The St. Louis Cardinals seem to be practicing the old fantasy baseball strategy of “Studs and Duds.”
In this strategy, a team uses a very large amount of its auction dollars on a few superstars and then fills in the rest of its lineup with a lot of $1 and $2 players.
The idea is that the studs will pile up enough quality stats to allow the duds to fill in a little and put your team over the top.
Unfortunately, this strategy rarely works, and it looks like it will only work in St. Louis this season due to such a weak division.
The Cardinals will trot out the best one-two pitching punch in the National League in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. They finished second and third in National League Cy Young voting last season and should both be contenders again this season. Between the two they should pile up almost 35 wins, 350 strikeouts, and eat up over 400 innings.
After the two big dogs in the rotation, they get rather thin. They will trot out Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse, who have both had some success mixed with some disappointments; but neither is the kind of guy you want to rely on in Game Three of a playoff series.
On the offensive side, there may be no more dynamic duo than Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Both can hit for power and average and create a lot of runs. Unfortunately, there aren’t many other players around them who will be on base for Pujols and Holliday to drive home.
The left side of the infield is filled with question marks about who is going to play. Will Brendan Ryan be healthy enough to play shortstop, and can he actually use a bat? Can David Freese finally claim the third base job, and will his offense develop? If not, can Julio Lugo and Felipe Lopez fill in and play well enough to be respectable?
There are several positions where the Cards know what they have and how to use those players. Skip Schumaker ’s bat is solid but unspectacular, but will he continue to develop at second base? Ryan Ludwick looks like a good power hitter to slot behind Holliday in the batting order, but his monstrous 2008 season was probably the exception and not the norm.
Colby Rasmus is a good all-around player, but it doesn’t look like he will develop into the superstar that some minor league projections had for him. Yadier Molina won’t hurt you with his bat, but he isn’t a real threat either.
Will the duds do enough to put the Cardinals into a winning situation and slip by five weak foes in the NL Central? Probably. But are they good enough to make it out of the first round of the playoffs? Not a chance.
There once were some duds from St. Louie
Whose offense was very puny
But with Pujols and Holliday
They hope to rule the day
But they will struggle without enough quality