A word to describe 2009 Cardinals: POTENTIAL.
How does one decide success? Although there is never a clear cut answer, Tony La Russa sure does know how to manipulate whatever system he has to in order to create it. Coming off a 2008 season that argumentatively was his best management job ever, the Cards have quite different outlook which should make it a little easier for La Russa now in his 14th year in St. Louis.
The powerhouse NL Central will certainly not make it any easier on this constantly evolving Cardinals ball club, but they have a lot to look forward to this season. Most will argue that Cardinals will go as Pujols goes, but I believe they will go as their disabled list goes.
A couple key names already included are Carpenter and Glaus, but Prince Albert has hit the DL a time or two the last couple years. Not to mention coming out of Spring Training this year, the previously troubled bullpen has taken a hit. Jaime Garcia, and Chris Perez both integral parts to the pen are both on the shelf right now. Chris Carpenter says he'll be ready to go at his scheduled start, and the Cardinals need him back in his 06 form (which has certainly been there this spring). Troy Glaus is out till June potentially, and I honestly had him pegged to have a huge comeback year. I question the reasoning he waited to have the surgery, but David Freese is certainly excited I'm sure.
This is going to be the second factor of St. Louis successes this year in how well the youth perform. The 'saving grace' Colby Rasmus made the squad this year along with Brian Barden and Freese. The reason this youth is so important is because it is basically all on the mound. Guys such as Motte, Garcia, both have less than 15 games experience, and Perez sits at 41 games total. Both Motte and Perez are both touted to have a shot at closing for the Cards in 09. Perez on the DL certainly gives Motte a shot, and after that you have Ryan Franklin who does not have closer stuff. The bullpen will be better, but not until it gets healthy. Watching Dave Duncan and La Russa work their mystical powers to hold it together will certainly keep you interested.
So the final verdict for the 2009 St. Louis Cardinals will come down to health and youth. Sounds familiar doesn't it? Seems like that's what every club is going through, and puts them on par terms with everyone else. Kind of sounds like a ton of POTENTIAL doesn't it? Oh Tony's going to have a big time in 09.