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With Centro-Matic's "Candidate Waltz" playing on the speakers, let's get on with the questions. It's another lightning-round Inbox this week, with shorter answers to more questions.
I am expecting the Cardinals to "nurse" Adam Wainwright at the beginning of the season and allow several arms in the bullpen to pick up the extra innings needed for that. If the starters prove healthy, there may well be a glut of arms in the bullpen. J.C. Romero and Marc Rzepczynski are set, but who would be the odd man out from the right side? Injury will most likely solve this question. But, anything could happen -- they did have the miracle comeback last fall. -- Mark T., Chicago
I think you've sort of answered your own question. One of Tony La Russa's frequent assertions, and I've cited it here, is that problems like that nearly always sort themselves out. It's also possible that the Cardinals could carry 13 pitchers early in the year, for the very reasons you note -- there will be reason to take it easy with Wainwright, and perhaps they'll choose to do the same with Chris Carpenter. They could also trade someone. The possibilities are numerous, but the short answer is that most likely the question will answer itself before Opening Day.
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Any truth to the rumor that Roy Oswalt would love to play in St. Louis? If so, are the Cardinals interested? -- Dave B., Springfield, Mo.
It's no real secret that St. Louis would be, in a vacuum, high on Oswalt's list of potential destinations. The problem, of course, is that a signing wouldn't happen in a vacuum. The Cardinals have five starters under contract, all of them very nicely compensated, so the chances of an Oswalt deal are exceedingly slim.
What happened with Nick Stavinoha? He was never called up and now he's gone -- Keith, Pekin, Ill.
Stavinoha was allowed to depart via Minor League free agency this winter. He signed with the Astros, but subsequently was released from his contract to go play in Japan.
With Houston moving to the American League in 2013, and the need for more Interleague Play games, is it possible that we will see the Cardinals sign or keep players who are most useful as a designated hitter? -- Elijah B., Burlington, Vt.
In short, no. For one thing, there's no guarantee that there will be many more Interleague games. Some of the models that have been discussed include as few as 18 Interleague games per team per year, which is very close to what teams have now. But even if it's as many as 30 games, that's still only 15 games at AL parks. That's not enough of a change to justify any kind of significant change in player acquisition.
Any potential uniform number switching with the arrival of some of the different players and/or the departure of some of the former players? To be more specific, is anyone slated to wear the No. 5? -- Randy A., Queen City, Mo.
To answer the last question first, no. The club does not intend to issue No. 5 this year (safe to assume that 10 won't be used either). Beyond that, we'll probably learn a lot more about uniform numbers this weekend at the Winter Warm-Up. The biggest question seems to be who will wear No. 15 -- Carlos Beltran or Rafael Furcal.
I have been following the career of Trevor Rosenthal, and I wonder if there is any projected timeline for his appearance in the Majors? Is he being considered as a starter for the long term? He appears to have what it takes to become a front-of-the-rotation pitcher. -- Thom M., Kansas City
You have a good eye. Rosenthal, still only 21, is one of the more highly-regarded pitchers in the system and a fast riser on prospect lists. He has a power arm and the strikeout rate to match, having averaged nearly 10 K's per nine innings in his first full pro season. It's still far too early to project a timetable, but all signs point to him having at least the potential to stay as a starter, and possibly to be a very good one.
Is there any chance the Cardinals would look at signing a guy like Bill Hall to a Minor League deal? The guy plays multiple positions, and I feel he would be the utility guy the Cardinals always seem to have. -- Ryan C., Mobile, Ala.
I don't know about Hall specifically, but I think you're onto something at least conceptually. There aren't a lot of holes to fill on this Cardinals team, but as of now they could probably use a little pop off the bench and they could also use one more infielder. Then again, it's not at all clear that Hall is still really an infielder, so he might well not be a fit. But I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cards make another small move or two before Spring Training.
It's no secret that Ozzie Smith and La Russa didn't quite see eye-to-eye. Now that La Russa has retired, do you think we can expect to see the Wizard around Busch Stadium a little more often? I know the fans and probably the players would like to see him be more involved in some capacity. -- Scott C., Beijing, China
It's unclear how exactly this will look, but I'd say there's a decent chance of it, yes.
Why do you think second base has been such a merry-go-round for the Cardinals since the Fernando Vina days? I understand there is not a glut of great second basemen, but it seems like that is a question mark every year. Thanks. -- Brad W., Cape Coral, Fla.
It's in part by design. The Cardinals are obviously not quite the free-spenders that some clubs are, so they cut costs in some areas. One area where they've been willing to do that is second base. Now, a couple of times they've tried to end that, of course. Adam Kennedy signed a three-year deal, and that just didn't work out. But in many cases, they've brought in players knowing full well they were stopgap solutions. The hope is that that trend stops within a few years, as Kolten Wong (or perhaps Zack Cox) arrives to nail down the keystone for a few years.