So, after a brief period of whispers and speculation, the official word is out that Adam Wainwright will require Tommy John surgery on his elbow. The only detail left to fill in is when he'll go under the knife, and according to Joe Strauss, he'll go under the knife next Monday. The Cardinals won't confirm the report, but the Cardinals are just like that sometimes, and Strauss is 100% confident he's right.
The operation will be performed by Cardinals team physician George Paletta. Interestingly enough, Paletta has already performed ligament replacement surgeries on teammates Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Kyle McClellan, so Wainwright can rest assured that he's in good hands. Tommy John surgery is a major operation, but it's one with an excellent rate of success, so he should be all right in due time.
So the Cardinals will look to survive without their best starter, and Wainwright will eye the 2012 season for his return. It's worth noting that this surgery has an effect on Wainwright's contract. Previously, Wainwright vested a $9 million option for 2012 and a $12 million option for 2013. However, because he'll finish the 2011 season on the disabled list, the Cardinals may choose to void them, as per a specific built-in clause. Whether or not they will is, of course, up to them, but they will now have that choice.