During Spring Training, the undisputed ace of the St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff went down to injury, and required Tommy John surgery. While the recent recovery rates of the procedure are encouraging, it must have been a scary moment for the twenty nine year old pitcher, who signed a team friendly contract in 2008, and had never gotten the chance to test the free agent market.

How team friendly is the contract? Picking up the team option on Adam Wainwright’s next two seasons at $21 million, despite the possibility that he misses time next season as well, is a no brainer for Cardinals GM John┬áMozeliak. If only all of his decisions were so easy.

At the conclusion of this season, Wainwright will have been paid a total of $16.853 million by the Cardinals, including a $1.25 million signing bonus. Over that same period, despite having missed all of 2010, FanGraphs judges Wainwright to have performed at a level worthy of $78.8 million on the free agent market. In other words, the St. Louis Cardinals could pay Wainwright three times the $21 million option for him to not pitch at all over the next two seasons, and still break even on the deal.

Making the decision even easier is the fact that Wainwright’s recovery has gone exceedingly well.

While most of baseball has been focusing its attention on the rehabilitation of a certain pitcher in the Washington Nationals’ organization who’s scheduled to make his MLB return next Tuesday, Wainwright is quietly getting set to throw a bullpen session for the very first time.

MLB.com’s Matthew Leach gives us the details:

Wainwright’s current throwing sessions are intensive. Following a brief warmup, he makes 20 throws from 120 feet, then throws 10 times off a mound to a standing catcher. He takes a break, then repeats the 30 throws, takes another break, and repeats one more time.

He follows that protocol three times a week. Next week he will do something similar, but with the long-toss from 180 feet. The week after that, he will throw a side session — meaning approximately Sept. 12 — for his first time throwing a bullpen since his Spring Training Tommy John surgery.

I’m not sure when Benny Hinn became the head of the Cardinals training staff, but as amazed as we were with Albert Pujols miraculous recovery from a fracture in his wrist/forearm, Wainwright going from under the knife to a pitcher’s mound in less than 200 days is even more impressive.

And The Rest

My latest column for Baseball Prospectus is really kind of fun (and not behind a pay wall, for once).

Jesus Montero made his MLB debut last night, and is now obviously a warning against ever believing any hype whatsoever.

San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum could use your support.

David Einhorn backs slowly away from a proposed deal to give him part ownership of the New York Mets.

Frank McCourt has received a $1.2 billion bid for his Los Angeles Dodgers, backed in part by Chinese investors.

Speaking of the Dodgers, it’s homerism at its finest.

Struggling Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens will visit a doctor to get a second opinion on his ailing knee.

Not every home run pose is the same.

Keith Hernandez was a part of the most historic moment in the history of labour negotiations.

And finally, here’s part of our live stream from yesterday. According to one of the comments on the video page, we are all likable guys: