The Cardinals lock up a huge part of their starting rotation for the next two years.
As the 2011 season winds down, the off-season checklist for the St. Louis Cardinals is both long and unclear. Last week, the Cardinals exercised a two-year option with ace Adam Wainwright, who missed all off 2011 with a torn ligament in his pitching elbow.
Most recently, they re-signed the 2005 CY Young award winner Chris Carpenter to a 2-year deal for close to $22 million.
Carpenter is 9-9 in 2011 after starting the year just 1-7. He has pitched better than his .500 record shows but has been a victim of poor run support.
The move solidifies the majority of the rotation for next season. Along with Wainwright and Carpenter, the Cardinals will throw left-hander Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse.
The move also gives the team some depth. Prospect Shelby Miller is 9-3 for the Springfield (AA) affiliate with a 2.70 earned run average. Kyle McClellan had started 17 games prior to being moved back to the bullpen after the team traded center fielder Colby Rasmus in July.
The trade acquired a free agent to be in Edwin Jackson and another LHP Marc Rzepczynski. While Jackson will likely command too much money, Rzepczynski projects as a future starter.
All in all, competition for a 5-man rotation creates solid depth for a team that has struggled to pitch consistently in 2011. To date, the team ERA is 3.83 and opponents have hit .271 against.
While the team still has names like Pujols, Berkman, and Furcal as looming free agents, at least the pitching situation is a tad clearer.