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Don't count on Buehrle in 2012

Although he likes to drop hints from time to time about his desire to play for the Cardinals before he retires, Mark Buehrle is unlikely to finish his career any place besides the south side of Chicago, according to ESPN.

Jayson Stark writes that he thinks Buehrle will re-sign with the Pale Hose before he hits free agency. But he warns that pitching is going to be painfull thin next off-season, so a guy with Burhle's resume -- and his earning history -- is unlikely to be affordable for St. Louis which will, presumably, be trying to shoe horn Albert Pujols into its budget.

The Cardinals have Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse already under contract for 2012, lefty Jaime Garcia is under team control as an arbitration eligible player and the club has options on both Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Then there is the matter of Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn making their push toward the majors for 2013 and beyond...

I've been hopeful that the Birds could renegotiate with Carp to turn his one-year, $15 million option into something along the lines of a two-year, $20-million contract. But, with the dearth of starting pitching, both he and Wainwright might be impossible to pass up at their 2012 rates.

The bottom line is, the Cardinals could have five good starters under contract for next season before the hot stove league even begins to heat up. Why trade Carp or let him go as a free agent and weaken what has been the club's biggest strenghth on the gamble you could add a pricey -- but no better -- replacement?

I'd prefer to see the club keep the pitching the way it is, spend the $8 million it will save from letting Berkman go and the $3.5 million it will save by letting Ryan Franklin's contract expire toward re-signing Albert Pujols. Mitchell Boggs can take over as closer, Craig and Jay can fight it out over right field and whatever is left can be spent on trying to upgrade the middle infield.

I was once on the Buehrle bandwagon. But that ship sailed when he signed his most recent contract extension with Chicago.

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