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Cardinals Look Like Team to Beat

Leslie MonteiroSenior Analyst ISeptember 16, 2009

East Coast bias runs rampant in sports; especially in baseball.

So its not a shock to hear pundits figure that the World Series trophy will be hoisted by either the Yankees, Phillies or Red Sox this fall.

Lately, the Yankees and Red Sox seem to be the experts' pick to win the World Series. Well, that's actually the case year after year considering their high payrolls; not to mention being rich with young talent in their farm system's.

But one team many forget about it is the Cardinals; and that's a fatal mistake.

There's no question the Yankees look like an impressive team by winning most of their games due to their pitching, defense and hitting, and your truly wrote in another site that the Yankees were the team to beat few months ago.

With that said, things change.

At the trade deadline, the Cardinals decided to act seriously about winning a championship by acquiring Mark DeRosa, Matt Holliday, and Julio Lugo, in an attempt to improve their offense along with giving Albert Pujols protection in the lineup.

Since then, the Cardinals went 20-6 in August and nobody wants to face them in October.

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Their starting pitching has been superb all season, and anytime a team like the Cardinals have co-aces in Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, their chances of winning postseason games are good.

They also have a good back-end of the rotation that features Joel Piniero and Kyle Lohse. Their bullpen is effective too.

Cardinals pitching can be relied on to do well thanks to Dave Duncan's work in getting the most out of his pitchers. Duncan did just that in 2006 when the Cards won the World Series with scrapheaps.

Critics wonder if the Cards could keep this up with their lack of hitting. No one talks about that anymore after the additions they made, as they complemented their speed players with home run hitters.

This team is much better than the 2006 team when one looks at both the starting rotation and lineup. That 2006 team overachieved and got hot at the right time in October.

The Phillies and the Dodgers offer challenges for the Cardinals, but the Cardinals fared well against both teams this season, and there is no reason to think things will be different in October.

While the Phillies feature good starting pitching and great hitting, their bullpen presents a question mark that could prevent them from repeating.

The Dodgers are ripe for a first-round exit come October. Their starting pitching doesn't wow anyone, and their hitting can be hot and cold.

At this point, the Cardinals come out superior over those two teams.

The American League features many great teams, but the Cardinals are as good as them, and they can match up well.

One can make a case that the St. Louis rotation is better than Boston, New York or that of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

It's amazing why the Cardinals have not garnered national attention; but that doesn't matter at this point.

When the Cards celebrate their second championship in four years, people will finally take them seriously...a bit too late.