Sometimes, it is a lot more fun to pose questions than to be expected to answer them. In the case of all that surrounds one Jason Marquis, since there are so many uncertainties, this is more a necessity than a luxury.
As a result, here are 15 questions about Marquis' future, presented with no answers, but instead offered as food for thought.
1) Is Walt Jocketty really prepared to go to camp with all of his current starters?
2) Or, are Walt's public statements designed to limit pressure on Sidney Ponson and himself plus perhaps help strengthen his position in trade negotiations with other teams?
3) Is Ponson being thought of as a Cal Eldred replacement or a viable starter as of today? Or, will that not truly be answered until March?
4) Does the signing of Ponson provide enough rotation backfill to enable the Cardinals to trade Marquis now for a corner outfielder or perhaps a second baseman?
5) How big of a gamble are the Cardinals willing to take at this time? Or will they wait until March or even mid-season to act?
6) Even if they would make a trade now, could that potentially put more pressure on already injury-prone and unproven Anthony Reyes to log an increased number of innings in his rookie season?
7) Could the Cardinals survive the 2006 regular season in a scenario where Reyes and fellow rookie Adam Wainwright were both needed to start regularly?
8) Would the retooled bullpen have enough gas to cover a starting pitching gap all season long?
9) If the addition of Ponson alone does not provide enough comfort to free up Marquis in trade for an outfielder, does Jocketty have enough payroll flexibility and interest in adding yet another viable major league starting pitching candidate to the mix? (Kirk Rueter need not apply.)
10) What is the real status of Marquis' relationship with the Cardinals coaching staff? Is everything really ok, or has it been quietly decided that it is time for both sides to move in different directions, ala Ray King?
11) Does the uncertainty over Marquis' impending arbitration and then another contract problem again likely ahead next offseason (if he settles for one year) make him a less appealing trade target for other teams?
12) Would the Cardinals consider offering Marquis a multi-year deal to enhance his trade value or would they be too wary of getting "stuck" with him as a result?
13) If Marquis is not particularly keen on the idea of being traded, would he be less inclined to settle on any 2006 contract offer quickly?
14) It has been a long time since Jocketty has had an arbitration case actually go all the way to the hearing. Could Marquis be the next one? If so, his 2006 contract will not be set until sometime in February.
15) Other teams have reportedly asked about Jeff Suppan instead of Marquis in trade. Would the Cardinals be willing to trade Suppan now instead of waiting for Marquis' situation to play out?
The answers to these questions and more will help decide a lot about the makeup of the 2006 Cardinals and ultimately their success on the field of play. The problem is, I am not sure even Walt Jocketty has all the answers. Only time will tell for sure.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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