As a Cardinals fan, blogger, and generally a studier of the habits of the management and organization, I consider myself fairly well read on the topic of what the team is going to do and the motives behind why they do it.
When Mitchell Boggs was optioned to Memphis, the move made sense to me. I defended it as the proper decision in a blog post that day.
However, now I just don’t know what’s going on.
I figured Boggs would head to Memphis, spend a couple weeks working on his stuff in relief while serving out of the Redbirds bullpen, maybe even closing out games for them. He’d be there until a roster spot opened up in St. Louis due to injury, trade, or the release of a player.
Then comes news during Boggs’ first appearance. He was going to start the game while the game’s scheduled starter would come in after Boggs was done. Okay. I thought. Just getting Boggs his time on the mound early in the game.
Then comes three days later and he gets the start against Omaha. This time he threw 4 innings. He allowed 3 hits and 1 walk along with 4 strikeouts. The general perception is that the Cardinals are looking to turn Boggs back into a starter and the extended appearance in Memphis is proof to that. But why?
That’s the question I’ve wrestled with this afternoon since reading the game recap. I usually have a pretty good idea of what the organization is try to do, but this time I’m just lost. You see, the Cardinals currently have five starting pitchers. Of those five, four of them are under contract for next season. Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook each enter the final year of their deals, Westbrook holds an option for 2013. Also, you have Jaime Garcia and Kyle McClellan who either are or are expected to be arbitration eligible.
For that final spot, I have to believe that the Cardinals will either pick up the option of Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright, whose 2011 was cut short by Tommy John surgery. So the starting rotation seems to be locked in for 2012, no matter which way you look at it.
It could be innocent, perhaps, deciding that Boggs can better help the team spending his time in Memphis, getting stretched out as a starting pitcher, to be the sixth starter should one of our existing rotation members go down with an injury. While it’s forward thinking, when all five are working well and showing no signs of injury, why would you make this decision when you don’t need to?
Another option I considered is that it could mean there is a trade coming. This could go two ways. This could involve one of our current starting pitchers and Boggs is being prepared to take his place. Or it could be a team expressed interest in Boggs, but was interested in making sure he could still be a starting pitcher before completing the deal.
There has been a lot of talk about Chris Carpenter and what you do with him. Personally, I think there is zero chance of him returning to the Cardinals right now. His return basically depends on Kyle McClellan being completely unsuccessful as the team’s fifth starter. Right now, that’s not the case as McClellan is hot on the heels of the league leader in wins. With a 3.11 ERA, a 6-1 record, and a 1.19 WHIP, McClellan has turned in a stellar debut in the major leagues as a starting pitcher.
So what do the Cardinals have to gain from this? I am very unsure. It’s a new experience for me since I’ve closely followed the team and the organization over the last decade. I’ve always been able to determine why the organization made the decision it did.
Anyone else have any good ideas?