Various media outlets are reporting St. Louis is the front runner to land former Houston and Philadelphia starter, Roy Oswalt, and if that deal happens, watch out folks.
Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Roy Oswalt. That’s a nasty 1-4 in the rotation. Then you’ve got Kyle Lohse coming off a career year, going 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA. Jake Westbrook would either be an insurance starter, an asset to be traded, or an additional option in the bullpen. Waiting in the wings is top prospect Shelby Miller, who has a chance to rise to Triple-A Memphis this season. We haven’t even touched on Kyle McClellan, who had a very successful season as the club’s 5th starter, or Marc Rzepczynski, who’s also projected to be a starter someday.
So what’s that all mean? It means that John Mozeliak will have some serious bargaining chips to work with this spring and summer that could make the Cardinals even better than the team already is.
Let’s take a look at the projected lineup for a minute:
Not a lot of holes to fill, but let’s say Furcal gets hurt or the team wants a little more pop at second base. Mozeliak is now free to make a move. Without Pujols in the lineup, the Cardinals will have 9 legitimate starting position players with only 8 spots to play them, and have 7 legitimate starting pitchers will only 5 spots in the rotation. Even the bullpen will be loaded with talent with the return of Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas, Jason Motte, Lance Lynn, McClellan, Rzepczynski, and company.
There were two general thoughts when Albert Pujols left (other than outrage, anger, and despair), and those were: 1) Mike Matheny will have less pressure to repeat with Pujols gone, and 2) the team will have a lot of flexibility to make improvements.
We’ve already seen scenario number-2 in action… and if the club lands a healthy Roy Oswalt, it blows scenario number-1 out of the water.
Simply put, the addition of Roy Oswalt (and all the other options the move would present) puts this team on the fast track for at the very least a return trip to the NLCS, if not the World Series. It should be fun to watch.