It was a strange season for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 as they took the diamond without Albert Pujols for the first time in over a decade. While they were unable to notch their second-straight National League Pennant they definitely surprised MLB experts when they went up 3-1 in the NLCS over the San Francisco Giants.
Unfortunately, the Cards choked this postseason unlike ever before and it still has to sting. But, to count them out this year is always a risky move given the organizations constant success. It will take some luck this season and too be frank St. Louis has been incredibly unlucky since losing the NLCS.
First and foremost, they will be without Lance Berkman this year who was a huge lift in 2011, but played a minimal role in 2012 giving the team just 97 at-bats. Kyle Lohse is also a free agent and the team is not interested in bringing him back even after he posted a 16-win season and a career-low 2.86 ERA for the Redbirds last season. The biggest blow is of course Chris Carpenter, who went down with nerve issues in his shoulder which will sideline him for all of the 2013 season.
I don’t see much from the Cardinals this year as they lack a depth in key positions and the pitching staff that was fourth in the MLB in ERA last season is in shambles. Aside from the Cincinnati Reds the NL Central is a joke so, the Cards will have no problem staying above .500. However, I don’t see much success in the near-future of second-year manager Mike Matheny and his team.
Oscar Taveras could make me change my mind as he is the Cardinals hottest prospect since Yadier Molina. This five-tool outfielder is ranked among the top three prospects in the MLB and is set to make his big-league debut this season. With Carlos Beltran going down in a spring training game earlier in March don’t be surprised if Taveras breaks camp with the Cardinals which would be a spectacle.