With the year’s end upon us, it’s time to begin another season of St. Louis Cardinals baseball. While fans of many teams in baseball start out the season with little to be excited about, Cardinals fans have good reason to be turning cartwheels in January.
Aside from being within one game of a World Series berth in 2012 when little was expected of them, in 2013 there is reason to expect this team to be even better.
The Tyler Greene experiment has come to a conclusion. The fans now know that the Cardinals can still compete at an elite level without Albert Pujols, Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan. David Freese played his first full season in 2012.
That’s a lot to be thankful for, but here are a few reasons for Cardinals fans to be pumped about the New Year.
4. Carpenter’s Return
Chris Carpenter managed a return in 2012, but he still wasn’t quite himself.
With a full offseason of recovery time and having pitched in October, he should be back in normal form for spring training.
While we don’t know how much longer he will pitch, as long as he is still throwing like himself and manages to stay healthy, we shouldn’t expect him to call it quits.
Carpenter’s role on this team, both as a pitcher and a teacher, cannot be overstated. Having that catalyst back for 2013 gives the Cardinals an edge up from the start.
3. Oscar Taveras
Fans have been hearing amazing things about him for two years, and there’s a good chance that in 2013 they will get their first glimpse of him.
The power-hitting 21-year-old outfielder had a 2012 line score of .321/.380/.572. He hit 23 home runs and piled up 94 RBI in 124 games at Double-A Springfield.
As a result, he was named the Texas League Topps Player of the Year.
Another exciting statistic regarding Taveras is the fact that in 477 at-bats he struck out only 56 times and drew 42 walks.
He may start the season at Triple A Memphis, but in the event of an injury, you can expect to see him in St. Louis before the All-Star break.
2. Healthy Wainwright
Adam Wainwright put together a very good 2012 for a player returning from Tommy John surgery. Throughout the year, he made marked strides toward getting himself back into form.
In 198.2 regular season innings, he held up a 3.94 ERA with 184 strikeouts.
No one doubts Wainwright’s ability, and in 2013 he should be back to the Wainwright of old.
Another winter of preparation and conditioning under his belt will make his 2013 the first normal offseason and spring training he’s had since 2010.
With free agency on the line and the first big day of his career, expect to see Wainwright leave everything on the field in 2012.
In late 2012, Cardinals fans got their first glimpse of two much-anticipated pitchers: Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal.
Both made their mark as they made their debuts and got the attention of not just Cardinals fans, but baseball fans around the country.
The potential ceiling for these two pitchers is as high as they want to take it.
The raw talent is there, and as they both continue to mature, both as pitchers and men, expect to see them harness that into memorable careers.
Both pitchers have impressive speed, with Rosenthal capable of crossing the 100-mph mark. As he learns to harness that it’s possible he could be more feared than Miller.
Miller, who made his first career start in the last regular season game of 2012, carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds. After a season surrounded by doubts and trade rumors, Miller showed the fans and front office in St. Louis that he still has it in him.
And he’s ready to keep showing it.
There’s something to be excited about in the weeks before spring training.