View Full Version : Spring Training Preview 3/12/05: St. Louis Cardinals

03-12-2005, 11:22 PM
St. Louis Cardinals

Key offseason additions:
SP Mark Mulder
SS David Eckstein
2B Mark Grudzielanek
RP Mike Myers
C Einar Diaz

Key offseason losses:
SS Edgar Renteria
2B Tony Womack
RP Steve Kline
C Mike Matheny
RP Kiko Calero
SP Dan Haren
SP Woody Williams

General Outlook:
The list of losses obviously has more talent than the list of additions. But how much did the Cards really lose? They added the ace that they needed for their pitching staff. They had some career years out of a few starters last year. With Mulder in the mix, some of the pressure is taken off the rest of the rotation. Their middle infield has changed. They're not going to get the same results from their new infielders, though they may not need it. Perhaps the biggest lost here is Mike Matheny. He was the leader of their team and controlled their pitching staff. The leadership issue shouldn't be much of a problem. Rolen will help take care of that along with LaRussa, of course. But Yadier Molina isn't as good of a catcher as Mike Matheny and he won't handle the staff as well. They suffered some key losses, but a few good additions along with their returning talent should keep them in contention all year long.

Possible starting lineup:
SS David Eckstein
RF Larry Walker
1B Albert Pujols
3B Scott Rolen
CF Jim Edmonds
LF Reggie Sanders
2B Mark Grudzielanek
C Yadier Molina

There's no doubt this will once again be one of the best lineups in baseball. No team can match their 3-4-5 of Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds. A healthy Larry Walker makes the lineup much scarier. Tony Womack gave them a huge boost out of the leadoff spot last year. But really, that was a career year from Womack and there was no guarantee he would repeat that success. David Eckstein should put up similar numbers for them in the leadoff spot. Renteria's loss will hurt. But having Larry Walker for a full season - if healthy - will help them replace Renteria's numbers. Molina is an offensive upgrade over Matheny and Sanders will provide some occasional power. Their offense should perform at a similar level as last year.

Possibly starting pitching rotation:
Mark Mulder
Chris Carpenter
Jason Marquis
Jeff Suppan
Matt Morris

They've actually upgraded their rotation from last year. Mulder over Williams not only gives them a true ace, but also a left-handed starter. There are some obvious questions about their starters, though. Carpenter and Marquis both put up some very unexpected numbers. Can they come close to repeating those? The key here is Matt Morris. Mulder figures to pitch much better. But if Matt Morris can continue his quick recovery from shoulder surgery and bounce back from his poor 2004 showing, they won't need Carpenter and Marquis to be as good. Mulder and a healthy Morris at the top of the rotation will make it easier for the Cards to survive if Carpenter and Marquis post ERAs closer to 4. That's not to say they will. Both have always had the stuff to become successful starters, but could never put it all together. These two could be Dave Duncan's newest success projects. Their bullpen suffered a couple losses. Kline and Calero both pitched very well for them in making their bullpen a strength last year. But with Isringhausen, Tavarez and King, they have the start of a solid bullpen. The addition of Mike Myers helps soften the blow of losing Kline, though Eldred might not have much left. They could use one other righty to step up, but their bullpen should be good enough regardless.

Overall Prediction:
1st place; 97-65

Player that will surprise:
C Yadier Molina - Ok, it's kind of hard to find a player that will surprise given how well all their players played last year. But I'll give the next Molina brother the nod here. He should give them more offense from the catcher spot than they got last year. Not like they need more offense...

Player that will disappoint:
RF Larry Walker - This is kind of tough given the talent they have. So I'm going with Larry Walker here just because I don't think he'll make it through the whole season healthy. He already got a late jump on ST because of a back strain. It doesn't seem very likely that he will get through an entire six month season without seeing some time on the DL.


03-12-2005, 11:38 PM
I pretty much agree with everything there. They should be the favorite. However, if Mulder is the Mulder of the last two months of 2004, they could have problems because I don't see all their other starters being quite as good as they were last year.

I also think Molina will not be as big a fall-off defensively from Matheny as some think. He supposedly has a cannon and should be able to throw out runners as well as Matheny did. There's no doubt that they'll miss Matheny's game management ability- that was a huge reason for the success of their starting rotation last year. I would say the player that will disappoint will be Chris Carpenter, who I think may experience a Loaiza-like return to earth.

03-13-2005, 02:59 PM
I agree with the analysis. I think that the Cards aren't getting as much credit as they deserve, especially since the Cubs are in their division. That rotation will surprise a lot of people this year. Marquis and Carpenter should develop into very good pitchers.