Sunday Morning Coffee with Ray Mileur

Selected in the 22nd round (680th overall) of the June, 2005 First-Year Player draft, Garcia has been ranked by the Birdhouse at, as the Cardinals #3 prospect over the past two years.

Left-handed pitcher, Jaime Garcia, considered one of the best Cardinals pitching prospects in the system, made his major league debut in 2008, ironically replacing left-hander Mark Mulder on the active roster. Ironic, because I have expected Garcia to replace Mulder in the Cardinals rotation in 2010 or even as early as the 2009 season, if St. Louis exercised their buyout option on Mulder's contract.

At the time, Garcia's promotion to St. Louis seemed a bit premature, considering, he was making his Triple-A debut with Memphis in 2008, and experiencing mixed results with a 4-4 won-loss record with a 4.59 ERA in his first 12 starts for the Redbirds.

Garcia was called up to St. Louis twice during the regular season, posting a record of 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA in 10 appearances with the Cardinals, before his season was cut short because of a shoulder injury, requiring season-ending ligament replacement surgery on his pitching elbow.

Expected to be a key member of the Cardinals pitching staff in 2009, Garcia will likely miss most, if not all of the 2009 season, rehabbing from his surgery at the Cardinals training complex in Jupiter, Florida, leaving a big hole in the rotation for a left-hander.

The Cardinals currently are looking at a 2009 rotation filled with right-handers, including; Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Joel Pineiro and potentially Todd Wellemeyer.

If the Cardinals want a left-hander in their rotation, they are going to have to look outside the organization for someone, because the closest thing they have to a left-handed starter currently in the system, is Brad Furnish at Springfield.

Furnish, who split playing time between Palm Beach and Springfield last season actually pitched better at the Double-A level, after getting a promotion from Palm Beach, a move, I questioned at the time.

In 25 appearances, including 20 starts with Palm Beach, Furnish had posted a lackluster record of 8-8 with a 5.17 ERA, nothing to write home about, or that would suggest a promotion is in order. That said, once Furnished he arrived at Springfield he went on a posted a record of 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA, in four appearances, all as a starter.

Barring a trade or the signing of a free-agent for a left-hander, the Cardinals are going to have to go with a starting rotation of five right-handers again next season, until Jaime Garcia can return in 2010, with Brad Furnish still another year or two away from his major league debut.

The bottom line is, I can live with a five man right-handed starting rotation, but the bullpen needs to be stocked with three lefties in that case. Retooling the bullpen with three quality relievers from the left side, should be one of the key objectives for the Cardinals this winter.


PS - I inadvertly left Jaime Garcia off the All-DL Team last Sunday, naturally he should be a key member of that imaginary team.

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