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.
Oct 23, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
The team may soon own the buildings across Waveland and Sheffield Avenues.
Oct 23, 2014, 10:42 AM EDT
Presumably, the Braves will also hire a general manager, giving them the two-headed front office we’ve seen in Chicago and will soon see in Los Angeles.
Oct 23, 2014, 9:56 AM EDT
And now he may be on his way to Korea.
Oct 23, 2014, 8:59 AM EDT
The Freak was back last night. And he did OK, though he left with a stiff back.
Oct 23, 2014, 8:26 AM EDT
‘Tis the season of overanalysis.
Oct 23, 2014, 7:44 AM EDT
The rookie didn’t have control. With his pitches or with his emotions.
Oct 23, 2014, 2:25 AM EDT
Petit deserves the nod over probable starter Ryan Vogelsong.
Oct 22, 2014, 11:34 PM EDT
Yordano Ventura held the Giants to two runs over five-plus innings and the Kansas City offense awoke for seven runs on 10 hits as the Royals evened up the 2014 World Series at a win apiece with a 7-2 Game 2 victory on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Oct 22, 2014, 10:40 PM EDT
The host Royals have the visiting Giants right where they want them in Game 2 of the World Series.
Oct 22, 2014, 9:48 PM EDT
Game 2 of the World Series has been a back-and-forth affair thus far, with the visiting Giants scoring single runs in the first and fourth innings and the Royals scoring in the first and second. It’s all square at 2-2 as the action shifts to the top of the sixth.
Oct 22, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT
Major League Baseball announced in April that two new regular-season awards would be handed out every year, going to the top reliever in each league. The NL’s award was named after Trevor Hoffman and the AL’s was named after Mariano Rivera. Here, via MLB’s Twitter account, are the first recipients …
Oct 22, 2014, 8:39 PM EDT
The Giants jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning Tuesday before eventually winning Game 1 of the World Series in a 7-1 rout. And they got off to another fast start in Game 2 on Wednesday night, but the Royals were able to answer right back.
Oct 22, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
Statcast, the new 3D tracking technology from MLB Advanced Media, gives us this unique look at Brandon Crawford’s rangy catch to rob Omar Infante of a hit Tuesday in Game 1 of the World Series …
Oct 22, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
Johnson was acquired from the Pirates last year.
Oct 22, 2014, 7:19 PM EDT
Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Phillies have signed catcher John Hester to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Oct 22, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
Dan Haren underwent arthroscopic surgery Wednesday on his left (non-throwing) shoulder. He’s expected to be ready for spring training.
Oct 22, 2014, 5:37 PM EDT
“I was doing some stuff in the training room.”
Oct 22, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
Not so long ago that option looked like it might be a bargain, as Burton went from scrap-heap pickup to one of the league’s best setup men, but he showed major signs of decline this season while throwing 64 innings with a 4.36 ERA.
Oct 22, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT
In other news: Homeland Security agents now conduct raids over things like minor copyright violations.
Oct 22, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT
Jake Peavy vs. Yordano Ventura.
- John Hart to be named Braves President of Baseball Operations 1
- No, Ned Yost didn’t “out-manage” Bruce Bochy. His players played better 27
- At least Hunter Strickland entertained us last night 20
- Royals even up World Series with 7-2 Game 2 victory 28
- Craig Kimbrel wins Trevor Hoffman Award; Greg Holland gets Mariano Rivera Award 5
- World Series, Game 2: Giants vs. Royals lineups 10
- HBT Daily: Are the Royals doomed, doomed, doomed? 11
- Giants inhaling the air of superiority after Game 1 7
- So, if you’re not a fan of the Royals or Giants, who ya got? (129)
- Erroneous Narrative Alert: no, the Giants are not a “gritty,” anti-stats organization (121)
- Pedro Martinez has some opinions about who the new “face of baseball” is (112)
- PANTY RAID! Homeland Security agents confiscate unlicensed Kansas City Royals underwear (103)
- “The Kansas City Royals Are the Future of Baseball” — someone actually said that. (93)