Cheap Seats

Duking it out?

I don't see the Cardinals spending a bunch of money on a starting pitcher this offseason.

First, they have a ton of money invested in Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse. Second, Jaime Garcia has emerged as a legitimate major league starter, giving the team four set roster slots. With all the work needed on batting order, finding a fifth starter isn't going to be a financial or logistical priority. They'd be much better off spending the $7.5 million invested in Brad Penny on finding a fifth place hitter or a leadoff man.

But maybe, if the Tony La Russa-Dave Duncan regime sticks around for another year or two, the Redbirds will take a flier on Pittsburgh hurler Zach Duke.

The once promising Duke is 7-14 with a 5.78 ERA for the Bucs and he seems like he might be available either as a non-tendered player or a bargain bin trade target. According to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Duke is likely to lose his spot in the starting rotation after getting bombed for eight runs in his last start.

Duke has allowed 191 hits this season in 142 1/3 innings pitched. He's struck out 89 while walking 46.

Despite being 23-44 in his last three seasons, Duke is only 27. So he's got plenty of upside if someone can figure out what the difference is between his current delivery and the one that allowed him to post an 8-2 record with a 1.81 ERA in his rookie season.

Duke is third year arbitration eligible. Despite his losing career record and lifetime ERA over 4.50, Duke is somehow making $4.2 million this season. The Pirates are very unlikely to offer arbitration and the lefty hurler likely faces a severe pay cut.

If that's the case, he seems like a candidate for a Dave Duncan rehab project.