Saint Louis Cardinals Last Year: 86-76 4th in NL Central This Year: 4th in NL Central
The Cardinals go about things differently than any other team. They bat the pitcher 8th, they fill the outfield with slow, plodding sluggers, moving Schumaker to second base, and they released Adam Kennedy on February 2nd. There seems to be a method to the madness with Tony LaRussa winning 7 division titles and 1 World Series in 13 years with the Cardinals. The question now is how much of his success is simply due to having the best player in baseball in Albert Pujols.
Opening Day Lineup w/Projections 2B Skip Schumaker .297 7 HR 44 RBI LF Rick Ankiel .267 23 HR 67 RBI 1B Albert Pujols .341 43 HR 127 RBI RF Ryan Ludwick .291 33 HR 105 RBI C Yadier Molina .297 7 HR 72 RBI 3B Joe Mather .252 17 HR 58 RBI SS Khalil Greene .243 15 HR 59 RBI P Chris Carpenter CF Colby Rasmus .253 12 HR 57 RBI
Rotation RHP Chris Carpenter 14-7 3.34 ERA 157 K RHP Adam Wainwright 15-8 3.57 ERA 128 K RHP Kyle Lohse 9-10 4.45 ERA 118 K RHP Todd Wellenmeyer 11-9 3.96 ERA 127 K RHP Joel Pineiro 6-11 5.15 ERA 84 K
CP RHP Chris Perez 3.97 ERA 28 SV 63 K
Best Case Scenario: Colby Rasmus burts on to the scene and wins the NL Rookie of the Year. Carpenter finally stays healthy. Wainwright finally becomes the staff ace and Cy Young contender they were hoping for. Schumaker works at 2nd base. Troy Glaus comes back in May and returns as a force in the middle of the lineup. This team contends for the wild card and 90 wins.
Worst Case Scenario: Rasmus is not ready for the majors and spends the majority of his time in AAA. Wainwright and Carpenter both go down with injuries leaving Kyle Lohse as the staff ace. The defense is brutal with all the position changes. Pujols elbow flares up hurting his production. Glaus can't stay healthy and Ludwick comes back to earth. This team struggles to be .500.
Player Most Important to Success: Chris Carpenter. He has made only 4 starts in the last two years. He is now 33 years old which will not help him stay healthy. When he was healthy he was one of the best winning the Cy Young in 2005. If he can get healthy and give the Cardinals good innings with an ERA around 3 this team could be dangerous. Him and Wainwright will be able to win games that their offense could not provide. If he goes down or struggles this is a mediocre pitching staff to go with bad defense and nonathletic sluggers.
Outlook: This team has the best player in baseball and one of the best of all-time. That cures a lot of ills. He is also a gold glove defender which can not be said of anyone else on the team not named Molina. Ankiel has an arm but I would not be comfortable with him, Ludwick, and Duncan patrolling the outfield. This team has a lot of injury questions. Glaus, Carpenter, Wainwright, Ankiel, and Pujols are all injury risks. This team is going to have to slug their way to success and while that is possible I just don't see that happening for a staff counting on Kyle Lohse to repeat is career year. As a Twins fan I just don't see how you can ever be successful relying on Kyle Lohse.