ST. LOUIS – The Cardinals pitching staff is starting to look more like an infirmary than part of a professional baseball roster, and it only seems to be getting worse.


Just when Mark Mulder looked to be on the fast track to returning, management sat him down, extending his rehab assignment. Matt Clement hasn’t even been talked about, Tyler Johnson has been scheduled for surgery, and Jason Isringhausen’s mental break most recently turned into a laceration on his hand. Oh yeah, and the once promising Kyle Lohse will soon be on the DL with shoulder problems.


Everything seems to be pointing down. But if a Monty Python reference can be forgiven, Cardinals fans should “Always Look on the Bright Side.”


Nobody expected anything at all from the 2008 Cardinals, and the team currently sits 2.5 games out of first place. Any other year, that might seem like a negative. But also remember that it’s only May 16 and there is a lot of baseball left to be played.


Remember the 2006 World Series? The Redbirds largely won in the post season with young pitchers. This could be another win-win situation. Giving a veteran pitching staff a break this early in the season will not only let La Russa and Duncan learn what they might be able to expect from their prospects, but give the proven guys a rest and the ability to go strong in the second half of the season.


In the ideal world of La Russa, Chris Perez and Mike Parisi will end up being stars just in time for the second-half return of the injured Cardinals. If the Redbirds can stay within reach, the post-All-Star Break rotation could be Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Mulder, Lohse, Braden Looper … and what do you do with Clement, Joel Pineiro, and Todd Wellemeyer.


As far as the closer situation, the St. Louis management might have been better off lacerating the hand of Ron Villone instead of Isringhausen. Every time Randy Flores, Ryan Franklin, or Kyle McClellan have a solid outing and hold the opposition, apprehension sets in when Villone enters the game. Perhaps the Yankees felt the same way when they decided to get rid of the 38-year old veteran who has been with 11 teams in 13 years.




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