Ripples from Wainwright

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting some bad news for Cardinal fans, and fans of pitching in general—Adam Wainwright appears to have injured his right elbow.

General manager John Mozeliak said he believes it is a “significant injury” and the early word is “not encouraging.”

This isn’t the first time Wainwright has had elbow problems, this story has threads reaching back to 2004. Still, this is a shocking piece of bad news for a club that had a shot at contending against the Reds and Brewers.

The impacts are numerous, including:

  1. Wainwright’s 2010 Cy Young votes earned him a vesting option … almost. He has to be off the DL at the end of 2011 for the 2012 option to kick-in.
  2. Does this mean the Cardinals have additional payroll flexibility that could be leveraged for Albert Pujols?
  3. The Cardinals just lost a pitcher who is generally projected to post a WAR around 5, those are some expensive wins for a team hoping to contend.
  4. Kevin Millwood may suddenly find himself employed.
  5. Chris Carpenter‘s fragile right-arm is now carrying a lot of weight

Shelving one of the best pitchers in baseball doesn’t just hurt St. Louis, but all us who enjoy watching quality pitching. And epic curveballs.

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Comments

  1. Jeffrey Gross said...

    I think this safely pushes the Cardinals, who already had an incredibly thin rotation, into panick mode. I agree Millwood (who was waiting for some team to panick) is a fine replacement in terms of eating innings, but I think it is safe to say the Cardinals are safely out of competition for the NL Central now. With Wainwright, they were projected for 85-88 wins, depending on who you consulted. The Wainwright-Millwood differential pushes them down 3-4 WAR, and it may be a struggle for the Cards to even break even in their record

  2. Jim G. said...

    As a Brewers fan this isn’t bad news, but I loved watching Wainwright pitch.

    @ Jeff: it’s also why you don’t throw curveballs the first week of spring training.

  3. Josh Katz said...

    The Cards have a club option on Wainwright for 2011 at $9m and for 2012 at $12m.  Unless his arm physically falls off on the operating table, they’re picking up those options.  So no, this injury doesn’t open up additional money for the team to throw it Pujols.  It just means they’re a lot less likely to compete in 2011.

  4. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Josh,

    The contract dictates that “the club must exercise 2012 and 2013 options at same time.” TJ surgery has a 10-18 month recovery period, with EXTREMELY few people being able to return to pitch by 12 months in, requiring up to 24 months to regain full strength. I think the Cardinals may look at Brandon Webb’s 2010 season as a caution for picking up the option.

  5. Josh Katz said...

    Jeffrey, everything I’ve read or seen in baseball on TJ surgery says 12-18 months.  Webb has had repeated arm troubles post surgery, so he is indeed a cautionary tale about recovery expectations. But there are numerous pitchers who come back successfully from TJ in the 18 month window.  Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, and Chris Carpenter did so on the Cardinals alone.  Tim Hudson missed one season, and threw almost 230 innings a year later.

  6. Harry Pavlidis said...

    Webb had/has shoulder issues, a labrum tear is not something guys come back from like an ulnar issue in their elbow.

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