To lead you into the MLB season Stoop Sports’ MLB staff is embarking on a 30 day journey, where we will give you pre-season profiles of all thirty teams. Each writer was given the artistic liberty to format their previews to their liking. Enjoy, and happy spring training!
Last year, the St. Louis Cardinals had to prove that giving up Albert Pujols wasn’t a huge mistake. As it turned out, it didn’t really push the Cardinals too far back at all. St. Louis made it to the NLCS last year before losing to the defending champion San Francisco Giants in seven games, proving that despite the loss of Pujols, there is still talent on this team.
Cardinals Position Players
You won’t find any downright superstar on the Cardinals’ roster. What St. Louis does have is a bunch of guys who can do the little things to win baseball games.
Here is a short breakdown of the top position players for the Cardinals heading into the season.
Matt Holiday pulled off a tremendous season last year with Albert Pujols gone, posting 27 home runs with 100 RBI’s. It’s surprising because Pujols was an intricate part of Holiday’s production, but now that Holiday has become the big bat in the lineup the pressure isn’t fazing him. This is going to be a very important season for Holiday. At 33, he is reaching the later stage of his career and it’s going to be interesting to see whether last season was a fluke, or a model of his production in the seasons to come.
The MVP of the 2011 World Series has somewhat dropped off the map in St. Louis. Since David Freese earned that honor, the expectations jumped a bit too high. Freese is a solid piece to this team but he’s never going put up superstar numbers. He’s going to stay around 20 homeruns and 80 RBI’s at best. But if he consistently puts up those figures, he will be doing his job and keeping this team a contender.
Carlos Beltran was a monster for the Cardinals last season, and the addition greatly made up for the absence of Pujols. Injuries in recent years have hindered his well-known status, however after last season’s performance (32 home runs and 97 RBIs), he’s now regained that All-Star potential.
The Cardinals starting pitching is a huge concern of theirs this year.
Chris Carpenter is most likely out for the entire 2013 season with neck, shoulder, and arm problems. Adam Wainwright was one of the top pitchers in baseball until he underwent Tommy John during the 2011 season, and was unable to solid comeback in 2012. In 2010, the righty won a career best 20 games. Then, after the injury in 2011, he fell off of the so-called “elite starting pitchers status” with a 14-13 record. Expect Adam to have another inconsistent and average year with St. Louis.
Westbrook wouldn’t be the right fit because he’s way up there in age and all he really does is pitch to contact, hoping for groundballs.
Lance Lynn is an interesting component to this Cardinals team. Although he put up a career best season last year, there are still some flaws in his game. Lynn had a poor earned run average, above 3.50. If he lowers this and displays another consistent 15+-win season, he is well on his way to becoming the ace of this staff in the future.
Jaime Garcia anchors the 5th spot in the rotation, but with a little concern. Garcia was injured part of the season last year, and the games the southpaw started were also a struggle.
There could be some good news coming for St. Louis. Shelby Miller is sitting on the outside looking in, but there could be a place for him down the road in the rotation. Miller has electric stuff and he’s only 23.
The Cardinals have a really great closer, but other than that nothing is eye popping in their pen. Jason Motte is very reliable at the back end. Last year, he was officially announced as the closer and saved 42 games.
St. Louis has a lefty specialist in Mark Rzepczynski, but last year he struggled with a high ERA. A guy that could really surprise and save this bullpen is Mitchell Boggs. In 78 appearances last year, he had a sub 2.50 ERA.
Overall the bullpen isn’t going to be able to provide the consistent stable innings like other teams, and it will be up to the starters to pitch deep into games.
There may be some competition in the outfield towards the second half of the season. Top prospect Oscar Taveras has impressed everyone in the Cardinals organization with his speed, range in the outfield, and power at the dish. Last year, Taveras hit 20 plus home runs, drove in 94 runs, and stole 56 bases in AA. Expect a midseason call up and for him to impact the Cardinals right away.