Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Overall – 69 points (25th MLB, 15th NL)
Starting Rotation – 22 points (28th MLB, 15th NL)
Line-Up – 28 points (27th MLB, 15th NL)
Bench/Bullpen/Defense – 17 points (T-3rd MLB, T-1st NL)
Offseason Additions – Troy Glaus, Kyle Lohse, Matt Clemenet
Offseason Subtractions – David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds, Troy Percival, Scott Rolen, Kip Wells
Biggest Strength– Championship Grace Period
The Cardinals are not going to be a very good team this year. But unlike many other teams who won’t be good (and many who will) Cardinals fans can still relish in the fact that they were, as recently as last year, defending World Series Champions. For those of us in Philly, we would certainly take a couple horrible years right after a championship if it meant getting a championship.
Biggest Weakness– Starting Rotation
Who knows when Chris Carpenter will be back, Mark Mulder has been a total bust since coming over from Oakland, Braden Looper was a bad reliever and not much better as a starter, Anthony Reyes had a 6.04 ERA last year and doesn’t know how to bend his brim correctly, Joel Pinero hasn’t pitched 200 inning since 2003 and Kyle Lohse is so good it took till mid-March for someone to sign him. Oh well, atleast they have…
Key Player in ’08– Adam Wainwright
Wainwright, who just got a 4-year extension, is the Cardinals best and only hope of a dominant starting pitcher. He has a nasty curveball, and was impressive last year with a 2.71 ERA after the all-star break (3rd best in the NL). At 26, he is right at the age where pitchers break out and could be a huge bright spot in the otherwise questionable Cardinals rotation.
Player to Keep an Eye On– Rick Ankiel
Everybody knows his story. One of the best left-handed pitching prospects of the decade. Tears through NL line-ups, helping lead the Cardinals to the playoffs in 2000. In the playoffs, he has a legitimate mental breakdown and can’t stop throwing wild pitches. Never recovers and quits pitching and decides to be a hitter. He then goes through the Cardinals farm system AGAIN, surprising with his hitting ability. Then, after a call-up last year hits 11 HR and drives in 39 RBI in just 47 games, during which he was accused of using HGH in the minors. This spring, he is tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .380 with a 1.026 OPS in 50 AB. The way his story has gone, I could see him hitting 40 HR this year, or I could see him hitting .050, losing his mind, and retiring into obscurity.
Outlook/Prediction– 6th Place, NL Central. It’s hard to imagine the Cardinals being as bad as I think they will be because they’ve been very good for awhile. However, they still have arguably the best hitter in the game in Albert Pujols, arguably the best uniforms in the game, and arguably the best fans in the game, so I really don’t feel too bad for them.