Skip to content

2013 Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

Mar 24, 2013, 8:43 AM EST

molina getty Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Diamondbacks trade Mike Bolsinger to the Dodgers

    Nov 22, 2014, 10:35 PM EST

    Mike Bolsinger Mike Bolsinger

    The Dodgers added some pitching depth, picking up Mike Bolsinger from the Diamondbacks on Saturday.

  2. Wily Mo Pena is a free agent and the Twins are interested

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:30 PM EST

    wily mo pena reuters

    Wily Mo Pena could be back in the major leagues if the Twins are willing to play ball.

  3. Derek Jeter went golfing with President Obama

    Nov 22, 2014, 8:25 PM EST

    Derek Jeter AP AP

    Are they looking to hire a caddie?

  4. Rockies sign John Lannan to a minor league deal

    Nov 22, 2014, 7:20 PM EST

    John Lannan Getty Getty Images

    The Rockies added a bit of pitching depth, signing John Lannan to a minor league deal.

  5. If Giants can’t bring back Pablo Sandoval, they’re expected to bid on Yasmany Tomas

    Nov 22, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    yasmany tomas getty Getty Images

    The Giants have a Plan B if they can’t bring back Pablo Sandoval.

  6. Reds sign Josh Satin

    Nov 22, 2014, 1:13 PM EST

    Josh Satin Mets Getty Images

    Satin spent parts of the past four seasons in the majors with the Mets.

  7. Henry Blanco leaves Diamondbacks for Cubs coaching staff

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:12 PM EST

    Henry Blanco Getty Getty Images

    Blanco played for the Cubs from 2005-2008.

  8. Report: Twins win bidding for Korean pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:14 AM EST

    hyeon-jong yang Getty Images

    Yang won the Korean equivalent of the Cy Young award this season and the 26-year-old tops out at 92-95 miles per hour.

  9. Angels acquire Daniel Robertson from Rangers

    Nov 22, 2014, 10:15 AM EST

    Daniel Robertson Rangers Getty Images

    He figures to get a look as a backup outfielder for the Angels.

  10. Report: Red Sox make $95 million offer to Pablo Sandoval

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:10 AM EST

    Pablo Sandoval AP

    Boston is competing with San Francisco and San Diego for Sandoval.

  11. Mariners gain another option year on Danny Hultzen

    Nov 21, 2014, 10:55 PM EST

    Danny Hultzen AP AP

    The Mariners get an extra year to do whatever they want with Danny Hultzen.

  12. Jason Grilli a potential option for the Yankees

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:45 PM EST

    jason grilli getty Getty Images

    If the Yankees can’t bring back David Robertson, Jason Grilli could be one option the club could look at.

  13. Orioles sign Paul Janish to a minor league deal

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:40 PM EST

    Paul Janish AP

    The Orioles bolstered their organizational depth by signing Paul Janish on Friday.

  14. White Sox sign Adam LaRoche to two-year, $25 million deal

    Nov 21, 2014, 7:35 PM EST

    adam laroche getty Getty Images

    The White Sox have signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $25 million deal.

  15. Torii Hunter a back-burner option for Orioles, Giants

    Nov 21, 2014, 7:05 PM EST

    Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Indians Getty Images

    The interest in free agent outfielder Torii Hunter has been lukewarm, but he represents a decent Plan B or C for a handful of teams.

  16. Andrew Miller already has multiple three-year offers

    Nov 21, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    Andrew Miller Andrew Miller

    Andrew Miller is drawing significant interest in the free agent market, and he could even fetch a four-year deal.

  17. The Padres are making an offer to Pablo Sandoval today

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EST

    sandoval getty Getty Images

    Can you see that happening? I have a hard time seeing that happen.

  18. Rays have made Matt Joyce “available” for trade

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST

    Matt Joyce AP

    Joyce has been a productive regular for the Rays since 2010.

Featured video

Maddon has high hopes for Cubs
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. P. Sandoval (4447)
  2. G. Stanton (3382)
  3. J. Lester (3017)
  4. Y. Tomas (2829)
  5. R. Martin (2712)
  1. J. Heyward (2524)
  2. M. Scherzer (2327)
  3. A. LaRoche (2155)
  4. T. Hunter (2011)
  5. J. Upton (1999)