St. Louis Cardinals State Of The Union: 2014 Preview
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Much like the offseason of a year ago, St. Louis made little moves. Despite little deals made, big changes are coming to the way this team operates in 2014.
Just because the Cardinals will look different does not mean you should expect less success than that of their World Series run of 2013.
In fact, expect the 2014 Cardinals to capture their 12th World Series Championship this season.
Bold prediction or reality, you decide.
In the offseason, St. Louis sent home grown St. Louis native and former World Sereis MVP David Freese, and relief pitcher Fernando Salas out west to the Angels in hopes of bolstering an already deepened outfield. In return the Cardinals acquired two well respected outfielders: Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.
While, Bourjos may not be an offensive upgrade for the club he provides a massive defensive improvement that the Cardinals felt a viable risk to make.
Bourjos will take on the task of lightening the positions of Holliday and Craig.
With the latter having spent two months on the DL last season with a foot injury, he should settle quite nicely in right.
It’s worth noting that Holliday finished the 2013 season strong hitting .300, marking his 10th consecutive season hitting .290 or better.
St. Louis also has a highly touted outfield prospect on the horizon in Oscar Taveras.
He has been called the best hitting prospect seen by the Cardinals since former All-Star and MVP Albert Pujols.
At this point it isn’t a matter of if he will crack the Majors, but when. The infield for the Cardinals will look a lot different in 2014.
Matt Adams should take on the full role of the everyday first basemen.
With the departure of Freese, St. Louis opted to move Matt Carpenter back to his familiar role at third.
So, with Wong at second and Carpenter at third Mozeliak needed a more reliable offensive shortstop option.
Yes, Pete Kozma had an amazing run in the Postseason back in 2012. Let’s be honest though, that’s all he has done since.
With Kozma being a sore in the lineup, Moz and the front office went to work quickly and quietly to acquire Jhonny Peralta.
The Cardinals put aside his suspension and ties to the Biogenesis agency to get what they felt was a reasonable and cost-effective option to help improve their offensive numbers.
As a longtime Cardinals fan, I believe the front office has always put the best interest for the fans and the team first.
I believe Peralta’s days of PED’s rumors and ties are done. Let’s move on.
Do I even cover the catching position? Any person with any remote baseball knowledge knows that St. Louis will have the same person behind the plate they’ve had for years.
But just to make you happy I will.The Cardinals veteran catcher and fan favorite Yadier Molina will again be one of the biggest assets of the franchise this season.
Molina will not only do what he does best (throw runners out and manage the pitcher,) he will continue to improve at the dish as well, solidifying why he is now a perennial MVP candidate.
Okay, so here is what he have so far.
2014 Projected Starting Lineup
3B Matt Carpenter (L) .309, 115 Runs, 65 RBI
SS Jhonny Peralta (R) .275, 14 HRs, 72 RBI, 68 Runs
LF Matt Holliday (R) .299, 24 HRs and 89 RBI
RF Allen Craig (R) .313, 19 HRs 103 RBI, 78 Runs
1B Matt Adams (L) .270, 25 HRs, 81 RBI, 70 Runs
C Yadier Molina (R) .282/.350/.450, with 24 HRs, 70 RBI
2B Kolten Wong (L) .270, 63 Runs, 53 RBI, 17 SB
CF Peter Bourjos (R) .267, 77 Runs, 15 SB, 9 HRs, 42 RBI
After a dismal offensive season from Pete Kozma he will move to the bench after the acquisition of Jhonny Peralta.
Jon Jay will more than likely split the playing time with newcomer Peter Bourjos but that’s still up in the air.
Of course injuries may also play a big factor in that – or the emergence of Taveras.
If Jay comes off the bench more times than not, he will add valuable versatility for the Cardinals. In the past, he has tackled the role of utility quite well.
2014 Projected Bench
INF: Mark Ellis (R)
OF: Jon Jay (L)
INF: Daniel Descalso (L)
INF: Pete Kozma (R)
C: Tony Cruz (R)
Now, here comes probably the most interesting part of this team. The St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals will not have a familiar face in the rotation after longtime Cardinal Chris Carpenter retired during the offseason.
First off, this Cards pitching staff doesn’t look a whole lot different from that of last season. However, they have incredible potential.
Last season, a pitcher 26 or younger started 109 games of the 162 and 50% of the innings were thrown by rookies in the World Series.
Shelby Miller (23) won 15 total games over the course of the 2013 season.
Factor in all of these young arms for a full season behind Adam Wainwright (32), who tied for the NL lead in wins (19) and led in innings pitched (241.2) and you have a deadly rotation.
