The Cardinals. The pesky, annoying, fire-ant in your ass-crack Cardinals. These fucking annoying shits. In case you have forgotten, here was what ruined my postseason experience in 2012:
You had them right where you wanted them all along, didn’t you Matheny? Sure you did, you needle-dick. The day before, my Reds completed their collapse. I decided to cast my anchor to the Nationals and their red-assed manager. Things were looking great, and then suddenly it was over. I didn’t watch another full game the whole postseason. The Reds collapse combined with their arch-rival’s unlikely triumph was enough to make me sick.
It’s like; it was cute in 2011. I felt good for the Cardinals getting that title. Last year, those resilient little shits didn’t belong. I don’t care that they took the NLCS to seven games. That team out-kicked their coverage.
Now you’re going to try and tell me that the Cardinals have the best offense in the National League? With all due respect, I disagree.
I know this team well. I’ve watched a lot of them over the past decade. This is a fine organization from the top down, and their players will grind and represent their organization on the field with a lot of pride. They’ll get more out of less. Their role players will over-achieve. Their prospects will almost certainly all develop. Things go that ways for the lucky Cardinals. Thank God that guys like La Russa, Pujols and Carpenter aren’t there anymore. It makes the Cardinals a little more difficult to hate–but not much.
I’m here to tell you why the Cardinals aren’t going to win the National League Central after the jump.
Projected Starting Lineup:
The Cardinals have a veteran lineup that usually guarantees a tough night for any pitcher. They’ll grind out professional at-bat after professional at-bat and manufacture runs with the best of them in Major League Baseball. It would have been easy for this group to fold after Pujols left town, but they had a chip on their shoulder and almost climbed all the way back to the World Series in 2012. The Cardinals have a group of guys who are all capable of hitting .300 and shouldn’t hit much worse than .280. They’re really efficient in the box. Their .338 OBP last season was tops in the National League. Their 765 runs was good for second in the NL.
Jon Jay is actually a pretty good little lead-off hitter. He’s a .300 guy now that the cement has hardened. Only marginal power, but he’s just the kind of player the Cardinals need at the top of the lineup. If he goes anywhere near that .373 on base percentage he posted last season the Cardinals are set up to be in good shape. There’s thunder down the lineup as we get to the second man in.
Allen Craig is an absolute stud. I thought the Cardinals would miss Pujols less last year because David Freese would be the guy who develops into posting monster numbers in replacing him. I was partially right, but a lot of the replacement of Pujols’ production came from the bat of Craig. Craig OPS’d at an .876 clip last year and posted 22 home runs with 92 RBI in just 119 games. It’s scary to think about what he might do in a full season of work now that he has that shiny new contract.
Matt Holliday was his same old steady self last year. He’s the epitome of a three hole hitter, offering a near .300 average, 30 home runs, and 100 RBI production year in and year out.
So far, it sounds like I’m giving you reasons that the Cardinals will be successful instead of reasons that they won’t. We haven’t gotten to Carlos Beltran yet. Do you think Beltran can play in 151 games again this season? I don’t. I say Beltran plays in about 100 or so and then blows a tire. And when he does the Cardinals will replace him with one of those Bo Hart type white, undersized scrubs, and the guy will hold his own for a little while. But he won’t be Carlos Beltran from 2012’s production level.
Yadier Molina has slowly grown into the club’s cornerstone. He’s the type of player you build around. But the mileage on Molina’s body is going to catch up with him at some point. It’s inevitable. We would suggest that 2013 will be that year.
David Freese is another truly great player, but he’s made of glass too. He’s close to an ‘A’ bat when he’s healthy, but he’s a sure bet to get injured at some point during the season and even money to go down a couple of times for a week here and there.
I don’t like the Cardinals middle infield at all. Daniel Descalso and Ronny Cedeno aren’t going to scare anyone. Thank goodness the Cardinals didn’t land a significant upgrade at either spot to this point. Don’t be surprised when they sniff around every big name in the business at those positions to see what they can get done. You have to give the Cardinals credit, they don’t rest on their laurels when they know they suck at a spot. They will not settle for the bad production these guys will surely offer for long.
Projected Pitching Staff:
You see, I don’t like the Cardinals starting rotation at all. Keep me away from any of these guys in a fantasy baseball draft.
Now that Chris Carpenter has finally retired, you can expect Adam Wainwright to become the de facto Carpenter of the staff. By all accounts, Wainwright seems like his arm should be hanging by a string by now. He’s thrown a ton of innings in a short amount of time, but we expect him to improve upon last years numbers (14-13, 3.94 ERA) and somehow drag his tired arm to 17 or 18 wins like Chris Carpenter always seemed to do, rain or shine.
After Wainright, I just hate the rest of this staff. Jaime Garcia was disappointing last season as a whole, and only ended up making 20 starts due to injury. Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn overachieved last season. Lynn will not be as good as he ended up last year. He was extremely that the 3.27 walks per nine didn’t hurt him more with as often as he gives up home runs. Lynn lost some weight this off-season but we predict him to be among league leaders in home runs allowed in 2013 and he will slide back in his development.
Westbrook has been on his last legs for a long time. Guile and gas fumes will only get you so far in this game. Jake Westbrook is in for a rough ride in 2013.
So you’ve got three or four guys whose arms are pure spaghetti at this point; and a youngster in Shelby Miller that everyone is expecting way too much way too soon from. Even if Miller is impressive, the Cardinals will need to add another starter to compete with the other heavyweights in the National League, that’s a given.
I like closer Jason Motte, but the guy must throw the straightest 98 MPH fastball in the game. Guys love to mash his stuff deep into the night. He gives up a lot of big home runs at the wrong time. Their pen is always solidified by nice veterans and we’re high on Trevor Rosenthal just like everyone else. They always have a nice situational LOOGY (lefty one out guy) out of the bullpen that does his job well. A good pen won’t be enough to save this team this year.
Mevs’ Projected Record:
85-79, 2nd place in the NL Central
Look, I won’t ever feel bad for the Cardinals. If they’re terrible for the next 40 years, they’ve had a couple of memorable runs that no fan base should deserve in the way of happiness in such a short span of time. I’m sorry that Stan Musial died and all, but the Cardinals are the cat who long ago used up their ninth lives.
They’ll go through the season appearing at times to be a threat, mounting nice five and six game win streaks and holding steady in the standings. They’ll appear to be in the thick of the Wildcard hunt. When the smoke clears, a few key injuries along with sub-par pitching and poor players in their middle infield will be the damning quality.
And I don’t care a bit. That shit from the NLCS game five was so undeserving last year. This team should have been sitting at home, not allowing their fan base to enjoy seven more games of NLCS baseball after that unreal title run in 2011. Sports aren’t fair.