Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
The Cards' secret to success lies in the health of Beltran.
After losing Albert Pujols, arguably the best pure hitter since Ken Griffey Jr., to free agency, many thought the Cardinals, who had also lost manager Tony LaRussa to retirement, were due to have a rebuilding year. But, thanks to a late-season surge as well as breakout seasons by Lance Lynn, Kyle Lohse and Jason Motte, the Cardinals exceeded expectations, advancing to the NLCS for the second consecutive season.
But after losing Lohse and Lance Berkman to free agency and Chris Carpenter to injury (again), do the Cards have what it takes to repeat that unpredictable season?
Key Departures: Kyle Lohse, RHP (FA, 16-3, 2.86, 143K); Lance Berkman, 1B (FA, .259-2-7); Skip Schumaker, Utl (Trade w/ LAD, .276-1-28)
Key Newcomers: Ty Wigginton, IF (FA Phi., .235-11-43)
Impact Player: Carlos Beltran, RF—Beltran enjoyed his second consecutive healthy season in 2012, following two consecutive injury-plagued seasons. But the question on every Cardinal fan’s mind is: At age 36, how long can Beltran stay healthy? While no one can fill the shoes of Albert Pujols, Beltran tried to do the best he could, leading the Cardinals in home runs (32), his highest total since 2007. Beltran is the key to the Cardinals’ success.
Top Prospect: Oscar Taveras, OF—Although Taveras still has another year in the minors, he may be a September addition to St. Louis’ roster and may receive some playoff playing time. But right now, the 2012 Double-A Texas League batting champ is road blocked behind Beltran, Matt Holliday and John Jay.
- John Jay, CF (.305-4-40-19SB)
- Rafael Furcal, SS (.264-5-49-12)
- Carlos Beltran, RF (.269-32-97-13)
- Matt Holliday, LF (.295-27-102)
- Yadier Molina, C (.315-22-76-12)
- Allen Craig, 1B (.307-22-92)
- David Freese, 3B (.293-20-79)
- Ty Wigginton, 2B (.235-11-43)
- Lance Lynn, RHP (18-7, 3.78, 180K)
- Adam Wainwright, RHP (14-13, 3.94, 184)
- Jake Westbrook, RHP (13-11, 3.97, 106)
- Jaime Garcia, LHP (7-7, 3.92, 98)
- Joe Kelly, RHP (5-7, 3.53, 75)
Closer: Jason Motte, RHP (42 SV, 2.75)
The Good News: If Beltran, Holliday and Molina stay healthy, the Cards will be tough to beat.
The Bad News: With the losses of Carpenter and Lohse, the starting rotation has been worn a little thin.
The Reality: Each year, the Cardinals are a threat to win the World Series. Even though, on paper, it seems that the Cards have many holes to fill, they always find a way to come through. This year will be no different. Counted out by many, Mike Matheny’s Cardinals will find a way to win the National League Central in 2013, earning him National League Manager of the Year honors.
Projection: 94-68, No. 1 NL Central