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NL Central: Redbirds in Trouble
I'll admit it: when it comes to the oft-overachieving St. Louis Cardinals, my prognostications are about as spot-on as my American Idol picks. (I've been predicting Phil Stacey's demise for weeks now -- tonight's the night, right?) So when I say that the Cardinals have no shot to win the division if Chris Carpenter is shelved for most of this season, take it with a grain of salt. But I'll say it anyway: The Cardinals have no shot to win the division if Chris Carpenter is out for a significant period of time, which, according to Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus, very possibly could be the case. Kip Wells and Braden Looper were lights-out in their first starts, Adam Wainwright is going to have a breakout season, and Anthony Reyes has star potential, but as pointed out by Viva El Birdos, there aren't many teams that are as reliant on their No. 1 starter as are the Redbirds.
"I would say Carpenter's the most important pitcher in our league," says a rival NL executive. "I think he's the most consistent, the most proven, the best out there [in the NL]. While [pitching coach Dave] Duncan will get the most out of his starters, they're just not nearly the same team without Carpenter because, as we've seen already, I think they're going to have some trouble scoring runs. [Jim] Edmonds looks like he shouldn't be out there playing right now with all his injuries, and everyone else besides [Albert] Pujols and [Scott] Rolen doesn't scare anyone. They always seem to find ways to win games, but this is definitely their weakest team in a while, especially without their ace."
St. Louis' Bernie Miklasz says that while the team is struggling, Tony La Russa is "badly shaken by his arrest on suspicion of DUI" and "feeling his way through a difficult personal period."
The move will only intensify trade rumors surrounding Lidge. Teams most desperate for a closer? The Devil Rays, Marlins, Reds and Phillies.
Labels: NL Central
posted by SI.com | View comments |
I think the Cardinals at least have a CHANCE to win the division, even with Carpenter out indefinitely. The cards may not be a great "paper" team, but neither is any other team in the Central. It really is a weak division, and I'm saying that as a cardinals fan.
I won't say they unequivocally will not win the division without Carpenter, but they will definitely have to fight an uphill battle.
All of this depends on several factors, like getting quality starts from the other guys in the rotation. So far, they've been lights out.
Also, the Cardinals are a great defensive team, with Rolen and Pujols at the corners, and Jim Edmonds in Center. And there is always the question of health.
A big reason they only won 83 games last year was because of injuries to key players. Take those away, and we would've finished a good 10 games better.
poor Brad Lidge...one at bat two years ago and he's finished. Scouts say his stuff is still there, his sinker still looks good and his k/9 is still one of the best in the game but he sucks anyway. Another "intangible" on Pujol's hall of fame accomplishments - he ruined an excellent closer's career with a single home run.
Am I taking this too far?
On paper the cardinals are probaly not the best team most it would likley be the cubs but things tend to not go there way
Cincinnati is the NL sleeper. They have some young, unknown players and pitchers. If Dunn can keep his strikeouts down, Hamilton gets playing time, and we get some quality pitching out of our number 3 and 4 pitchers, we're in it to win it.
i am amazed at how all the experts will even open their mouths about the cardinals after last year. remember how they were the worst team in the playoffs and would not even handle the padres. carpenter will be back by may first and this team will win the division again. anyone notice what a fine start jeff weaver had in seattle-the rod sox buried him.
The NL executive you spoke with must have forgot about a pitcher in Houston named Oswalt. Oswalt has one less win in 3 less seasons and a better ERA.
I believe the Astros will get their bullpen problems solved. They have a good group of young pitchers ready to dome to the big league team. Lidge can be used for trade bait for other needs. He probably needs a change of scenry to get back on track.
You just got to believe.
The Cards have proven that they play good fundamental baseball. On paper they are by far not the best team in the national league or even their own division. However they don't play the game on paper as was proven by the world championship. They outcoach and out hustle everyone else. They have a chance to do it again.
Put a fork in the Cardinals.
How about the early starts by the Reds, Pirates, and Brewers bullpens? They're 2, 3, & 4 in the NL so far, and if that keeps up the division race is going to be even more wide open than people imagined.
We'll learn a lot over the next month because there are so many intra-division games. The Brewers, for example, play something like 23 straight games against NL Central teams.
You really dont like the cardinals dont you.
Oh well, nobody cares. They'll be a factor again thsi year (as they have for the past 3 years) and you'll just look like an idiot again
Another well thought out prediction from our panel of experts. Lets look at the numbers, because baseball is a game of numbers, right? You could argue that St. Louis has been the best team in baseball since 2000, averageing 93 wins a season, a number of divison championships 2 World Series showings and one victory. Hmmmm, the best player in baseball...the best manager in baseball. Yeah, they have no chance. Every year the Cardinals are just not good enough, don't have enough pitching etc, etc, etc.
Well they win.., and they win big, Just ask the Mets....Gold Gloves all over the field, veteran leadership, scrappy gamers. What is not to like...
Duncan is probably the best pitching coach in the game and after last years injuries to the pitching staff proved that he can elevate almost any prospect to champioship caliber. In 2004 the "experts" wrote that St. Louis was a third place team at best....105 wins later...the following year, 100 wins, last year before the all-star break (and the onslaught of injuries that would have burried most other teams) they were on pace for 93-97 wins. So...experts, get over the Mets and Yankees...St. Louis will be fine and we will see them in October.
