Mar 24, 2013, 8:43 AM EDT
Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The St. Louis Cardinals.
The Big Question: Can the Cards keep rolling?
The Cardinals have made the playoffs nine times since the start of the 2000 season and they have reached the National League Championship Series seven times in that span — securing three National League pennants and two World Series titles. And there is no end in sight for this run of success.
Yadier Molina is the best defensive catcher in baseball and has suddenly become a real offensive threat. Matt Holliday has hit .308/.389/.528 in 502 games since joining the Cardinals in a summer 2009 trade. Allen Craig is emerging as an elite slugger and Carlos Beltran had 32 home runs and 97 RBI in 2012.
And we’ve only scratched the surface on this club’s arsenal of heavy weaponry. Jon Jay (4.1) ranked just behind Josh Hamilton (4.4) and Adam Jones (4.6) on the center-field fWAR leaderboard last season. David Freese won the World Series MVP in 2011 then went on to post career-highs in home runs (20), RBI (79) and OPS (.839) in 2012. Matt Carpenter, who has made an incredibly smooth transition into the starting second base role this spring, batted .293/.372/.467 in 340 plate appearances as a utilityman last summer.
Albert Pujols is entering his second year in Anaheim and ace right-hander Chris Carpenter won’t ever pitch again, but the Cardinals organization is a well-oiled machine, and it’s greased up nicely for the 2013 season.
What Else Is Going On?
- The rotation is missing Carpenter, but he made only three regular-season starts last year anyway. Adam Wainwright is two years removed from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and Jaime Garcia has experienced no shoulder trouble in camp. Jake Westbrook had a 3.97 ERA in 174 2/3 innings last season and Lance Lynn posted a 3.78 ERA and 180/64 K/BB ratio in 176 frames. The final spot will either go to Joe Kelly, a solid sinkerballer, or Shelby Miller, one of the game’s top pitching prospects.
- The bullpen took a hit this month when closer Jason Motte was diagnosed with a mild right elbow strain, but it’s not a long-term concern at this point and there’s enough high quality depth to keep things ticking in his absence. Mitchell Boggs, who registered a 2.21 ERA and 1.05 WHIP across 78 relief appearances last season, will fill in at closer. Setting Boggs up will be young fireballer Trevor Rosenthal, and behind him you’ll find a solid group of middle relievers and left-handed specialists. Kelly will presumably join the bullpen in a long relief role if he loses out to Miller in the race for the fifth rotation spot.
- Rafael Furcal tried to rehab a torn ligament in his elbow this winter and it did not work out. He needs Tommy John surgery and will not appear in a game this season. Taking his place at shortstop will be Pete Kozma, who owns a nice-looking .303/.373/.506 batting line in 104 major-league plate appearances but a .236/.308/.344 batting line in 2,752 minor-league plate appearances. It’s highly likely that he will be exposed early on. Look for the Cardinals to launch a shortstop hunt by the end of June.
- The Cardinals’ farm system is widely considered to be the best in baseball, and it’s about ready to spit out some potential game-changers. Oscar Taveras, a 20-year-old Dominican outfielder, hit .321/.380/.572 with 23 homers, 37 doubles and 94 RBI in 124 games last season at Double-A Springfield. Michael Wacha, the No. 19 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, owns a 0.50 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 59/6 K/BB ratio in 35 2/3 total spring and minor league innings. Kolten Wong should develop into a solid everyday second baseman and Carlos Martinez is a hard-throwing 21-year-old righty with great upside. Matt Adams had 18 homers and 50 RBI in 67 games last summer at Triple-A Memphis and will open the 2013 season on the Cardinals’ 25-man roster. And don’t forget the aforementioned Miller and Rosenthal.
Prediction: Second place in the National League Central, winners of a Wild Card spot.
Mar 27, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT
There is only one reason a player should be tested for drugs as often as David Ortiz claims he has been: a previous positive test.
Mar 27, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT
Thanks to his mid-90s fastball and fantastic strikeout totals Salazar was a popular breakout pick for 2015.
Mar 27, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
No word on “yicketty.”
Mar 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
The Braves had one of the stranger off-seasons, both adding and subtracting players while also attempting to rebuild. How bad will they be in 2015?
Mar 27, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT
So far so good in Tanaka’s attempt to avoid Tommy John surgery.
Mar 27, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT
Good intentions are never enough.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
Howie Kendrick’s replacement.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Ludwick signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers in early February and it would have paid $1.75 million if he made the team at age 36.
Mar 27, 2015, 9:39 AM EDT
But it probably doesn’t matter because a reinstated Rose would be pretty limited to begin with.
Mar 27, 2015, 9:14 AM EDT
And 15 MLB teams are now worth at least $1 billion, according to Forbes.
Mar 27, 2015, 8:42 AM EDT
Dave Righetti thinks it may have to do with weight training.
Mar 27, 2015, 7:47 AM EDT
Kudos to Epstein for a good answer. Kudos to Schilling for a couple of more probing questions.
Mar 26, 2015, 11:02 PM EDT
In a first-person essay for The Player’s Tribune, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz came out swinging against his critics.
Mar 26, 2015, 9:50 PM EDT
The Mets are keeping an eye on the Dodgers and Rockies as they look to replace Josh Edgin.
Mar 26, 2015, 9:10 PM EDT
Are they ready to contend?
Mar 26, 2015, 8:29 PM EDT
Robertson signed a four-year, $46 million deal with the White Sox over the winter to be their new closer.
Mar 26, 2015, 7:31 PM EDT
After failing to reach an agreement with the Astros last year, unsigned No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken underwent Tommy John surgery.
Mar 26, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT
It will be Gallardo’s sixth straight Opening Day start and first as a member of the Rangers.
Mar 26, 2015, 5:32 PM EDT
Even after all of these years, baseball’s preeminent B.S. shoveler remains on top of his game.
Mar 26, 2015, 4:07 PM EDT
Which doesn’t mean that Citi Field has gotten less safe. It does mean, however, that the Mets will have a much harder job convincing people of that.
- Did David Ortiz admit to more than he realized with his Players’ Tribune editorial? 0
- 2015 Preview: Atlanta Braves 11
- David Ortiz: “Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me” 96
- 2015 Preview: Chicago Cubs 14
- Unsigned 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken undergoes Tommy John surgery 55
- 2015 Preview: Seattle Mariners 15
- Cardinals add “OT” patch for Oscar Taveras 76
- 2015 Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates 13
- College baseball player cut after making offensive tweet about Mo’ne Davis (115)
- Ex-Cardinals outfielder Curt Ford was assaulted in St. Louis and told to “go back to Ferguson” (115)
- David Ortiz: “Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me” (97)
- Mo’ne Davis says college ballplayer who wrote an offensive tweet about her deserves a second chance (88)
- Cardinals add “OT” patch for Oscar Taveras (76)