The Cardinals added a Cy Young Award winner to their rotation for 2009. Chris Carpenter.
No, he wasn't an offseason signing or a part of a blockbuster trade, he is just healthy again and one of the biggest bright spots of the new season in St. Louis.
But there is still a lot of things that have to go right for the Cardinals in 09.
1. Pujols can't be the only source of offense. Ludwick and Ankiel have to come out of what appears to be unavoidable arbitration with their bats swinging. The addition of Khalil Greene should provide another solid bat in the lineup.
2. Starting rotation has to stay healthy. Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are the top two in the rotation, but the rest have to be solid and everyone has to stay healthy.
3. Finishing games. The Cardinals will have a new look in their bullpen and it wont include long time closer Jason Isringhausen. It appears the youngster Chris Perez is going to step into the role. As a young, talented pitcher he will be looked upon to help secure wins.
4. Third Base Questions. Troy Glaus might not be healthy to start the season at third base. Brian Barden might be stepping into that position. Naturally a short stop the youngster will have a chance to prove himself. He played in just nine games during the 2008 season.
5. Win on the road. The Cardinals were 11 games over .500 at the new Busch Stadium, but were one game under .500 on the road. If the Cardinals can keep winning at home and add more wins on the road they can be a potent force in the NL Central.
The Cardinals finished fourth in the division last year. But the Cubs had a season of the century (almost) and the Brewers don't have the pitching they did last season. This is the year for the Cardinals to win the Central again, or at least place in the Wild Card as they did in 2006.