St. Louis Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright soon to be at the Roger Dean Complex in Jupiter, FL gearing up for Cardinals official 2019 Spring Training to begin, February 13. Many fans are not sure the 37 year old should be considered 'rotation material' to begin his 14th season. But, with the others ~ Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez, Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, Austin Gomber, Daniel Poncedeleon, Dakota Hudson ~ he will be competing to make his case.
In my opinion, with the Legacy that Wainwright, along with catcher Yadier Molina, has built they both have earned respect and loyalty to be shown in the highest degree. Yes, a rare concept in this day and age of our current major league baseball - and, among the fan-ship in some cases. Not only as a player, but as a person of the "community". He and his family have given much to St. Louis and abroad.
For two players that have spent their time solely with one team ~ it is a must do. And, Wainwright is looking at this one contract year, agreed upon, that may truly be his last. He will give his all to show he is still worthy. The competitor he is, he holds belief in himself. However, with the afore-mentioned contract - I don't see him putting the team at risk just to accommodate him. No, he will prove he is ready to 'bring it on' - or, to be a very valuable relief factor for our Cardinals.
His last three seasons, a combined 4.73 ERA in a total of 62 game starts, leaves little confidence in our veteran by the doubters. He missed most of the 2015 season with an Achilles injury, but came back - in relief, only two innings at the end of the season with a 0.00 average and in postseason 5.1 IP/3 Hits/1 ER/6 SO with no walks issued for a 1.67 ERA. He has had five seasons pitching 200+ innings. Do I expect that now? Realistically, no. But, I don't ever count Wainwright out of the possibility.
St. Louis Cardinals Ace/RHP Adam Wainwright - in a trade with the Atlanta Braves sending RF J.D. Drew to the east and a prospect pitcher to St. Louis in 2003. Drew, holding a .289 BA/.512 SLG at the end of that season and we get a 'green horn' in return. All the grumbling was contained simply because our social media of today was non-existent 15 seasons ago.
Drew only played with the Braves one season before being shipped out to the Los Angeles Dodgers and later to the Boston Red Sox from which he retired in 2011 at the age of 36, 14 years later after a great career.
However, Wainwright has been a Cardinals since his arrival making his debut, September 11, 2005 at the young age of 24. Impressive in his two game appearances - two innings pitched - not so much holding a 13.50 ERA out of the bullpen. As time evolved, Cardinals fans begin to realize the trade with the Braves was in St. Louis' favor.
Cardinals fans began to embrace him in 2006 as he turned in a 3.21 ERA/75 IP. And fell in love with him as Cardinals 'closer' in postseason. His strikeout of Carlos Beltran, then with the New York Mets, put him on top of the mountain as "King".
NLCS Game 7: Wainwright fans Beltran, Cards Advance. (Click to relive again.)
And Wainwright was not done. 2006 World Series, Game Five ~ He closed the door on the Tigers to hand the Cardinals the WS Title.
He began his major league career in relief, but following the 2006 season, became a part of the Cardinals rotation where he has remained to date, save 2011 with Tommy John's surgery. Yes, with a few relief innings thrown in after coming off the DL. He spent his "journeyman", so to speak, five seasons in the rotation behind Cardinals "Ace" Chris Carpenter, his mentor. Did quite well holding a 3.18 ERA, 2007-2012. After C Carpenter announced his official retirement, 2012 due to his own injury history, Wainwright became Cardinals 'Ace' and proved himself worthy. In 2013, he brought his ERA below 3.00.
Post Chris Carpenter, Wainwright's 2013 season ~ 19-9/2.94 ERA/34 GS/5 CG/2 SHO in his 241.2 IP only allowing 223 hits while facing 956 batters. During his career, he has turned in 22 complete games with 10 shutouts. Even dealing with injuries - he has had five seasons with 200(+) IP. Four of those - 227 (+) IP.
In my opinion, Wainwright absolutely deserves our loyalty and respect for all that he has done for our the team. Granted he may not have the arm he once had ~ yes, missing most of last season due to an elbow issue. But, I challenge any fan to tell him ~ or Yadi ~ to take a backseat.
Not only from the hill has Wainwright shown his strength throughout his 13 seasons thus far, he has proven to be 'quite the hitter', too. He earned a NL Silver Slugger Award in 2017 - 42 AB/11 Hits/2-2B/2 HR/11 RBI for a .262 BA.
Another highlight ~ May 2, 2016 hosting the Philadelphia Phillies, he slugged out a three run homer to tie, for his seventh career home run, to date, in the Cardinals 10-3 win. One of my favorite Wainwright moments among many since 2005.
Yes, days of old ~ but our Wainwright has been a difference maker. Even with his last 'laboring' past three seasons on the mound, the four time Cy Young Award and MVP contender, three time All Star holds a career 3.32 ERA in 1932 IP/1623 SO ~ which he holds second place in strikeouts in Cardinals franchise history behind HOF former Cardinals Bob Gibson (1959-1975/age 39/17 seasons) with 3117 SO.
CARDINALS 2019 SPRING TRAINING
Our Cardinals will be competing for 'position' ~ offensively, defensively and pitching in the upcoming Spring Training camp. With an immense amount of respect for our Adam Wainwright, I do feel he will be right in the mix of it all. He's not ready to be 'kicked out to pasture' nor hang up his cleats.
And trust me, it is a lot of 'food for thought' when told ~ "You really should retire". Not an easy venture to digest readily.
Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @elichap822.
Not only myself, but check out our other writers here at CN24-7 and catch CN24-7 Network podcasts with Ron Nuttall and Derek King on Arch City @AaronArchCity ~ a new venue in the future.
You may listen to Friday night's coverage with guest, Craig Mish. (Click here for CN24-7 Network - episode 35)