Know Your Foe: St. Louis Cardinals Preview or Is The Devil Magic Still In Effect?

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The Cardinals hung in the NL Central and Wild Card races up to the final ten days of the season. They finished with an 83-79 record in 2017, good for third-place, nine games back of the Cubs. A blockbuster trade for Marlins slugger Marcell Ozuna was their biggest move of the offseason. Despite adding the young Ozuna the Cardinals have an aging core, especially mainstays Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. So are the purveyors of devil magic primed for another run at the Cubs?

Projected Starting Rotation

1. Carlos Martinez (R)

2. Adam Wainwright (R)

3. Michael Wacha (R)

4. Luke Weaver (R)

5. Miles Mikolas (R)/Alex Reyes (R)

Martinez, the ace of the staff, was up and down last year veering between lights out and pedestrian. Wainwright really showed his age in 2017 posting an ERA over five and FIP only slightly better. The loss of Lance Lynn and Mike Leake put pressure on Michael Wacha to move into the number three spot. Top pitching prospect Alex Reyes, rehabbing from elbow reconstruction, should get a shot at some point during the year.

Projected Starting Lineup

1. RF - Dexter Fowler (S)

2. CF - Tommy Pham (R)

3. 1B - Matt Carpenter (L)

4. LF - Marcell Ozuna (R)

5. 3B - Jedd Gyorko (R)

6. C - Yadier Molina (R)

7. SS - Paul DeJong (R)

8. 2B - Kolten Wong (L)

Marcell Ozuna becomes the force in the heart of the lineup. The ever salty Tommy Pham looks to build off his breakout season also moving Fowler off of center field. Paul DeJong already has a contract extension after his promising rookie campaign. The aging Matt Carpenter and Yadi Molina will need to contribute for the Cardinals offense to gel fully.

Projected Bullpen

1. CL - Luke Gregerson (R)

2. RP - Matt Bowman (R)

3. RP - Brett Cecil (L)

4. RP - Bud Norris (R)

5. RP - Ryan Sherriff (L)

6. RP - Tyler Lyons (L)

7. RP - Sam Tuivailala (R)

8. RP - John Brebbia (R)

Luke Gregerson, signed from Houston, appears to be the likely Cardinals closer in 2018. Bud Norris was another addition after his quality bullpen work in Anaheim. It's possible Alex Reyes could get a role in the pen as well.

Projected Bench

1. C - Carson Kelly (R)

2. 1B - Jose Martinez (R)

3. IF - Greg Garcia (L)

4. IF - Luke Volt  (R)

5. OF - Harrison Bader (R)

The Cardinals bench is right handed heavy as currently constructed. Garcia is a pesky pinch hitting option off the bench. The best power threat is big Jose Martinez.

Prediction

The Cardinals rotation is weaker than last season with the losses of Leake and Lynn. The addition of Marcell Ozuna is a significant boost to the starting lineup. The bullpen is not much different than the questionable model last year. The rotation will have to surprise to improve on last year's record. Third place in the Central, around the .500 mark seems about right, of course that's barring the supernatural.

 

Comments

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  • The Cubs put their boot on the neck of Cardinal Devil Magic back in 2015 and has kept it there ever since.

    Also, after last year's ass-whoopin', Cardinal Fan has not come around looking for a beer bet,

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    I will always remember that HR by Soler in 2015 which really seemed to be the moment that the Cubs started to own the Cards. It was glorious and I'll always be fond of Soler if for no other reason.

  • I thought Pham who was the one moved to center field

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    In reply to fedman:

    I knew Fowler moved off of center. I just assumed Ozuna who played center in Miami was taking over. Pham is the center fielder. Don't really like that move, but I changed it.

  • Without Randall Grichuk, the 'birds are only a shell of what used to be - against the Cubs, anyway.

  • You've got 26 slots, which seems about right for a team that steals scouting data, puts stick-um on chest protectors, and is rewarded with "small market" bonus picks. I think Manfred should make another Manfred rule to allow them to dress extra players and put someone in the dugout to tell Matheny, "Are you sure about that?" three times before every bonehead decision he makes. Anything for Jack Buck's little boy.

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    In reply to charactercounts:

    I did that on purpose. Wasn't sure if the Cards went with 13 man staff or not. So I went with both versions. So I was covered either way.

