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Pineiro still has no takers

Could there be a chance that the Cardinals could bring Joel Pineiro back after all?

It seemed impossible at the end of the 2009 season. Some pundits predicted Pineiro would get a four or five-year-deal worth $50-$60 million when he hit the open market. The Cardinals couldn't afford to pay that. But the offers just haven't been there.

The Mets are the only team that seems to have any interest in Pineiro at all. And they're talking about offering him $14-$15 millio over two years.

If the Cardinals could get Pineiro back at that price, he would be a durable option in the rotation who could man the fifth spot or move up if one of the other starters hits the disabled list. And, personally, I would prefer to see the Birds pay Pineiro $7 million this season over paying a 43-year-old John Smoltz $5 million or so.

Maybe the Cardinals could get a little bit more creative and offer Pineiro $15 over two years: $5 million in 2010 and $10 million in 2011. Brad Penny is soaking up $7.5-$9 million in 2010 depending on the incentives he reaches. But he seems destined to be a one-year rental because if he has a good season he will price himself out of the Cardinals range. If he has a bad season they won't want him. And if he is mediocre, $7.5 million is a lot to pay for mediocrity. So they would probably have the extra cash for a starter next season and I would have to hope that one of the kids would be ready to take the fifth spot by 2011.

If the Cardinals spent $5 million of the $7-$8 million they have left on a pitcher, they're going to have to go cheap on the reserves. Real cheap. But is it worth it to have the best top to bottom starting five in the NL?

Starters: Carpenter, Wainwright, Lohse, Penny, Pineiro

Relievers: Franklin, Reyes, Miller, Hawksworth, McClellan, Motte, Boggs or Garcia

Lineup: Schumaker (2B), Rasmus (CF), Pujols (1B), Holliday (LF), Ludwick (RF), Molina (C), Freese (3B), Ryan (SS)

Bench: Lugo (2B, 3B, SS), T. Greene (SS, 3B, 2B), LaRue (C), lefty hitter and Jon Jay, Nick Stavinova, Joe Mather, Shane Robinson or a spring training cut OF.

The Cardinals can afford to be a little shallow in the outfield because they have the very versatile pair of Lugo and Green on the infield and a very capable fourth outfielder starting at second base. If any of the outfielders go down for an extended period of time, Lugo or Green could take over at second and Schumaker could start in the outfield.