Nice job by all the fill-ins last night. If you can't go to the playoffs, we might as well ruin the Diamondbacks season as well! Anyway, continuing with my retrospective:
What went right: Lohse was a serious bargain pick-up during spring training and was our most consistent and successful starter. Wellenmeyer pitched very well also for the most part, though he struggled in June and up to the All-star break. Looper was very steady, about what you'd expect from a #4 starter type. Wainwright pitched like an ace - when he was healthy. Carpenter showed signs of his old form for the brief time he was back.
What went wrong - Pineiro pitched quite poorly for most of the year. No one was able to fill Wainwright's spot in the rotation really when he was out, be it Boggs, Garcia or whoever. Mulder was unable to come back, and signing Clement also came to nothing. Carpenter's comeback was also eventually stopped short due to an apparent nerve problem in his shoulder, and he may require more surgery in the offseason. Wainwright was missed badly while he was out, and that may the the primary reason we are in the outside looking in for the NL wildcard.
Bottom line: You'd have to give the starting rotation basically average marks on the year. They were pretty good before Waino was injured, but only decent without him. Lohse, Wellenmeyer, and Looper had what I would term good years though.
Plan for next year: We all know that the Cardinals have a lot of money coming off the books after this year, and this is were I would spend the bulk of it. Even IF Carpenter can come back, and that's a big if you have to say with his long injury history, we could use another big arm. Wainwright and Wellenmeyer should be back (anyone know for sure if Wellenmeyer is free-agency elligible, or just arbitration, like I believe?). I believe we should let Lohse go - he'll command a salary higher than he should after his career year. Resign Looper, he'll be cheaper and fills that 4th or 5th starter role just fine. Relegate Pineiro to long relief/spot starts (the Brad Thompson role). If Carp is back, that still leaves one spot. The guy I'd prefer to go after is A.J. Burnett. He should opt out of his deal with Toronto. He's from the St. Louis area and almost signed with us last time. He'll cost a pretty penny. I'd guess $13-15 mill X5 years (he's earning 12 right now), but he seems to be just reaching his potential and should be even better in the National League. He'll be cheaper than Sabathia at least. He's not quite an ace in my opinion, but will be good as a #2 behind Wainwright, great as a #3 if Carp can come back. The only other big free agent I think the Cards should consider is K-Rod, but I'll describe tomorrow why I don't think that's a great idea.