Well, the 2013 season is upon us and teams are making preparations to make runs for a World Championship and the St. Louis Cardinals are a team poised to make another deep run in this year’s post season. After showing everyone last season that the loss of Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa were not that big to them like it was the rest of us, they pushed the San Francisco Giants to 7 games in the 2012 NLCS. They proved to all of us that they’re called the “Comeback Cardinals” for a reason, they were without Chris Carpenter for most of the season and battled with players going on and off the DL all of last season. You can never count these guys out and here are more reasons as to why you can’t count them out for this season.
With the exception of Carpenter being on the DL again this season and possibly his career being over, they made due without him last season and also with losing Kyle Lohse to free agency, they have returned all of their key players for this season. They just signed David Freese to a 1 year extension removing him from arbitration. They did pick up Ronnie Cedeno with the hopes of boosting their middle infield and helping give Rafael Furcal days off every now and then and to also use at 2nd base which has been their weak spot for the past few seasons. Jon Jay made a strong case last season for being the best among center fielders in all of MLB last season and proved that he belongs at the top of any batting lineup with a .305 AVG, and leading the Cardinals in stolen bases with 19. Yadier Molina had the best offensive season of his career in 2012 with a .315 AVG, 22 HR and 76 RBI, all career highs and without a doubt is the best catcher defensively in the league.
Carlos Beltran is in the final year of a two-year contract and helped resurrect his career last season with 32 HR, which led all Cardinals, and 97 RBI. He has even expressed interest in staying with the Cardinals beyond the 2013 season. Matt Holliday is coming off a great year as well after posting 27 HR, 102 RBI and a .295 AVG and providing he can stay healthy, he could improve off those numbers and make a strong case for the 2013 National League MVP. Allen Craig who was just recently announced the full time first baseman for the Cardinals can also make a strong case for MVP as well if he can build off of his numbers from 2012. Craig played in 119 games and posted 22 HR, 92 RBI and a .307 AVG. If those numbers improve, Craig can leave Cardinals Nation asking “Albert Who?”.
Second year manager, Mike Matheny has vowed this season to give some of his veteran players days off to help reduce the number of injuries that has seemed to plague the Cardinals the past couple of seasons, but despite those injuries, the Cardinals have always seemed to find just the right guy to plug in and utilize them correctly to carry the Cardinals deep into the post season and there is really no reason why the Cardinals can’t carry themselves just as far, if not further this season. It also helps that the Cardinals farm system was just voted #1 in all of baseball by Baseball America and with players in waiting such as Kolten Wong, and Oscar Taveras, the Cardinals seemed poised to be a contender for years to come. Taveras was just voted the #3 prospect out of the top 1oo prospects in all of baseball and he was also named the 2012 Texas League player of the year. Taveras finished in Double A with 23 HR, 94 RBI, a .321 AVG and the most eye popping stat is out of 477 at bats, he struck out only 56 times. That stat alone should be enough to make any pitcher rattle their brain on how to pitch this guy, and honestly, if I was Stephen Strasburg, I’d be trying to figure out this guy now.
With this core of players, the pitching and the prospects the Cardinals currently have, Cardinals Nation should be feeling pretty hopeful for a long time to come. The NL Central and the rest of MLB should take notice of the Cardinals, they are and will be a force to be reckoned with.