as he has in the past. With the young guys coming up, he’d probably lose innings. Plus, a pitching starved team would take him pretty quickly.
I’d also juggle the roster a little. I don’t know who I’d want off worse – Aaron Miles or Cesar Izturis. Izturis’s defense is a good fit with the team, but Miles is Tony’s guy and has had some clutch hits in the past. I’d send Miles away just for the fact Izturis is better with the glove (Miles is adequate at 2B, but falls off at 3B and SS).
Replace him with Joe Mather. Joey Bombs gives the bench some much needed power and can play all 4 corner positions – they don’t currently have a true back up at 3B.
I’d attempt to trade Chris Duncan. There is nothing more frustrating than an outfielder who can’t catch a ball (he’s wasn’t a great defensive 1B, so I don’t know how they thought he could move up the defensive spectrum). I’m sure an AL team would take him for a DH/1B spot and the Cardinals could get a decent player in return. This scenario could also keep Springer around, since you’d have Ryan and Mather covering the infield from the bench.
Replace him with Brian Barden. Barden got a cup of coffee with the team last year when rosters expanded. So far this year, he’s been one of the few bright spots in Memphis (along with everyone else being brought up). He can cover any spot in the infield and has a little pop in his bat.
The team would look like this:
C – Yadier Molina
1B – Albert Pujols
2B – Adam Kennedy
3B – Troy Glaus
SS – Brendan Ryan
LF – Skip Schumaker
CF – Rick Ankiel
RF – Ryan Ludwick
B – Brian Barton
B – Jason LaRue
B – Cesar Izturis
B – Joe Mather
B – Brian Barden
SP – Adam Wainwright
SP – Braden Looper
SP – Joel Pineiro
SP – Kyle Lohse
SP – Todd Wellemeyer
CL – Ryan Franklin
RP – Jason Motte
RP – Chris Perez
RP – Mark Worrell
RP – Jason Isringhausen
RP – Randy Flores
RP – Ron Flores
This team would compete much better that the one they are currently fielding – at least if they all play at the level they are in Triple A. Even if they take their lumps, no one was expecting the team to compete this year so it really wouldn’t be that big of a hit. It would help the team that much more next year, when these guys have experience to go with a fully healthy Chris Carpenter and the possibility of McClellan and Jaime Garcia joining the rotation.