2009 MLB Preview: #13 St. Louis Cardinals

Click Here to see Previews of all 30 MLB Teams

Offseason Movement: The biggest move the Cardinals made this offseason was acquiring former Padres’ shortstop Khalil Greene, who the club hopes will bring a little pop to the lineup. St. Louis also added pitchers Trever Miller and Dennys Reyes, the latter of which posted a 2.23 ERA in 46 1/3 innings last season in Minnesota.

Top Prospect: Colby Rasmus, OF
Rasmus isn’t just the Cardinals’ top prospect – he’s one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Although St. Louis is expected to go with Chris Duncan as their starting left fielder, Rasmus’ potential is going to force him onto the field in 2009. The 22-year old isn’t expected to produce a high average right away, but he flashes good power and speed, while his defense is above average as well. Rasmus is a stud prospect and could become a household name in the next couple years.

The Big Question: Is Chris Carpenter finally healthy?
The Cardinals’ ace pitched just one game in 2007 and four games in 2008. But so far this spring, Carpenter hasn’t allowed an earned run in 19 innings and his WHIP currently stands at 0.74. With Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse coming off solid 2008 campaigns, one would assume that if Carpenter were to stay healthy for an entire season, he could be the key to a postseason run. Then again, nobody knows what kind of form Carpenter will be in once the regular season starts. After all, he’s only pitched in five games in the past two seasons and is no 33-years old. Expecting him to win 21 games again like he did in 2005 would probably be unreasonable. But maybe the 15 games he won in 2006 wouldn’t.

Outlook: The Cardinals should definitely compete with the Cubs in the NL Central this season or at the very least, the Wild Card. But just because they’re contenders doesn’t mean that they don’t come without their question marks. Chris Carpenter has to stay healthy, Kyle Lohse has to prove that his 3.78 ERA last year wasn’t a fluke because he wanted a new contract (his career ERA is 4.67), and it remains to be seen if this club can succeed without any real base-stealing threats (leadoff hitter Skip Schumaker only swiped eight bags last season). That said, the Cards have one of the best pure hitters in all of baseball in Albert Pujols, will get decent power production out of Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick, Troy Glaus and Khalil Greene, and the starting rotation (assuming Carpenter stays healthy and both Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer did what they did last year) is pretty solid. Again, this club is a definite contender, but the Cubs are still the clear favorites in the division and the NL East has three postseason contenders themselves in the Phillies, Mets and Braves. So the competition for the NL Wild Card this year will be tough.

Projection: 2nd NL Central

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts