Are the Cardinals Beginning to Unravel?

The headline of my post seems a bit ridiculous, but I can’t help but notice how poorly things have started out here for the Cardinals in the young 20111 campaign. The eight time N.L. Central Division champions were unable to make it through the month of February before losing their ace, Adam Wainwright, to Tommy John surgery. Wainwright is expected to miss 12-15 months.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the injury bug struck twice in the short month of February, as newly acquired 3B Nick Punto will miss 8-12 weeks after having surgery to repair a sports hernia. While both injuries are untimely, the Cardinals front office needs to quickly address their need for a No. 5 starting pitcher. From the looks of it, it seems the Cardinals front office will look to add their fifth starter from within their organization before looking elsewhere.

Injuries aside, the Cardinals are now dealing with swirling trade rumors focused on their “ace” Chris Carpenter. Carpenter confirmed today that while he is not seeking a trade, he is also not opposed to one, either. The Carpenter rumors should die down – for now – but don’t be surprised if they flare up again before the trade deadline. Of course, the Cardinals record come July 31st, and the status of this Albert Pujols fellow, will play a large factor as to whether the Cards are buyers or sellers.

The Cardinals should contend for the N.L. Central Division title in 2011, so maybe the term unravel is a harsh word for this late winter morning, but the injuries and trade rumors raise a lot of questions about the team’s future.

What would the Cardinals lineup look like without the likes of Albert Pujols? Or their rotation without Carpenter? To me, it looks like a wide open Central Division once again in 2012.

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