Kyle McClellan to get first shot at replacing Wainwright

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When the Cardinals announced last week that right-hander Adam Wainwright was going to need Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, many assumed that a free agent starter would be brought in to replace the injured ace. Kevin Millwood is still on the market, as is Jeremy Bonderman.

But the Cardinals have insisted that they are going to try internal candidates first, and we might have just found our front-runner.

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, right-handed setup man Kyle McClellan is going to get first crack at the vacancy left by Wainwright’s injury.

McClellan, a 26-year-old St. Louis native, was drafted and brought up through the minors as a starter. The Cardinals moved him to the bullpen in 2008 and have kept him there since, but they’ve flirted with the idea of trying him in the rotation in recent years and that flirtation is now going to turn serious this spring.

He possesses a fastball that typically clocks in around 90-93 MPH, a cutter that checks in at 87 MPH, and a hard-breaking curve. He also throws a changeup. It’s a quality and almost starter-like arsenal of pitches.

McClellan posted a stellar 2.27 ERA over 68 appearances last season, striking out 60 batters and walking only 23 across 75.1 innings of relief work. If things don’t go well for him in the rotation, the Cardinals will probably turn to youngster Lance Lynn. Or maybe they’ll take another look at the free agent market.

Note: Matthew Leach of MLB.com and a couple of other local St. Louis guys had this story first.

Matt Carpenter suspended one game for bumping umpire

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Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter has been suspended one game for bumping home plate umpire John Tumpane when he didn’t like a called strike three in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game against the Brewers. Manager Mike Matheny was also ejected along with Carpenter.

Carpenter will serve his suspension Tuesday night, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Through his first 69 nice plate appearances this season, Carpenter is hitting .236/.362/.364 with a pair of home runs and five RBI.

Dave Stewart says Diamondbacks’ early success is proof he was good as GM

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After the completion of the 2016 regular season, the Diamondbacks fired then-GM Dave Stewart and then-manager Chip Hale. Stewart acted as GM for two seasons. His most controversial move occurred in December 2015 when he acquired pitcher Shelby Miller and minor league pitcher Gabe Speier in exchange for outfielder Ender Inciarte and prospects Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair. After his firing, Stewart blamed his superiors for the trade and said his gut was telling him not to make the trade.

The D-Backs are now led by new GM Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo. The club had a relatively quiet offseason, as its biggest acquisitions were Taijuan Walker and Fernando Rodney. Defying expectations, though, the Diamondbacks enter Tuesday night’s action with a 13-8 record, just a game and a half behind the first-place Rockies. Stewart spoke to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports and said that the D’Backs’ success shows that he knew what he was doing all along.

This means a lot to me because this is the same team, or very close to the one that I put on the field. So basically all of those guys and baseball analysts who said I didn’t know what I was doing, it showed I knew exactly what I was doing.

Everybody was just beat up and not living up to expectations. So all of a sudden, it’s my fault. Well, it’s not my fault. I couldn’t prevent injuries or jump in their bodies to make them pitch better in the starting rotation. We put the right people on the field. So I don’t think anybody should be surprised how well those kids are playing. They’re healthy now. I knew this was going to happen.

Everyone should have seen it coming.

Not to rain on Stewart’s parade, but the Diamondbacks are five games over .500 in a relatively tiny 21-game sample size. Had his team valued analytics during his tenure, he might have known that. Additionally, few of the players performing well for the team right now are players Stewart himself was responsible for bringing to Arizona. Furthermore, the team’s success doesn’t retroactively justify what he gave up for Miller nor does it justify practically giving away Touki Toussaint and signing a 32-year-old Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract.

During and after his tumultuous tenure with the D-Backs, Stewart has appeared very insecure. When he was fired, he quipped, “Quite frankly, I’ve got better things to do.” He appeared on MLB Network Radio in February to deflect any blame directed at him for the team’s failure. And then there’s his most recent quotes in which he heaps praise on himself for the team’s success.

Stewart was an All-Star starter who finished in the top-three in AL Cy Young Award voting three times in his career. He’s understandably competitive and has probably built up a very strong distaste for failure. Sometimes, though, one has to make peace with the fact that things didn’t go one’s way. Stewart simply appears to be tilting at windmills to protect his ego.