Not sure why sports writers (like you) say the Cardinals are over-achieving. They have clearly been the best team in the National League for some time now. Regardless of their record last year, they still worked through the playoffs and won the world Series. Not to mention they have that guy named Albert, oh and they happen to have the best 3rd baseman in the national league as well. When will my team get some respect?
The Brewers are the likely winner of the NL Central. They have a solid rotation and their bullpen with Turnbow, Cordero, and Aquino looks very strong. The middle infield with Hardy back in the lineup is excellent. The team is playing good, fundamental ball. Watch out. If they avoid the injury bug, they'll win the division.
No one is scared of Pujols and Rolen huh? I guess thats why the walk King Albert every chance they get. Let me be the one to tell the whole world that even though "the experts" CONTINUE to give the Cardinals no respect despite the fact they are the reigning WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS which means they are the BEST TEAM IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, the Redbirds welcome your brainless predictions and remarks and will once again prove that the experts should be working at Blockbuster and have no expertise at all when it comes to baseball. Every fool on baseball tonight is a joke....The Dodgers are a joke.....as well as the Astros....and the biggest clown of all are the Cubs.....still trying to win their first pennant in 100 years of play. Long live the St.Louis Cardinals.
I actually prefer that the "experts" keep predicting the demise of the Cardinals. It makes every one of them look ridiculous and/or lazy on an annual basis. At least Mr. Chen somewhat admitted that point! Is it just me, or did none of them do any research on the Cards and their season last year? Didn't the Cards have a slew of injuries throughout the year, something that would have KILLED most teams, and still make the playoffs? Backed in...NO. They showed resiliency by overcoming injuries to ALL the key players: Carpenter, Edmonds, Eckstein and Pujols included. And now, reading this from Mr. Chen and looking at Mr. Donovan's latest Power Rankings makes me absolutely certain that indeed you guys just don't do any research when writing your articles. Donovan listed the Cards at #27 (behind the Pirates, Royals and Cubs!) And his quote said, "a 2-4 start with no quality starts is meeting expectations. Congrats." Um, at the time of writing that, did he realize that the Cards had THREE quality starts (Looper, Wainwright and Wells) and now have 6--all by pitchers NOT named Carpenter? Seriously, are you guys just there writing things you know nothing about or are you too lazy to do the research and write a lucid and well-thought out article?
Will the Cards have a dog-fight this year in the NL Central? Yes. But it's because the division is better than you guys give it credit for...remember, it's produced the last 3 NL pennant winners. RESULTS! Keep writing these articles...I do enjoy a good laugh reading these things because it makes watching the Cards in October, year in and year out, that much sweeter. Thanks SI! Keep up the "good work" and let us Cards fans know if you have an opening in your research department!
I also enjoy the "experts" predictions for the Cardinals. This is a veteran team with quality players that also happen to have one of the winningest managers in major league history. Is Dave Duncan a genius? I don't know that he is, but let the results speak for themselves. He has a track record of getting the most you can get out of a pitcher. The pitching staff was going to be a huge question mark this year and although we aren't even two weeks into the season I don't think it is going to be anywhere near as bad as what the "east coast experts" predicted. Yes - losing Chris Carpenter for any period of time is not good, BUT this team will not panic and throw in the towel. This is a team - not a one man show. The hitting is not what it should be right now for sure. But if anyone thinks they are going to hit .220 all season and say that and keep a straight face - I would like to meet them. At this point of the season I guess we will just have to wait and see how it plays out. You "experts" should know better than to pick against a winning team - or have you already forgotten what happened last October?
Ok, Loosing Chris will hurt, but Baseball is a team game and it takes 5 starters to make a rotation. The Cards will be back in October, because of the great leadership of Dunc and Larussa. I predict the Cards will have 3 15 game winners on their staff Wainright, Wells, and Reyes. I think Dave Duncan could get about any triple A pitcher who is 1 2 or 3 in the AAA rotation to win 10 to 12 games in a full season in the majors!!
This article is a great example of what ESPN has become. You guys have taken the team out of team sports. The Cardinals to ESPN consist only of Pujols and Carpenter, because you depend on name recognition to get people to watch your highlight shows and buy your magazines.
Take this for example. Check out the pitching rotation that this article and the ESPN power rankings both knock.
ERA of Cards Three New Starters
Adam Wainwright - 1.98
Kip Wells - 1.38
Braden Looper - 2.08
ERA of Cardinals ex-starters
Jeff Suppan - 4.15
Jeff Weaver - 31.50
Jason Marquis - 3.27
Hmm, looks like the sky isn't falling after all. Maybe the Cards knew what they were doing when they didn't throw away huge money on guys like Weaver. And it's not like this is some two game anomaly either. The Cards starting rotation was brilliant in spring too.
If anything is wrong with the Cards, it is their offense. Maybe if you actually, you know, watched a game once in a while, or even, you know, looked at some box scores, you'd know that.
Yeah, it sucks to lose Carpenter, but the pitching is fine. The Cards will be at the top of the division, the Cubs will regret blowing millions, the Astros will try to make up for an entire season in the last two weeks, and the rest of the division will be so-so. As always.
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NL West blog (Monday)
AL Central blog (Tuesday)
NL Central blog (Wednesday)
AL West blog (Thursday)
NL East blog (Thursday)
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