St. Louis Cardinals: Analysis and Prediction at Every Position for the Champs

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IJanuary 16, 2012

St. Louis Cardinals: Analysis and Prediction at Every Position for the Champs

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    The reigning World Series Champion Cardinals have undergone many a change in the past few months.

    Albert Pujols, an 11-year Cardinal veteran widely considered the best player in all of baseball, departed for a huge payday in Los Angeles. Three-time World Series winning manager Tony LaRussa finally ended his lengthy and memorable tenure with the Cards, calling it a career after becoming the third winningest manager of all time.

    This team is full of champions that possess a wealth of experience and talent. They will put their skills to the test under new bench boss Mike Matheny, who has yet to call the shots for even one major league game.

    After the loss of Pujols it was believed that management would go after Prince Fielder to fill the gap at first. Stealing Fielder from the rival Brewers not only would have secured that position for the better part of a decade, but it also would have dealt a blow to the reigning NL Central Champs that they, in all likelihood, could not recover from.

    It was not to be.

    Instead the Cards signed former Astro and Met Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal. Beltran will patrol the corners of the outfield this season and next. The team, on offense, more or less stayed the same.

    Pitching, on the other hand, saw many spare parts from the past championship run leave through free agency, with starting pitcher Edwin Jackson all but assured to leave once a team offers him the bloated contract agent Scott Boras will get his client.

    The predictions for the 2012 Cardinals are based on a 162 game appearance schedule, as it would be in a perfect world with each pitcher getting their usual starts on rotation without missing a beat.

Catcher: Yadier Molina

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    2 World Series Championships

    4 Gold Glove (C) Awards - Note: Molina has won this award four years in a row

    3 All-Star Nominations


    2011 Stat Line

    .305 - 14 - 65

    The best defensive catcher in baseball and one of Tony LaRussa's favorite Cardinals, Yadi is still quite a young player at 29 years old.

    Yadi batted .333 in last year's World Series with an amazing 9 RBI. Yadi brings the clutchness and experience at one of the most vital positions in the game.

    Should Jason Varitek retire, Molina would be the only active catcher in baseball with two World Series rings.


    2012 Prediction

    .299 - 11- 58

First Base: Lance Berkman

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    1 World Series Championship

    2 World Series Appearances (Houston)

    2011 Comeback Player of the Year

    6 Al-Star Nominations


    2011 Stat Line

    .301 - 31 - 94

    The Big Puma will move from outfield to replace St. Louis legend Albert Pujols at first base.

    Berkman rejuvenated his career with the Cardinals last year. After burning out with the Yankees, Berkman came cheap to an old foe in the Cardinals, a team he had faced and beat many times before during his long tenure in Houston.

    Berkman's heroics and superb play won him the 2011 Comeback Player of the Year, an award on which he hopes to build on in the upcoming season.


    2012 Prediction

    .280 - 21- 85

Second Base: Skip Schumaker

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    1 World Series Championship

    2011 Stat Line

    .283 - 2 - 38

    Schumaker recently signed a two-year extension with the Cards, and although second base will likely be platooned this year, Schumaker remains the man in St. Louis until someone can displace him.

    Skip is a great utility man who is capable of everyday play. He was a vital part of beating the heavily favored Phillies in the NLDS and would have continued to do great things last postseason if not for injury.


    2012 Prediction

    .290 - 4- 64

Third Base: David Freese

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    1 World Series Championship

    2011 World Series MVP

    2011 NLCS MVP


    2011 Stat Line

    .279 - 10 - 55


    Freese is already a legend in St. Louis. After hitting an all-time World Series record 21 RBI and saving the Cards' bacon in Game 6, Freese has become a man of folklore in his short career.

    The sting of losing Pujols isn't so bad when many believe that St. Louis already has their next superstar, who is already proven on the starting lineup.


    2012 Prediction

    .302 - 40- 110

Shortstop: Rafael Furcal

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    1 World Series Championship

    2000 NL Rookie of the Year (Atlanta)

    2 All-Star Nominations


    2011 Stat Line

    .231 - 8 - 28

    Furcal was brought in on cheap last season in a trade that sent cash and a prospect to Los Angeles for the aging shortstop. Rather abysmal in the postseason, Furcal made up for it in some ways with his defense.

    St. Louis signed Furcal to stay on board as the incumbent shortstop for the next two years.


    2012 Prediction

    .250 - 6- 50

Outfield: Carlos Beltran

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    6 All-Star Nominations

    3 Gold Gloves

    1 Silver Sluggers

    1999 AL Rookie of the Year


    2011 Stat Line

    .300 - 22 - 84

    Beltran is an old nemesis of the Cardinals from his days as a member of the Mets and Astros, and a man many Cards fans, yours truly included, may not be happy to see in Red and White.

    Beltran is still an above-average hitter; however, at his age his elite fielding skills have declined. Beltran will move to a rather crowded outfield but is most likely assured an everyday roster spot due to his contract.

