Assessing the St. Louis Cardinals: April Edition
After two weeks for the Cardinals, there have been good and bad things, promising and unpromising things, and most importantly, good and bad results. The good has been the hitting, especially the homers, and the bad has been the blown saves/losses by the bullpen.
Well, I might as well start with the most important player, Albert Pujols. He has four homers and 14 RBI (half have been in one game, however) so far this season.
My only worry with him is it seems like on some of his outs, he "goes" for a homer. The scariest thing about him though is he is not even at his best. His average is lower than his CAREER average and that isn't even mentioning his potential average.
Starting pitching gets a nod here. Knock out Todd Wellemeyer's 2009 debut and the starters have kept us in the ball game with Carpenter's zero allowed earned runs, Lohse's complete game, Wainwright's low E.R.A., Pineiro's two victories, and Wellemeyer's ability to bounce back from a slow start.
Ryan Ludwig has definitely been good with a 400+ average, 5 HRs, and 15 RBI. He has shut up the people proclaiming him a one-year wonder.
The reserves, minus David Freese, haven't just been promising; they've been good.
Joe Thurston, a long-shot at making the team, is batting, .345 with 6 RBI. Brian Barden is batting .405 with 4 RBI but more suprising 3 HRs. Brendan Ryan, despite the low average, plays anywhere on the infield, his defense is solid, and he has 1 SB. Lastly, Colby Rasmus has a .366 OBP, which wouldn't be too spectacular except his average is .235. Seven BBs is very promising for a Cardinals team that wants to have people get on base for El Hombre.
Injuries- Sure only Carpenter has gone down, but that was HUGE. It reaffirmed many people of his status: a better man's Mark Prior. Yes that is very harsh, especially with his Cy Young, and three good seasons, but injuries have plagued him EVERY other year. Troy Glaus has went from a possible return in May to a likely return after the All-Star break.
Rick Ankiel deserves a special section. Not only are his pure statistics bad (.182, 0 HR, 2 RBI), but he looks bad. He is 0-3 with the base loaded with 0 RBI and 1-7 with runners in scoring position. Plus he has eight strikeouts.
David Freese looked good early on. He was crushing the ball. But recently he has hit into double plays and struck out most of the time. I think that is due to little playing time and the hot streak of the other 3B candidates.
Starting pitching- This is more for the potential of what could happen. Adam Wainwright has lost a bit of control and has gotten away with it for the most part. That probably won't continue to happen, but if it does that would be scary.
Kyle Lohse is a scary No. 1 if Adam Wainwright can't hold it, but is a decent No. 2. Pineiro is extremely inconsistent and our fifth starter has yet to be determined, especially with P.J. Walter's shaky debut.
How will it work out?
Starting pitching is in both lists, so I'll start with the bad.
It won't get better than it is now, especially with Carpenter gone. And as far as I'm concerned, Carpenter is done. Yes, his ribs hurt, not his arms, but something else will likely get injured so I've counted him out. Wainwright will definitely improve without a doubt. Lohse will be steady. I don't see an 11-0 run with a All-Star pick, but he is consistent. Wellemeyer might improve on last season and if Carpenter truly is injured for a long time, he needs to be. Pineiro won't be any better. I see an occasional seven inning performance, but an occasional 7 ER performance as well. The fifth starter spot goes to Mitchell Boggs.
Albert Pujols/Ryan Ludwig will stay the same except the averages of both.
The bench is bound to cool down, which means good things for David Freese, who I think may lock down a starting spot with the opportunity. Ankiel will get out of his slump and I think Glaus comes before All-Star break as a sub and then starts afterwards.
But as you know, I don't believe Carpenter will make much of an impact on 2009 for the Cardinals...or 2010,2011, 2012.
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