Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said he feared the worst when news of Adam Wainwright’s elbow injury surfaced yesterday and unfortunately it’s now official, as the team announced today that Wainwright will undergo Tommy John surgery.
He’ll return in 12-18 months with a big scar and a rebuilt elbow, but whether Wainwright will still be with the Cardinals remains to be seen. St. Louis can void their $9 million option for 2012 and $12 million for 2013 if he ends this season on the disabled list, which is now a given.
I wrote this morning about the various ways the Cardinals can approach the contract situation, but the short version is that they can void the deal and make Wainwright a free agent after this season, try to work out a new multi-year deal that includes less upfront money, or simply commit to paying him $21 million in the hopes he comes back healthy in early or mid-2012.
In the meantime the Cardinals have said repeatedly that they plan to replace Wainwright with an in-house candidate rather than pursue a veteran replacement such as free agent Kevin Millwood. That could change after they get a longer look at the various rotation possibilities in camp, but for now the injury creates big opportunities for guys like Kyle McClellan, Brian Tallet, Ian Snell, and Lance Lynn.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.