Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Am I Being Too Hard on St. Louis?

Am I being too hard on the Cardinals? After all, they somehow won the World Series last year after I wrote them off as being too old and not having enough depth. Didn’t I learn my lesson last year? Apparently not.

This year, I'm predicting the Cards will end up in 4th place in the NL Central. They only won 83 games last year and they are not as good this year as they were last season.

Just look at the make up of the team. The Cards have two all-star caliber players in 1B Albert Pujols and 3B Scott Rolen.

CF Jim Edmonds used to be an all-star, but the poor guy is a physical mess. I’ll admit, I’ve underestimated Edmonds before, but he’s not getting any younger or any healthier. When it comes to Jim Edmonds, I’m bound to be right eventually.

Depending on who you listen to, Chris Duncan is either a superstar on the rise or a league average player that just had a nice debut season. I have a feeling that Duncan is going to be a decent hitting, weak fielding player, but he’s not the kind of player that can carry a team.

The other starting position players include right fielder So Taguchi (Juan Encarnacion is starting the season on the DL), SS David Eckstein, 2B Adam Kennedy, and catcher Yadier Molina. None of these guys are exceptional players or the type of hitters that strike fear into opposing pitchers.

What I’ve just described is the strength of the Cardinals. Their pitching staff is their weakness.

Chris Carpenter has put together a very nice career and can be counted on to have another good year. After Carpenter, the talent falls off precipitously.

Behind Carpenter is Kip Wells. Wells was 2-5 last year with a 6.50 ERA. For his career, Wells is 57-74 with a 4.46 ERA.

Next in line is 25-year old Anthony Reyes. He was 5-8 last year with a 5.06 ERA. There were times during the year that Reyes looked unhittable, but those spurts were few and far between. Reyes has a career record of 6-9 with a 4.74 ERA,

Then there is Adam Wainwright. Wainwright stepped in as the club’s closer last year after Jason Isringhausen went down to injury. Wainwright did an impressive job, but is the 25-year old ready to be a starter? Who knows for sure. He ended last season with a 2-1 record and an ERA of 3.12.

Finally, Braden Looper will fill the fifth starter position. Looper also pitched out of the bullpen for the Cardinals last year, going 9-3 with a 3.56 ERA. The 32-year old Looper has pitched in 572 games during the course of his career, but he has never started a game. He seems like an odd choice for St. Louis to count on as they start the season.

So the Cardinals will be trotting out Carpenter, who was 15-8 in 32 starts last year, and then four guys with a combined record in 2006 of 19-18 and a total of just 26 starts between them. This is not a rotation I would be excited about starting the season with.

Maybe I’m wrong about the Cardinals this year, but I don’t think so. The team has a lot of question marks and very few things to feel good about. I don’t see them finishing ahead of either the Cubs or Brewers, and I think the Astros will also have a better season than the Redbirds. Of course, as with so many things in life, only time will tell.


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