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Starting pitching propels to the top of Cards' wish list

Starting pitching propels to the top of Cards' wish list

Starting pitching propels to the top of Cards' wish list
ST. LOUIS -- Tuesday's announcement that Chris Carpenter will miss the entire 2012 season after undergoing surgery not only brought resolution to the right-hander's situation, it provides clarity for the club.

With the non-waiver Trade Deadline just four weeks away, general manager John Mozeliak is now certain that the club cannot count on a lift from Carpenter in the second half. That propels starting pitching to the top of the organization's list of immediate needs.

"We're not guessing any longer," Mozeliak said. "It's disappointing, but there's closure to it. From a standpoint of the club and a planning standpoint, at least we can now move forward."

The market for starting pitching, as Mozeliak described it just days ago, is fairly limited. As the month progresses, though, more teams are likely to take on the role of seller, perhaps pushing other available starters into the trade market.

The Cardinals, who trail the Reds by 2 1/2 games in the National League Central, aren't desperate for a starter, but their desire to upgrade is now no secret.

St. Louis does anticipate plugging Jaime Garcia back into the rotation in August, and, assuming he is again completely healthy, his return should be a boost. But the Cardinals also have innings-count concerns to consider.

Both Adam Wainwright -- who didn't pitch in 2011 -- and Lance Lynn -- who threw 120 2/3 innings last season -- are having their workloads closely monitored. In the case of Lynn, the Cardinals would prefer to eventually move him into the bullpen during the second half.

Doing so would achieve two objectives. It would keep him from possibly breaking down from throwing too many innings, and it would fortify a bullpen that has been a weak point for this club for much of the season.

The ability to move Lynn to the bullpen could hinge on the Cardinals' ability to acquire a starter.

"When we start to look long-term, we want to make sure we're smart about that [workload]," Mozeliak said. "As we look toward the Trade Deadline, if we could find a starter, that would make the most sense for us."

The Cardinals' pursuit of a starter will lead them to look at all options, including pitchers who are only under contract through the end of the year. Acquiring a pitcher who could stay beyond 2012 could be ideal, but it would cost the Cardinals a greater load in a midseason trade.

The club continues to also seek bullpen help, but again, those needs could be addressed by adding a starter. Heading into 2012 the Cardinals had planned on having Lynn as their eighth-inning setup man. Carpenter's injury changed that blueprint in spring and has contributed to the bullpen being somewhat unsettled since.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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