2012 St. Louis Cardinals Preview

By Ryan Gaydos

The St. Louis Cardinals made a huge run to get into the playoffs last season by hunting the Atlanta Braves down to win the National League Wildcard last season. Then, the Cardinals took advantage of every opportunity they were given in the playoffs to make a run for the World Series and in the World Series, they defeated the Texas Rangers 4-3.

The World Series went back and forth and even showed some heroics from an unsung hero in third baseman David Freese. Even crazier than the World Series was the offseason that followed and I’m sure it was hard to swallow for most Cardinals fans.

Albert Pujols, the face of the franchise, the Machine, El Hombre, Fat Albert, or whatever you want to call him, left the Cardinals to pursue other offers from clubs around Major League Baseball. He certainly found an offer he could not refuse.

Pujols signed a 10-year, $240 million with the Los Angeles Angels during the offseason. It will keep him in L.A. until 2022 and by that time Pujols would have earned over $100 million for his career.

There is no team on this planet that could replace a guy like Albert Pujols. Pujols hit 445 homers, drove in 1329 RBI, had an OPS of 1.037 and had a WAR of 88.7 for his career with St. Louis.

The Cardinals did not focus on replacing Pujols but doing the next best thing and moved on from the saga. The Cardinals signed outfielder Carlos Beltran so they could move Lance Berkman, who revitalized his career last season, to first base.

The Cards did not lose anyone else that was a huge player like Pujols in free agency. They did get some good news that Adam Wainwright will be back after missing last season with Tommy John surgery. Wainwright was 20-11 with a 2.42 in 2010 and finished second in NL Cy Young award voting.

The downside to the start of the season right now is that the Cardinals will be missing three players to start the year.

Outfielder Skip Schumaker is likely going to start the season on the DL with a strained oblique. Allen Craig underwent knee surgery in December and is still recovering and won’t be back until at least June.

As for the rotation, Chris Carpenter is going to start the season on the DL as well since he was diagnose with a bulging disk in his neck.

With all of the madness happening, the Cardinals managed to keep their composure and I think it will lead them to an NL Central Division crown.

Prediction: First NL Central

Breakout Player: David Freese, 3B

Key Addition: Carlos Beltran, OF

CA: Yadier Molina
1B: Lance Berkman
2B: Tyler Greene
3B: David Freese
SS: Rafael Furcal
OF: Carlos Beltran
OF: Jon Jay
OF: Matt Holliday

Pitching Rotation
SP: Kyle Lohse
SP: Jaime Garcia
SP: Adam Wainwright
SP: Jake Westbrook
SP: Lance Lynn

RP: Mitchell Boggs
RP: J.C. Romero
RP: Kyle McClellan
RP: Fernando Salas
RP: Marc Rzepcyzski
RP: Eduardo Sanchez
CP: Jason Motte

CA: Tony Cruz
3B: Matt Carpenter
IF: David Descalso
OF: Erik Komatsu
OF: Shane Robinson

Top Prospects
1). Shelby Miller, RHP
2). Oscar Taveras, OF
3). Tyler Jenkins, RHP
4). Zack Cox, 3B
5). Carlos Martinez, RHP

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