St. Louis will have its usual ace, Adam Wainwright, in the number 1 starting spot. From there on out it gets interesting.
Reigning MVP of the NL Championship Series, Michael Wacha ended the regular season with a near no-hitter and then won his first four postseason starts will likely be the number 2 starter.
Rotation spot number 3 could be taken up by NL Rookie of the Year finalist in 2013 after he knotted 15 wins while posting a 3.06 ERA in 31 starts for the Cardinals.
Given the right circumstances, Miller could flirt with CY Young candidacy this season. I have high hopes for this young arm.
Lance Lynn, along with Wainwright, leads all NL pitchers with 33 wins over the previous two seasons, and one of two Cardinals pitchers to log 200 innings in 2013 (which coincidentally is also Wainwright) should plug in nicely at the number 4 slot.
The fifth, and likely the final, spot in the rotation (because I don’t see St. Louis having a 6 man rotation) will be held by right-hander Joe Kelly until lefty Jamie Garcia is healthy after suffering discomfort in his throwing shoulder during Spring Training.
Until Garcia returns, Kelly should repeat the success he had in 2013 when he posted a 3.03 ERA and 10 wins as a starter.
Look to find him in the bullpen once Jamie Garcia is healthy again.Left-hander, Jamie Garcia will likely take over the fifth spot after undergoing left shoulder surgery and entering this season with an ERA south of 4.00 in each of his last four seasons.
Overall, the Saint Louis Cardinals could and most likely will have the best starting rotation in the National League if not in all of Major League Baseball.
Look for this rotation to have three or four 10 game winners this season.
2014 Projected Starting Rotation
Adam Wainwright: 18-10, 3.03 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 205 K’s
Michael Wacha: 13 – 7. 3.41 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 165 K’s
Shelby Miller: 14-10, 3.71 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 181 K’s
Lance Lynn: 14-9, 3.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 196 K’s
Jamie Garcia: 7-6, 3.75 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 95 K’s
Joe Kelly: 9-7, 4.03 ERA, 1.39 WHIP 65 K’s
Trevor Rosenthal (23) recorded 108 strikeouts over 75 1/3 innings in 2013.
The last week of the regular season Rosenthal took over the closer job and assumed the position in the playoffs. During that span he threw 14 2/3 scoreless innings.
As he assumes the role of closer, he will undoubtedly continue his success.
The rest of the bullpen will look very similar to last season.
The only major difference is Motte becoming a full time reliever instead of the closer.
Kevin Siegrist (LH) could see himself as the setup man for Rosenthal after he emerged in 2013 with a 0.45 ERA in 45 appearances.
In just 39 2/3 innings last campaign, he fanned 50 batters while having a WHIP of 0.882.
2014 Projected Bullpen
(RH) Trevor Rosenthal (Closer)
(RH) Jason Motte
(RH) Carlos Martinez
(RH) Seth Maness
(LH) Randy Choate
(LH) Kevin Siegrist
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com ***
Picture Captions were also contributed on this piece by ‘Chief Writer’ Hunter Stokes.
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A big thank-you goes out to Our ‘Guest Cardinals Writer‘ Steven Hines for preparing today’s featured article. Steven is from the Natural State (Arkansas).
He became a Cardinals fan in 1997 because of his late mother who was an avid fan. His passion for St. Louis Cardinals baseball grows more and more each year.
This past July, Stephen was given the opportunity to participate in a Pop-Up Challenge at Busch Stadium from a facebook contest he won. This was a dream come true.
Stephen’s favorite current Cardinal is Adam Wainwright with his all time favorite Cardinal being Jim Edmonds.
You can reach Stephen on Twitter Follow @hinesis2nd
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Posted on March 12, 2014, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions and tagged 2006 World Series, 2011 World Series, 2014 St. Louis Cardinals Preview, 25 man roster St. Louis Cardinals, @hinesis2nd on twitter, adam wainwright, albert pujols, allen craig, biogeneis, boston red sox, Carlos Martinez, chris carpenter, Daniel Descalso, david freese, fernando salas, Jaime Garcia, jason motte, jhonny peralta, joe kelley, john jay, John Mozeliak, kevin siegrist, kolten wong, lance lynn, mark ellis, Matt Adams, matt carpenter, matt holliday, michael wacha, mike matheny, NL Central, oscar taveras, pete kozma, peter bourjos, randal grichuck, seth maness, shelby miller, stephen hines, Tony Cruz, trevor rosenthal, www.shinesuncovered.com, yadier molina. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.