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David Brown

Cardinals become latest to experiment with John Smoltz

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You can fire John Smoltz(notes). He just won't quit. Not yet.

Hoping to have better results than the Red Sox did in tapping what's left in his well-traveled right arm, the Cardinals on Wednesday signed Smoltz to a contract for the rest of the season.

UPDATE: The AP reports general manager John Mozeliak as saying Smoltz would likely start Sunday at San Diego, and would probably get at least a few turns in the rotation.

The GM also said Smoltz didn’t ask to start as a "negotiating ploy."

"He had very little demands," Mozeliak said on a conference call. "He had no demands. From everything he had heard about this club, he was excited to take this opportunity. The reason for the start was just to get him work and know what we have."

Matt Leach at MLB.com speculates the Cards, who lead the Cubs in the NL Central by four games in the lost column, will use the 42-year-old Smoltz as a starter in the regular season. Then, come the playoffs — "when and if they make it" there — he would move to the bullpen.

UPDATE: Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gives an analysis of the Cards' rotation with him falling in line after Chris Carpenter(notes), Adam Wainwright(notes), Joel Pineiro(notes) and Kyle Lohse(notes).

Mozeliak said earlier in a statement:

"We feel that this is an opportunity to strengthen our pitching staff. When you have an opportunity to bring the expertise and experience of a future Hall of Famer to your club, it's easy to see why we are excited about the prospects of what John Smoltz can do to improve our team's chances as we approach the stretch drive."

The Red Sox were excited, too, but Smoltz's contribution to their pennant drive was mostly disastrous. Smoltz had an 8.32 ERA with a .968 OPS against in eight starts for Boston, which went 2-6 in those games.

It could be argued soon that Smoltz cost the Red Sox the playoffs. He certainly didn't make it easier for them to get there.

He did throw 92-93 mph and walked nine in 40 innings for Boston; good signs, usually, but ones that did not produce enough outs.

Smoltz has 15 postseason victories and was an All-Star as recently as 2007. Maybe he gets with pitching coach Dave Duncan, back in the National League, in less of a hitter's ballpark and the Cards strike gold.

Or maybe it's back to the Todd Well-emeyer.

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