Selasa, 06 Maret 2012

Season Preview; Part 22, St. Louis Cardinals

2011 Record: 90-72

Pythagorean Record: 88-74
Games out of First: 6

2011 Recap

The 2011 Cardinals gave new meaning to the phrase "comeback kids". Seemingly out of the NL Wild Card race in early September, the Cardinals mounted a run for the ages. They swept the Atlanta Braves in St. Louis, in early September, and that helped jump-start their run. Aided by a collapse for the ages by Atlanta, the Cardinals won the Wild Card on the season's final day. A 8-0 win over the Astros, and a Braves lost to Philadelphia helped seal the playoff spot. Even the most optimistic of Cardinals fans could not have predicted what was about to take place. The Cardinals faced the Phillies in the National League Division Series. The Phillies had a much revered pitchign staff, and not many people the Cardinals to defeat them. In Game 1, Lance Berkman hit a 3-run home run off of Roy Halladay to give St. Louis an early lead. However, the wheels fell off later in the game and the Phillies won . In Game 2, The Phillies jumped out to an early lead against Chris Carpenter. Cliff Lee looked dominate. The Phillies looked like a lock to win the game as well as the series. But, again, the Cardinals rallied as Cliff Lee lost comand of his pitches. The Phillies offense became non-existent. The Cardinals won game 2. Ben Francisco belted a Pinch Hit 3 run home run and the Phillies held on to win a nail bitter in Game 3. The Phillies again got off to a quick start in game 4, and took an early lead. The Cardinals, aided by a David Freese home run, and a fantastic defensive play by Albert Pujols, took game 4 and sent the series back to Philadelphia. Game 5 was, quite simply, a classic. Long time friends Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter faced off. The Cardinals got a run in the first off of Halladay. Time and time again, Chris Carpenter stifled the Phillies offense and the Cardinals, shockingly, won game 5, 1-0.

In the NLCS, the dissmissed the Brewers in 6 games. Led on offense by Albert Pujols and NLCS MVP David Freese.

The Cardinals and Rangers met up in the Fall Classic, and split each of the first two games in St. Louis. In Game 3, the Cardinals offense exploded. Albert Pujols hit 3 home runs, becoming only the 3rd person ever to do so. The Cardinals lost game 4 and game 5 in Texas and fell behind 3-2.

Game 6 was anything but spectacular for the first 6 innings. Errors, misplays, and sloppy baseball kept the score even at 4. Texas broke out in the 7th on back to back home runs by Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. They added another run on an Ian Kinsler RBI single. Texas a 7-4 lead into the 8th, when Allen Craig homered off of Mike Adams to cut the lead to 7-5. Neftali Feliz came in to get three outs in the ninth. David Freese batted with 2 out in the ninth with two runners on. The Cardinals were down to their final strike, and Freese ripped a hit off the Right field wall. Two runs scored and the game was tied. Josh Hamilton ripped and two home run into the Right field seats and the Rangers lead again. In the bottom of the 10th, the Cardinals rallied again. They trailed by 1 run in the bottom of the tenth and Lance Berkman was down to his final strike. He hit a single to center and the game was tied again. In the 11th, David Freese hit a walk-off homerun and Busch Stadium went insane. Game 7 was a little less dramatic. The Rangers jumped out to an early lead again, but the Cardinals came back and sealethe deal for their 11th World Championship.

Offseason Overview

Obviously, the biggest news of the Cardinals was that Albert Pujols left the Cardinals for sunny Southern California. The Cardinals also lost their manager, as Tony LaRussa retired shortly after the World Series. Mike Matheny was named the new manger. The Cardinals brought in Carlos Beltran to replace some of Pujols' offense. Another big headline grabber was the extension of catcher Yadier Molina.

Notable Additions

OF Carlos Beltran

Manager Mike Matheny

LHP JC Romero

Notable Subtractions

1B Albert Pujols

Manager Tony LaRussa

RHP Octavio Dotel

RHP Edwin Jackson

C Gerald Laird

INF Nick Punto

LHP Arthur Rhodes

Projected Lineup

SS Rafeal Furcal

CF John Jay

RF Carlos Beltran

1B Lance Berkman

LF Matt Holliday

3B David Freese

C Yadier Molina

2B Skip Schumaker (!)


Adam Wainwright

Chris Carpenter

Jamie Garcia

Jake Westbrook

Kyle Lohse


Allen Craig

Daniel Descalso


Jason Motte

Fernando Salas

JC Romero

Mitchell Boggs

Roster Overview

Most of the members from the World Championship squad are returning. The biggest factor could be who is going to lead the team in the clubhouse with Albert Pujols' departure. Another will be if Lance Berkman will returnto his 2011 form. Nobody expected Berkman to have a big 2011. If Berkman can do well in the cleanup spot, he could help the Cardinals succeed in returning to the playoffs. The health of Carlos Beltran will be a top priority, too. If he can stay healthy and return to form, the Cardinals won't regret the signing. If he is injuried, they could be looking for a bat at the trade deadline. As far as the rotation goes, the health and well being of Adam Wainwright will be closely watched. Wainwright missed all of 2011 with Tommy John Surgery. If he can return to form, it will give the Cardinals a vaunted 1-2 punch in the rotation.

Potential Breakout

The eyes of the world will be on David Freese. After catching the eye of the baseball world, many will look toward Freese to have a breakout year in 2012.

Potential Bust

Carlos Beltran will be the key. He was aquired to fill in some of the gap from Albert Pujols' departure. If his injuries return, the Cardinals will find their biggest offseason aquistion sitting on the bench.


Record: 88-74

Team MVP: Chris Carpenter

Standings: 3rd

Final Pitch:

While the possibilty is there, it is unlikely the Cardinals will see a repeat in 2012. Albert Pujols' departure will be big on and off as field. The leadership roles of Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan will be missed. Expect them to finish 3rd behind Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

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