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UCB November Roundtables: Injuries and Chances

Twice a year the group known as the United Cardinal Bloggers gather virtually to discuss the topics that are on everyone’s minds.

The torch gets passed daily to the next person to ask a question while the group of bloggers all sound off with their opinions   The November roundtables have come around and I-70′s turn has come to pass.  This year, we wanted to play to the optimists, the pessimists and the realists of the group with a predictive question towards 2013.

The email that was sent to the group read:

My question for you is two-fold and equally pessimistic and optimistic (with a dash of realistic, for Daniel’s sake)…
- What player will take a substantial injury, shelving him for the majority of the 2013 season?
- What player will gain the opportunity, and seize it, to become a cornerstone of the team next year?

The answers were varied at times and very agreeable at others.  Here’s a look at what the UCB thinks…

Dennis LawsonPitchersHitEighth
It’s hard not to be pessimistic about injury considerations.  I’m going to try and be positive and say that the substantial injury has already happened, and it’s Jaime Garcia.  Lance Lynn could be the guy who seizes the opportunity to be a consistent guy.  Knowing what lies ahead makes it easier for Lynn to really train for 200 innings, and he can do so without looking over his shoulder.  This gives him an opportunity to look past the bullpen “demotion” and move ahead with his focus on being the kind of rock the team needs him to be.

Daniel Shoptaw - Cardinal70
I agree with Dennis that Garcia’s the injury, but I’ll say Shelby Miller takes that opportunity and puts together a season that at least puts him into consideration for Rookie of the Year.

Daniel SolzmanRedbirdRants
I have to go with Garcia on the injury.

Shelby Miller will become a cornerstone of the team.  We saw the potential of what he could do at a major league level on the final game of the season.  Yes, it was a meaningless game in that both teams had already clinched playoff berths but a no hitter through 5 innings in his first MLB start?!?

NickPitchersHitEighth
Matt Holliday’s back makes me nervous, and since we’re just playing around here (please don’t ACTUALLY miss any time, Matt) I’ll say he gets shelved for some extended period of time and Oscar Taveras goes bonkers with the available at-bats.

Wes KeeneKeeneOnMLB
In the spirit of making things interesting, I’ll go a different route. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beltran experiencing some significant downtime. The alternate lineup will look very similar to what we got in the NLCS with Craig in right and Matt Carpenter at 1st. In this scenario, I think Carp does what he does and shines. Beltran being out, while unfortunate, is one of the missing pieces the Cards are relatively well equipped to cover, provided they don’t have other significant injuries happening concurrently.

Mary ClausenMLBVoice.com
Part 1: Jaime Garcia.  He seems to be on the DL more than is isn’t as of late.  Part 2: Shelby Miller.  I’m excited to watch this young pitcher mature onto a spot in the Cardinal rotation. Hopefully they will take him slow. We don’t want another Rick Ankiel. It’s funny (not ha ha ) that rumors say that Ankiel might pitch again. What timing? It will be Fun! to follow Rick. He’s a very gifted athlete.

Editor’s Note: The rumor about Ankiel returning to the mound has been denied by Ankiel and his agency

Tom KnuppelCardinalsGM
I have already stated I don’t trust the health of Chris Carpenter so he is the most likely for me to choose. I don’t see him going past 10 starts and I hope that I am wrong about this.

For the person seizing the chance I think it becomes Lance Lynn…. but to be defined as a cornerstone I would have to lay low on that one.

Dathan BrooksCardsTiedForFirst
Injuries are so tough to try and predict, and the 2nd part of the question is almost fully reliant on the 1st.  I suppose age/track record are some indicators.  Garcia, Furcal, & Beltran are all good candidates I suppose, given what we know & have seen at this point.  ‘course, never count Freese out when we’re talking about health concerns, and Jon Jay could easily take a foul ball off the foot or Yadi be HBP on the hand….ya just never know.

Brian VaughanStanGraphs
Realistically, I already feel like Jaime Garcia is all but tied to the disabled list. The whole “not having surgery” thing seldom seems to pay long-term dividends for a player and usually only delays the inevitable. I’m going to assume he winds up watching most of the season rather than participating, and if he does, I think it’s entirely possible we see multiple starters solidify themselves.

