Article Written By: Manny Alcala
St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Record: 97-65 (1st place in NL Central)
Key additions: Peter Bourjos, Jhonny Peralta, Mark Ellis.
Key losses: David Freese, Carlos Beltran, Edward Mujica, Rafael Furcal, Fernando Salas, Jake Westbrook (unsigned), John Axford, Chris Carpenter.
Most important players for 2014: Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, Joe Kelly, Allen Craig, Matt Holliday.
This year looks bright yet again for the St. Louis Cardinals as they look for revenge this season after falling short in the 2013 World Series. Their lineup and starting rotation is filled with a lot of talent of which is mostly home grown. The biggest asset of this Cardinals team is their amazing pitching, both their starters and even their bullpen.
The Cardinals rotation will likely feature Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, and Joe Kelly, with Jaime Garcia also being thrown in the mix. This is probably one of the best, if not the best rotations in baseball. It practically has everything a team would want with an ace in Wainwright and a bunch of young power throwers after him.
We already saw what Michael Wacha can do as he out-dueled Clayton Kershaw twice in last season’s NLCS leading to an NLCS MVP award for Wacha. Now, Cardinals fans can only hope that he can keep his dominance throughout a full season as he only pitched 64.2 innings in the 2013 regular season.
St. Louis’ lineup is also a force to be reckoned with as they have been able to develop great players following the Albert Pujols departure two years ago. “Big City” Matt Adams is ready to play first base every day, and he surely has potential to hit 25+ home runs if he plays a full season. With Adams now playing at first base, Allen Craig will play mostly in the outfield. Craig is great in clutch moments as he had amazing numbers with runners in scoring position and it’s a sure thing that he hits over a .300 average.
The youngster Kolten Wong is ready to take over second base which will move Matt Carpenter to third base. Wong shows plenty of potential with the bat and is a speedy base runner, he could be a nice surprise for the Cardinals this season. Carpenter had a huge breakout year last season as he was one of the best second baseman in the league finishing 4th in the NL MVP voting. Don’t expect him to stop hitting after his transition to third base as he won’t be bothered by playing at the hot corner.
Remember that all of these previously mentioned players are all home grown, the Cardinals scouts and staff have done a really nice job at picking their talent. If you now add recently acquired players Peter Bourjos and Jhonny Peralta, then the Cardinals lineup is set. Bourjos is scary fast and will most likely hit lead-off for the Cards, and Peralta comes in at short stop, the position where the Cardinals had very little production from last season.
Players like Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday will continue their success and serve as very experienced leaders. Look for them to stay consistent with their batting statistics from previous years as the numbers show that both Molina and Holliday have maintained similar stats year to year in their careers.
The Cardinals are ready to make another run at the World Series championship. They have done a nice job in the off-season adding players from positions where they needed the most help. The Cardinals are very likely to repeat what they did last season, but will now look to be victorious in the World Series.