I am an avid sports fan and I love ALL sports. However, baseball is different. I closely follow the entire MLB, but I have a serious relationship with the St. Louis Cardinals. There’s no doubt that the Cards are my favorite team in all of sport. The way I see it, the Cardinal fanbase is an illustrious group. The best in all of baseball.
Cardinal fans will pack the new Busch no matter how the team is doing. Over the past few years, even the World Series year, we have had some really tough stretches. I’d be willing to bet that it was still standing-room-only. For those of you that have had the privledge of being able to attend a Cardinals’ game, you understand what I am talking about. It doesn’t matter the quality of play that the Cardinals are playing at, we still have the best fans in the MLB.
This offseason has seemed very, very, very pointless for the Cards. At some times… Wait no, all times… it has been boring. St. Louis has signed a whole slew of great baseball players. My boy, Royce Ring, has recently been acquired. He torched the baseball world with an 8.46 ERA with the Atlanta Braves. Let’s give him a little credit though… He only played 22 innings all year and those stats are (hopefully) higher than they would be if he hung around all season. To think that an MLB pitcher would allow, on average, a point/inning, is hard to believe. But, hey, crazier things have happened.
We have locked in on a few other players. Khalil Greene leads the pack and he used to be great. He logged in a 27 HR, 98 RBI season the year before last. Not to mention, 36 year old reliever Trevor Miller. He is a career 4.45 ERA middle reliever, which is not that bad considering he's a reliever. We did resign Wellemeyer, Thompson, and Duncan, both on one-year deals. So no problem right? Ehh, I’m not sure.
There are some good things to look at. We still have, basically, the same team that won 86 games last year. 86 games, in some divisions, would have landed us a spot in the playoffs.
The Cubbies and the Brew Crew really haven’t done a whole lot either. Chicago actually lost their top prospect, Pie. It seems like all three NL Central contenders are kind of idling right now but I’m not convince that it will stay that way.
When you look at it, we really don’t have that bad of a team. Some people act like we are the Washington Nationals here with nothing to look forward to. Not true.
Pitching is going to be our biggest concern. There is talk of the Cards pursuing Randy Wolf, which would be a great move. What we have now though is looking like: Carpenter, Wainwright, Lohse, Wellemeyer, and Peneiro. Carpenter played great last year in the three starts that he did have, and they say that he will be 110% come the start of the season. Wainwright was injured part of 2008, but still recorded a solid 11-3 record. Lohse led STL in most major pitching categories with a 15-6 record and a 3.75 ERA. Wellemeyer was hot and cold with a 13-9 record but had a 3.71 ERA as well. I am anxious to see what Peneiro will do this coming year. He had a great 2007, but followed up with a very rocky ’08… So we will see.
The bullpen could be anywhere from the worst, to the best. Every team’s ‘pen looks that way before the season just because relievers are rarely consistent. The closer spot for us has yet to be filled. It could be another year of situational closing. I would go ahead put Chris Perez in there and give him the job he will have for plenty of years to come. But some people say Carp should be our 9th inning man. I do not like that change. Why take one of our best arms, put him in the closer role, and have the prodigy closer-to-be throw in the middle innings? Oh, Ryan Franklin you ask? NO. I don’t want to go through all that again.
Behind the plate, we have an all-star. Yadier Molina is in his prime. Not only is he the best defensive catcher in the MLB, his batting average as improved from .216 to .304 in the matter of two years. Remember the game when he threw the runner out falling down face-forward? Yeah, I know you do.
At first base, what is there to say? We have the best player in the MLB if you ask me. Two-time MVP award winner, Albert Pujols. I predict his best season so far and another MVP.
In the middle infield, we are really throwing the chips in. Adam Kennedy looks like the starter at second-base and he says that he is ready to contend against anyone who wants to compete with him at the position. Our new shortstop, Khalil Greene, used to be really good but has been on a slight decline lately. He put in a 27 & 98 season two years ago but had a terrible season in 2008 with a .213 average. He is a decent defensive player and is super fast, and often uses his hair as a cape..
Troy Glaus should keep his spot at third that he received last season. I almost screamed when I got a text today stating that he needs shoulder surgery, but thankfully he should be okay come April. Some people complain about his average, but I hate to tell you that it isn’t getting any better than the .270 he had last year. Everyone should be EXTREMELY happy with what he did last year. Not only did he defend the hot corner, he gave us his best offensive season since he was considered one of the heavy weights in the MLB.
The outfield is led by centerfield slugger Rick Ankiel, a man with a lot of potential in Skip Schumaker, and Mr. Ryan Ludwick. Rick just needs to do his thing, provide a huge bat, and gun down some more players. Schumaker busted through as a first-year starter and is now expected to do that. Ludwick guarantees that he will pop 50 homers this season and says him and Pujols will go 1-2 in MVP voting. What he needs to do is pull a Pujols-Rolen-Edmonds, and ask Ankiel if he feels like going 1-2-3 in voting.
If I am the one that you are talking to, I will say that the Cardinals are going to be fine. On the other hand, to be a true contender, we need to get pitching help. The way things are looking right now, I am predicting a neck and neck finish with us and the Cubs come September. Milwaukee is good but I think they will be what we were last year.
I have four words for you Mr. DeWitt and Mr. “Mo”, I want some Wolf. You do that, and hello Cubbies.