  • I predict cards 86-76 and be there to make things interesting. Just some random thoughts.
    I don’t buy Pham have the year he did last year.
    I thought Martinez was gonna start at 1b?
    I don’t think Wainwright is the number 2.
    I do believe Cards have some good young arms that will take over the 2-3 spot in the rotation.
    Is Reyes not ready to start?

  • Happily, St Louis stays irrelevant for the third year in a row.

  • Well, they don't look all that good on paper, but they never do. If the Cubs just worry about themselves everything should be fine.

  • Without pulling up reverse splits, Rizzo and Schwarber should see the ball well against the Card's starters.

  • I'm a little surprised that the Cards didn't do more this off season.

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    Chatwood struggled a bit in his last spring training warm up. Everything is hopeless and we should trade away our entire organization and fire upper management.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I've admitted on several occasions that my blinding love for the Cubs can sometimes cloud my judgement and rational talent evaluation, but I really like Chatwood. I get your sarcasm and agree. His stuff is nasty and I think our re-vamped infrastructure will get the most out of his natural talent. Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised, Cubs fans.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Yeah, I like what I've seen with him.

    Less humorous: Justin Wilson got blown up again (3 runs, no outs).

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    My Cubs blindness did take me into the territory of envisioning Wilson as a closer candidate rather than a typical bullpen flame-out. I have high hopes for both, but if I have to bat only .500, I guess I'm betting on Chatwood. But make no mistake, I believe in Wilson as well. I am full of the Kool-aid.

    Go Cubs!

  • The Cardinals will always lurk, but they aren’t the serious threat they were just a few short years ago. Will be interesting what they do near deadline. Buy or sell, or hang around in that WC pretender gray 3rd/2nd area...

    Brewers lineup looks threatening, but their rotation doesn’t scare me at all. Should be an interesting series coming up w/them.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Agree, I was surprised that they didn't go hard after Arreita. Brewers fans in Arizona this spring seemed convinced that Jake would not be needed.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I think they can see the Cubs are currently clearly the better organization. They could pretend to spend to contend (neat, huh? I just made that up), but they understand the Cubs are clearly the best organization in the NL Central. Maybe there are no quick fixes, and everything will go to cyclical domination that Sam talked about in today's Brunch.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I'm sorry, I just can't help myself and the inference of certain subjects into the conversations of common topics. We talk of collusion, or even salary manipulation. I'm making a stretch, but this just came on the radio:

    "It's time we stop, now,
    What's that sound?
    Everybody look what's going down".

    I certainly wouldn't equate baseball salary negotiations to actual war, but make no mistake, we are in a period of labor unrest. I think and hope our Cubs dominate and win two more Championships before the next work stoppage.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    For the same reason Cubs needed Darvish is also why I felt Brewers needed Arrieta or other pitcher for this season. Maybe they have a trade target or are “waiting until next year” :-0 to go for a big FA pitcher.

  • The Cardinals perplex me. There are really only two ways to look at their offseason 1) they had a plan for some FA that just didn't fall into a place of value to them from a salary standpoint 2) they just don't feel they're in an immediate position to challenge the Cubs and there are too many teams chasing the NL WC berths. Someone on MLB Radio last week suggested that it was the latter, but I'd have to suspect it's the former. You just don't give up after trading for 2 years of Ozuna right? Where's the sense in that?

    One of the things in looking at the Cardinals historically is that when they win they are almost always a "right mix" team in other words they are usually greater than the sum of their parts. Last year the mix was clearly off from the beginning which is why I never bought in to some of the chicken little-ism that was posted around these parts. They could get close but never sustain. This year there seemed to be some real ways for them to get better. If I had been them I would have signed Zack Cozart to play SS and then moved DeJong to 3B which seems like a better defensive fit anyway. You're talking about improving two positions there. I also would have signed Holland. With those additions plus Ozuna I think you might have been looking at a 90 win team, better than Milwaukee and certainly within shouting distance of the Cubs who I'm picking for about 95 wins. They didn't do any of that though. So to me they're both short of talent and still have "mix" issues. Ozuna is a great hitter, but there isn't a ton of lineup protection for him.

    As I type this though I'm reluctant to write these guys off entirely. I suppose Pham could duplicate last season, DeJong could be better defensively and they could use Alex Reyes as the closer when he comes back as a way to solve a problem and limit his innings. Lots of ifs though and while a healthy fear of the birds is natural those are a lot of ifs and as the saying goes if my grandmother had wheels she would have been a wagon. I'm not sure I see St. Louis' wheels.

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