Rugby World Cup
This Week's Issue
Life of Reilly
SI for Women
CNN/SI - TV
Golf Pro Shop
MLB Gear Store
NFL Gear Store
SI FOR KIDS
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have been blessed with several impressive closersBruce Sutter, Lee Smith, Dennis Eckersleyand all came to St. Louis as proven commodities. But even though Jeff Brantley was a savior for the Reds two years ago, he hasn't yet established himself as a consistent door-slammer. He missed most of '97 with a bum right shoulder, and at 34, full recovery is not a lock. Manager Tony La Russa tends to work his bullpen aces hard, so if Brantley can equal the 44 saves he notched in '96, it'll mean he's healthy and St. Louis is winning. If not, it could mean the Cards will fold.
What They Needed: They lost their ace when Andy Benes signed with Arizona, and the bullpen was a concern.
What They Got: Pitchers Jeff Brantley, Kent Mercker, Rusty Meacham and Kent Bottenfield, outfielder Wayne Kirby, utilityman Craig Shipley.
What it All Means: Replacing Benes with Mercker is like replacing Dustin Hoffman with Todd Bridges. Simply put, the Cards didn't get the ace they needed to challenge for an NL title. On the bright side, Brantley could regain his '96 form (44 saves), and journeyman Meacham may help in middle relief.
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.