Carpenter out, Cardinals down

Carpenter Before we hit the panic button over this, it's worth remembering that the Cardinals won 86 games last season without getting a single solitary win from Chris Carpenter. Of course, they did get 15 wins from Kyle Lohse, 12 from Braden Looper (who's gone) and 13 from Todd Wellemeyer (who's Todd Wellemeyer). The conventional wisdom was that the Cardinals overachieved last season, and that they would need something extra this season to contend again for a playoff spot.
The extra was supposed to be Carpenter. Maybe it still will be. If he's back in a month, he might still win a dozen or so games this season. But he's not likely to be back that soon, and -- if history's any guide -- once he does get back, it won't be for all that long. So where does the extra come from, if not Carpenter?

Khalil Greene? Joe Thurston? I won't argue that the Cardinals need Carpenter; baseball doesn't work like that. But two weeks ago when spring was upon us and everybody was healthy, just about anything seemed possible for the Cardinals. Today, though, third place looks a lot more possible than first.