Next up on the “30 Teams in 30 Days” schedule are the St. Louis Cardinals. After a disappointing season in 2010 which ended the Red Birds season earlier than expected, the Cardinals have made some interesting moves in hopes that this is the difference between the playoffs and beach volleyball in October.
Unsettled: The infield and Colby Rasmus. One of the biggest problems St. Louis has had is getting some kind of offensive production from their infield outside of Albert Pujols. The Cardinals are hoping that Schumaker produces like he did in ‘08/’09 and Theriot gives them the kind of production he used to have in Chicago (.280 avg, 20 SBs and 80 runs). Colby Ramus had a interesting 2010 in which he saw an increase in stats pretty much across the board but also managed to get in Tony LaRussa’s dog house. One of the brighter spots in the first half of the season, Rasmus found himself getting benched in the second half even as the Cardinals were falling out of first place. Rasmus needs to stay on the field and cut down on his strikeouts before we see a breakout from this possible star.
Target: Pujols and Holliday are the best players on this team and if you want them, you will have to move quickly as both are early targets for most owners. Rasmus has pretty good value for a guy who could give you 30 HRs and 20 SBs any day now. Lance Berkman in the right situations can still produce, give him enough AB against RHP and we could see 20 HRs and 70 RBIs which is good value from a guy who can be had in the bottom third of the draft.
Unsettled: Forearm problems caused Kyle Lohse to lose significant time last season, and when he did pitch, it wasn’t pretty. Lohse doesn’t have a lot to offer but needs to show that he can stay healthy and that he still has the tools he had in 2008 when he won 15 games with a 3.78 ERA. Jamie Garcia had a spectacular rookie season but still has things to work on and a repeat is unlikely. Two things concern me going into 2011: Innings jump and WHIP. Young pitchers tend to have problems the year following a major innings jump and Garcia’s ERA is unsustainable unless he can cut down on his walks. The good news is that Garcia has plenty of talent, and if he stays healthy an ERA around 3.50 is within reach.
Target: Just like the Cardinals hitters, Wainwright and Carpenter are two of the best. Both are ranked fairly high with Wainwright being drafted as early as the 3rd SP off the board in some drafts. Jake Westbrook was a quiet pickup last season and should continue to see improvements with another year learning under Dave Duncan. Westbrook, a sinkerballer, fits the Cardinals groundball philosophy and should be a solid late round pick especially in deeper leagues.
The 8th and 9th Innings
Chasing Saves: Ryan Franklin is solid but unspectacular. He won’t overpower anyone but uses his control to get guys out, usually through his defense. If either of these (control or defense) falter, then things will turn pretty ugly. If that happens, Jason Motte is the most likely to replace Franklin. Motte can hit triple digits with his fastball and with good control; he looks the part of a future closer.
There is a lot to like when you look at what the Cardinals bring to the table. They have a pretty good shot at making a playoff run, but they will need their offense to show up for them to make it beyond the first round. That being said, it is no guarantee as both the Brewers and Cubs got better in the off-season and the Reds aren’t going away anytime soon.
Sean Brown is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Sean in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of MaudDib.
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