Lance Lynn will surely get the first crack at becoming the new number three after his All-Star turn this past summer, and I think he’s largely (Get it? He’s tall!) up to the task. Lynn can miss bats, and even though he’s been a bit inconsistent I think the end results will be there. If Garcia’s troubles are as bad as I’m speculating, and again this is purely based on my non-existent instinct, then I think we’ll for sure get treated to Shelby Miller’s Official Rookie Season. Miller showed he has Major League stuff right now, and I think he’ll be more than adequate even at such a young age. If he steps up big time, just imagine how much financial flexibility John Mozeliak will have! See how I’m looking at the bright side here?

Spencer HendricksStanGraphs
To be honest, none of the Cardinals are especially durable, neither the veterans (Beltran, Furcal) nor the younger guys (Freese, Craig, even Jay missed ample time this season) for that matter. There are plenty of obvious picks to make in regards to who might spend a large chunk of the season on the DL, but I’m going to make a wild, random guess just for entertainment and hope very fervently that my words don’t become prophetic. I’ll say that Molina will get off to another great start in April and then find himself tragically struck by a serious injury, missing the rest of the season. Maybe he’ll have to endure another nasty home plate collision, maybe he’ll run into Hee Seop Choi on the way to first base, who knows? All I’m saying is Molina’s going to have a 1.200 OPS in April and then be lost for the season shortly thereafter.

Breakout candidate goes to Shelby Miller. I’m really excited to see Shelbs make the rotation and be the pitching equivalent of Mike Trout next season. Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP all at once. How’s that for a Triple Crown? I’m bullish on Shelby.

Mark TomasiksRetroSimba
Carlos Beltran likely will follow Lance Berkman in having an injury-plagued second season with the Cardinals.

Not to worry, though, because Oscar Taveras will replace him and do well.

DJ McClureWelcomeToBaseballHeaven
The Cardinals rolled the dice with Lance Berkman in 2011 and hit the jackpot. Rolled it again with him in 2012 and busted. Hopeful we won’t see a similar story with year two of Carlos Beltran after a very good first season with the Cardinals but it’s tough to stay ahead of Father Time when injuries have already been in the equation. Carlos avoided extended time on the DL this season but did have a number of nagging injuries. If that’s the case next season compensating for those could lead to more serious problems. Of course hopefully not.

As for who would pick up the slack? Yep,  Mr. Oscar Taveras (AKA Minor League Guy). He’s definitely not a secret in STL and hasn’t seen a pitch in AAA yet, but I think they’d give him a legitimate shot if needed as long as he was progressing in Memphis. He’s only a year younger than Mike Trout who was in a similar spot as Oscar last year and look how that turned out.

Christine ColemanAaronMilesFastball
As many have already said, I think the substantial injury waiting to happen is Jaime Garcia and his shoulder. I was already a little nervous reading a week or so ago when John Mozeliak said they are holding their breath a bit regarding Garcia not having surgery now, so that just seems like a serious problem waiting to happen.

The one who will seize the opportunity, to me, is Lance Lynn. He no doubt learned much, positive and negative, this season regarding what it takes to sustain success as a starting pitcher based on the ups and downs he went through. I think he’ll be able to channel that into sustained success throughout the 2013 season and beyond.

Chris Reed - BirdBrained
It’s hard to believe, but the most durable guys on this team seem to be Yadier Molina and Jason Motte. Jaime Garcia, Rafael Furcal, and Chris Carpenter seem to be the most obvious choices for the long-term DL since they’re practically there already, with Carlos Beltran also a solid choice. And don’t forget the ever-present questions surrounding the young careers of David Freese and Allen Craig. Ugh. It makes ME hurt just thinking about it.

I honestly don’t think we’re going to see a lot–if any at all–of Garcia next year. A shoulder injury is just about the worst thing that can happen to a pitcher. He may be able to pitch through it for a while, but surgery or no this will catch up to him in a hurry. I’m guessing Garcia takes the ball less than six times in 2013. And, consequently, it becomes Miller Time in St. Louis. Shelby Miller will step into the role and have a very nice rookie season–perhaps even make some noise in the Rookie of the Year voting. But you said “cornerstone,” and I have trouble attaching that label to most rookies. What will really propel the 2013 rotation to greatness will be the return to Ace form of Adam Wainwright. His leadership on and off the field will be what holds the starting five together in the absence of Garcia (and Carp, if necessary).

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