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St. Louis Cardinals Fantasy Preview

Posted: Tuesday March 15, 2005 3:22PM; Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 5:14PM
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Projected Lineup (2004 stats)
Pos. Player Avg. HR RBI SB
SS David Eckstein .276 2 35 16
RF Larry Walker .298 17 47 6
1B Albert Pujols .331 46 123 5
CF Jim Edmonds .301 42 111 8
3B Scott Rolen .314 34 124 4
LF Reggie Sanders .260 22 67 21
2B Mark Grudzielanek .307 6 23 1
C Yadier Molina .267 2 15 0
Projected Rotation
Starters W-L WHIP ERA K
Mark Mulder 17-8 1.36 4.43 140
Chris Carpenter 15-5 1.14 3.46 152
Jason Marquis 15-7 1.42 3.71 138
Jeff Suppan 16-9 1.37 4.16 110
Matt Morris 15-10 1.29 4.72 131
Projected Closer
Player W-L WHIP ERA Saves
Jason Isringhausen 4-2 1.04 2.87 47
$129.95 PER LEAGUE

Live draft, three scoring systems to choose from

The 2004 NL Champs lost their keystone combo, but added a big lefty in Mark Mulder. To make things even more exciting in the final season at Busch Stadium, Albert Pujols is locked and loaded for a strong MVP push and Jim Edmonds is in the best shape of his career. Because there is no glaring weakness (the only team in the NL which can say that), there's no reason to think this tight-knit group won't be back in the Series.

Worth Every Penny

What more can be said about Pujols. There's no player, in reality or fantasy, that I'd rather have right now. The scary part is that his work ethic is such that it's possible he's only scratched the surface of his ability. And for good measure, he's the team leader in the clubhouse, even at age 25.

About To Blossom

Yadier Molina -- of the famous catching Molina brothers -- is going to be the Cardinals full-time backstop this season, replacing Mike Matheny who defected to the Giants as a free agent. Not much of a power hitter, Molina will hit for a good average and drive in more than his fair share of runs in the potent St. Louis order. He's not a star, but he'll be a solid second fantasy catcher option.

Caveat Emptor

There's no doubt that when healthy, Larry Walker is one of the finest hitters in the NL. But Walker is rarely healthy and he started off this spring with a sprained back. If you can get him as a value pick, he's worthy of a spot. But if you do draft him, stash John Mabry on your bench as insurance, just in case.

Do You Feel Lucky?

Chris Carpenter has always had the arm to be an elite pitcher, but inconsistency followed by injuries plagued him. Last season, he finally put together the type of season that's been expected from him since he reached the majors with the Blue Jays in 1997. With a powerful lineup and strong pen behind him, Carpenter should be moved up on your draft list and treated like an ace.

Need Speed?

David Eckstein, who stole 82 bases in four seasons as an Angel, will be on the go as the Cardinals leadoff hitter. The left-handed Walker will be batting behind him, so Eckstein will get a little better jump and will also be set in motion a lot. Dare I predict 25 to 30 steals? Yes I do.

If Something Should Happen To Jason Isringhausen

Gone is the safety blanket that Dave Duncan and Tony La Russa could count on in Steve Kline, so Julian Tavarez, the top right-handed setup man would likely get save opportunities if Izzy were out. If there was a prolonged absence, the Cards would likely look outside the organization for a solution.

Don't Forget About

Edmonds, Jason Marquis, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Suppan

Don't Bother With

Mark Grudzielanek, Roger Cedeno, So Taguchi

David Sabino is the associate editor in charge of statistics at Sports Illustrated and the author of the book, Dominate Your Fantasy Baseball League (Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade).