I woke up this morning still stewing about the Adam Wainwright grousing. So here's part two of my rant that started Thursday:
The talk that St. Louis doesn't need Wainwright because it has so many good pitching prospects totally drives me up the wall. While the Cardinals have an impressive crop of young pitchers, does anyone really believe that they'll ALL pan out?
If so, we need to take a quick look at history. Rick Ankiel is the best pitching prospect the Cardinals have had in 20 years. And no one has flamed out more famously than he did.
Wainwright was just one of several highly-touted pitchers in a highly thought of minor league class of 2005. But he's the only one in that group who lived up to his potential.
According to SB Nation, in March 2005 Anthony Reyes was the top-ranked player in the St. Louis bush leagues. Wainwright was ranked fifth, also behind fellow hurlers Chris Lambert, second, and Brad Thompson, fourth. Reyes, besides pitching out of his mind in one World Series game was 13-26 with a 5.12 ERA for his career.
Lambert was 1-3 with a 7.36 ERA. And the few appearances he made in the major leagues were with Detroit and Baltimore, not the Cardinals. The mark he left on St. Louis baseball history is that he was traded to the Tigers in 2007 for Mike Maroth.
Thompson became a decent reliever for a brief while. But he never was able to establish himself as a member of the starting rotation despite several opportunities.
Rounding out the list of top pitchers in the 2005 Cardinals farm system were:
Stuart Pomeranz who has six major-league innings to his credit, all with Baltimore
Donnie Smith who was released by the Redbirds after being charged with felony battery in 2008. I couldn't find a word about him after March 2008 so, it seems, he never was able to come back after he was accused of punching a man in the face near the Cardinals spring training complex in Jupiter, Fla.
Blake Hawksworth pitched 40 innings for the Cardinals in 2009, going 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA. But he's worked for the Dodgers since then, compiling a career 10-13 record with a 4.07 ERA mostly as a reliever.
Players get hurt sometimes. Other times their skills don't translate to higher levels. It's ridiculous to think that everyone is going to make it.
On a completely different subject, the Redbirds' bumper crop of young players makes it easier for the team to afford to pay veterans.
Shelby Miller will make the MLB minimum to be St. Louis' fifth starter. Matt Carpenter will make about the same amount to play second base. Oscar Tavares will make the minimum in 2014 to play right field. Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal will make the same amount to man the bullpen.
With Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran's contracts set to expire after the 2013 season and the possibility of letting Jake Westbrook go without picking up his option, the Cardinals only have $76 million committed to the payroll in 2014 -- INCLUDING Wainwright's new deal.
Beyond those already signed players, only three hit their first year of arbitration: Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso and Fernando Salas. Only three more -- David Freese, Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski -- hit their second year of arbitration.
Unless they go out and sign a position player to a significant contract or make a trade for a guy like Troy Tulowitzki, the Cardinals are going to have a hard time finding a way to spend up to their $115 million budget.
Some bean counters might think that's great. But anyone who has ever managed a business or organization knows that if you don't spend your budget, you're going to get less the next year.
Again, the Cardinals had money to spend. And I can't think of a better player for them to spend it on than Adam Wainwright.