Cheap Seats

Short on relief

Manager Tony La Russa says that if the Cardinals sign only one more significant player he would rather see it be a hitter than a pitcher.

But the talk about Kyle McClellan training as a starter and coming to camp as a likely solution for the hole in the fifth spot of the rotation as me nervous.

Nevermind the fact that McClellan has worn down badly in the second half of the last two seasons -- and how many more innings he would put on his arm as a starter -- what I'm mostly worried about is how thin the right side of te bullpen gets without him.

Besides Ryan Franklin, who is something of a question mark after his late season meltdown in 2009, McClellan is probably the most experienced late inning righty on the team. I'm not saying, going into his third year on the club, that he is irreplaceable. But if the Cardinals are going to take McClellan out of the bullpen, I can't see how they can avoid going out and getting someone to replace him.

Josh Kinney performed well in pressure situations in 2006. Especially down the stretch and in the post season. But he has had some awful injuries to deal with since then and, when he finally came back last year, he was never able to harness his control. So, it would be nice if Kinney can pick up where he left off. But I don't think you can count on that at this point.

Coming back from last year you have Jason Motte -- who is still a project -- coming from the right side as well as green as the get former starter Blake Hawksworth and another recently converted starter, Mitchell Boggs.

The Redbirds ought to not slam the door too quickly on John Smoltz or Braden Looper. Both are capable of pitching the eigth inning or working as a starter. Otherwise, that huge investment they made in the offense better payoff bigtime because this team may have to score six or eight runs a game to win.