CARDINALS: INSURANCE FOR IZZY?
The World Series champion Cardinals entered spring training knowing they might need bullpen help.
Suddenly, their situation is more urgent:
# Right-hander Josh Kinney, a candidate for the setup job, will undergo elbow-ligament transplant surgery and is likely out for the season.
# Right-hander Jason Isringhausen, recovering from hip surgery, still must prove that he is capable of reclaiming the closer's role.
# Right-handers Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper, a pair of converted relievers, are making strong bids for the rotation.
Rangers right-hander Akinori Otsuka is one possible target for the Cardinals, according to a major-league source. But the teams have not discussed a trade involving Otsuka, two other sources say.
It's doubtful the Rangers would trade Otsuka until they were comfortable that Eric Gagne could be an effective closer and that one of their other relievers could handle Otsuka's setup role.
The Rangers are optimistic about their chances in the A.L. West, and their bullpen should be one of their strengths. Trading Otsuka would be counter-productive unless they received a very attractive return