Cheap Seats

Cardinals haven't written off bring aboard a starter

The Cardinals are only going to give Kyle McClellan two weeks to win them over as the fifth starter.

If McClellan can't do it by then, the Birds will consider dealing for a starter according to reports on Fox Sports and It's not clear if St. Louis plans to go the free agent or the trade route.

For what it's worth, McClellan was brilliant in spring training last year, trading excellent starts with Jaime Garcia. While McClellan was thought to have the inside track because Garcia was recovering from Tommy John surgery, it was eventually decided to go with Garcia in the rotation to keep the bullpen intact.

While McClellan pitched extremely well in a starting role last spring, I think the Cardinals should stick with the plan not to pull him out of the 'pen.

McClellan hasn't pitched more than 75 innings in the majors in any of his three seasons -- and he still seems to get worn down at the end. He'd have to pitch more than twice that as a starter, and I'm not sure he'll hold up. In his career, opponents hit .226 off McClellan in the first half of the season. But they hit .255 against him in the second half. His ERA in the first half of the year is 2.59. In the second half it is 4.26.

Those splits were less pronounced in 2010 than they were in McClellan's first two years. But it was interesting after considering McClellan for the rotation the last two years that the Birds were content to leave him in the pen when pitchers and catchers reported this year.

I like the idea of keeping McClellan in the 'pen and signing Kevin Millwood if he is reasonably priced -- less than $2 million. That way the bullpen remains at full strength and the Cardinals maintain the depth they added when they signed Ian Snell.

So maybe the two weeks is less an audition for McClellan than it is time to let Millwood's market come down.