One of the major story lines this Spring Training will be how the Cardinals pitching staff will do without the leadership of Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan. Mike Matheny and Derek Lilliquist take over a veteran starting staff who all pitched multiple seasons under Duncan and a bullpen that will need little extra coaching, since if anyone steps out of line Chris Carpenter will just [BEEP]ing lose it.
Duncan's repertoire was converting middling pitchers such as Jeff Suppan, Woody Williams, Braden Looper, or Kent Bottenfield into serviceable starters. While we do admire Papa Dunc's ability to polish a turd, his best pitchers were the talented ones.
Cause like grandpa always said: "You can't fix Kip Wells."
Below are the ten best seasons a starting pitcher who ended the season eligible for the ERA title had under the La Russa/Duncan regime.
The names are not surprising, though I do wonder how the 1997 Cardinals weren't better considering they had two of the best pitching performances of the La Russa/Duncan era (oh, right... the offense -- sans Lankford -- made Aaron Miles look Pujolsian.)
The standout stat in there is that in 2009 Chris Carpenter held opponents to a .581 OPS. The only player to have a .581 OPS that season was Chris Young. The pitcher.
This also illustrates how great it will be to have Adam Wainwright back and (hopefully) fully healed.
Now for the worst ten seasons:
Matt Morris make both lists twice, showing why he was once a beloved up and coming ace and then later a beloved grizzled old veteran that we were glad to see the Giants mysteriously overpay for. Jason Marquis also makes the list twice, which is not surprising. And there's Kip Wells, who is just the worst.
The only active pitcher to make the list is Jake Westbrook, who somehow finished below replacement level last season. This explains why he decided to show up this season in the best shape of his life and also why John Mozeliak is still thinking about signing Roy Oswalt.