Questions for the Cardinals

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

Have the St. Louis Cardinals rebuilt their rotation?

The answer is yes, but what's left of the St. Louis bullpen is a question for another day.

Cards general manager Walt Jocketty landed Mark Mulder from the Oakland A's, however, the price was steep. Gone are relievers Kiko Calero and Danny Haren, while lefty Steve Kline left via free agency. The Blue Jays bid on Kline, but he signed with the Baltimore Orioles.

After watching his starters struggle against Boston Red Sox hitters in the World Series, Jocketty knew he needed an ace. Mulder fanned 580 hitters in 859 innings with the A's the previous four seasons, going 17-8 with a 4.43 earned run average last year.

Mulder was 21-8 when he finished second in the Cy Young award race, then went 19-7 and 15-9 the next two seasons.

Behind Mulder come returnees Matt Morris (15-10, 4.72), Chris Carpenter (15-5, 3.46), who was injured and could not pitch in the Series, Jeff Suppan (16-9, 4.16) and Jason Marquis (15-7, 3.71).

Pitching coach Dave Duncan doesn't see any reason why the Cardinals can't repeat the team ERA of 3.75. That mark was second in the league, behind the Atlanta Braves.

Duncan said none of his starters had career years. "They didn't do anything they weren't capable of doing," Duncan said. "They were conscientious from start to finish about their approach.

"If these guys stay healthy, I think we'll be at the top of the league in pitching. Going in we expect to have a good staff."


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