    Beltran is the only everyday batter on the roster who was not a member of the 2011 Championship Team.


    2012 Prediction

    .300 - 29- 92

Outfield: John Jay

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    1 World Series Championship


    2011 Stat Line

    .298 - 14 - 64

    In 2011 Jay was the Cards' ironman, playing more than anyone else on the club.

    With Colby Rasmus gone, Jay looks to fill the void still felt for an everyday center fielder when Jim Edmonds departed.

    Battling with John Jay is World Series hero Allen Craig.


    2012 Prediction

    .285 - 21- 77

Outfield: Matt Holliday

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    1 World Series Championship

    2 World Series Appearances (Colorado)

    4 Silver Sluggers

    5 All-Star Nominations

    2007 NLCS MVP

    2007 NL Batting Champion


    2011 Stat Line

    .296 - 22 - 75

    Although he was a disappointment in the World Series, Holliday was his usual self in the NLCS where had won honors before during his 07' World Series run with the Rockies.

    Holliday was supposed to be the man in the middle of the order that would convince Pujols to stay long term, but now Holliday will either find himself as the third man in order or backing up new star David Freese.


    2012 Prediction

    .310 - 35- 100

Pitcher: Chris Carpenter

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    2 World Series Championships

    2005 NL Cy Young

    2004 & 2009 Comeback Player of the Year

    3 All-Star Nominations


    2011 Stat Line

    11W - 8L - 3.45 ERA - 1.26 WHIP

    Now the elder statesman of the Cardinals, Carp is the definition of an ace.

    Not only did the former Cy Young winner win two games in the World Series, but he also outdueled Roy Halladay and shut out the Phillies in the NLDS in a Game 5 where nobody in their right mind would have put money on Carp and the Cards.


    2012 Prediction

    20W - 10L - 3.00 ERA - 1.12 WHIP

Pitcher: Adam Wainwright

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    1 World Series Championship

    2009 Gold Glove

    1 All Star Nominations


    2011 Stat Line


    One luxury the Redbirds have is being able to say they have two aces.

    Wainwright is an instant Comeback Player of the Year candidate should he stay healthy. Before Adam's shoulder got hurt he had back-to-back Cy Young-worthy seasons and won 39 games.

    Adam Wainwright is the number one pitcher of the future once, and if, Carp decides to hang 'em up.

    The biggest addition the Cards "made" all year was getting a healthy Wainwright ready to go for Spring Training.


    2012 Prediction

    22W - 8L - 2.89 ERA - 1.09 WHIP

Pitcher: Jaime Garcia

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    1 World Series Championship


    2011 Stat Line

    12W - 7L - 3.56 ERA - 1.36 WHIP

    Garcia exceeded all expectations last season for a pitcher of his age. Currently the number three man in St. Louis, Garcia has all the makings of a future 20-game winner.

    Garcia was the second Mexican to start a World Series game in MLB history.


    2012 Prediction

    15W - 12L - 3.25 ERA - 1.25 WHIP

Pitcher: Kyle Lohse

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    1 World Series Championship


    2011 Stat Line

    14W - 8L - 3.39 ERA - 1.17 WHIP

    Lohse is a decent pitcher who should never be slotted above the 4-5 position in a rotation.

    Fortunately Lohse picked up his game last year in Adam Wainwright's absence and had a bounce back year after a horrible 2010.

    Lohse did not win a game the entire postseason. Don't expect him to start a postseason game should all pitchers remain healthy, even if he does win 10-15 games. Case in point: Jason Marquis of the previous championship Cards.


    2012 Prediction

    10W - 10L - 3.88 ERA - 1.52 WHIP

Pitcher: Jake Westbrook

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    1 World Series Championship

    1 All-Star Nomination


    2011 Stat Line

    12W - 9L - 4.66 ERA - 1.53 WHIP

    Westbrook may or may not be the Cards' fifth man this season depending on his performance in the spring.

    Westbrook, once a star with the Indians, has had his career unravel due to injuries. He did have a decent outing as a back of the rotation man in 2011, but his roster spot could easily be relegated to the bullpen if a young prospect impresses manager Mike Matheny.


    2012 Prediction

    5W - 8L - 5.50 ERA - 1.90 WHIP

Manager: Mike Matheny

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    4 Gold Gloves


    2011 Stat Line


    Matheny is currently the youngest manager in the pros and is taking over a World Series Championship team and replacing a three-time World Series Champ manager; Tony LaRussa, who was also one of the most winningest managers of all time.

    No pressure.

    Matheny beat out the likes of Terry Francona and 3rd base coach Jose Oquendo to win the job as bench boss for the Cards. Matheny has never managed a game in his post-player career.

    Matheny will have the luxury of playing against the (presumptive) Fielder and Braun-less Brewers, a regressing Cincinnati squad, the Pirates, the Cubs and the gutted Astros.


    2012 Prediction


    NL Central 1st Place