Chris Carpenter's absence in 2013 has all but guaranteed that the starting rotation will be a huge focus of reporting early in Spring Training and throughout the season. If things go poorly, his absence will likely be pointed at as an indicator (despite the fact that the Cardinals did reasonably well without him last year).

It's manifesting early with the heavy scrutiny of a dismissive Jaime Garcia. After suffering a tear in his shoulder last season, Garcia is now connecting with "easy, fluid mechanics" and insisting that everything feels good. Whether Garcia shows durability in 2013, it is worth noting that Garcia has topped 150 innings twice in his 7 year professional career. He's suffered a season ending elbow injury and he's been bumped from a myriad of starts due to minor ailments.

But maybe 2013 will be more like 2010 & 2011 despite a tear in the shoulder that was treated without surgery.

The team hopes that Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook can record some long starts to give the bullpen abbreviated days as the rotation turns. The same applies to Lance Lynn whose question is whether he can perform over 200 innings like he did over roughly 160 last year. Another question is if Lynn can keep away from the cheeseburgers.