The St. Louis Pujols... plus some other guys.

Last year, the St. Louis Cardinals won the Central Division, posting a 91-71 record and finishing 7.5 games ahead of the second place Cubs. In the postseason, they didn’t fare so well, as they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The team hasn’t made a whole lot of drastic changes and looks to be about an 85-90 game winner if everything goes according to plan. Let's hope it doesn't. We'll start things off by analyzing the team's roster. Let's begin with the key to their season- the pitching staff.

THE STARTING ROTATION- The Cardinals rotation last year really carried them. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright finished 2nd and 3rd in the Cy Young voting behind Tim Lincecum, and many think that Carpenter probably deserved the award- but that’s a discussion for another day. In this section, I’ll give an approximate order to the staff as well as 2009 stats and projections via ZiPS for 2010 and a little overview on each pitcher.

1. Chris Carpenter

2009: 17-4, 2.24 ERA, 183 ERA+, 144 K, 1.007 WHIP, 192.2 IP.

2010: 6-4, 3.47 ERA, 123 ERA+, 66 K, 93.1 IP.

First of all, the case can be made for either Carpenter or Wainwright to be the ace of this staff. I’m going with Carpenter though based on his 2009 numbers. Carpenter staying healthy is a big key to the Cardinals winning this season. ZiPS does not appear to think he’s going to be staying real healthy. He’s projected to throw almost 100 fewer innings than last year, with his ERA+ dropping 60 points. Carpenter will be 35 this season and with an injury-riddled past, his health is a red flag.

2. Adam Wainwright

2009: 19-8, 2.63 ERA, 157 ERA+, 212 K, 1.210 WHIP, 233.0 IP.

2010: 15-9, 3.15 ERA, 136 ERA+, 184 K, 205.2 IP.

It looks like ZiPS isn’t expecting quite as spectacular a season out of Wainwright either. Frankly, I’d be a little worried about Wainwright’s injury possibilities as well. He jumped from 132 IP in 2008 to a league best 233 in 2009. That could certainly put some strain on an arm, so it will be interesting to see if he’s able to stay healthy. If he does stay healthy, we can probably expect another strong year from him, and expect him to emerge from 2010 as the undeniable ace of the Cardinal pitching staff.

3. Brad Penny

2009: 11-9, 4.88 ERA, 94 ERA+, 109 K, 1.396 WHIP, 173.1 IP.

2010: 8-9, 4.63 ERA, 93 ERA+, 95 K, 151.2 IP.

I’ll be honest. Penny’s year depends almost totally on health. Penny can’t throw upper 90’s heat every pitch anymore and is going to have to work a little harder to get batters out. Apparently though, he’s working on a sinker. With Dave Duncan as the pitching coach, we could easily see Penny have a career year and redevelop like we’ve seen so many times with pitchers like Carpenter, Woody Williams, Kyle Lohse, and Joel Piniero.

4. Kyle Lohse

2009: 6-10, 4.74 ERA, 87 ERA+, 77 K, 1.368 WHIP, 117.2 IP.

2010: 8-10, 4.65 ERA, 92 ERA+, 93 K, 153.0 IP.

ZiPS seems to be pretty optimistic about Lohse’s chances this year. He had a great 2008, but fell off in 2009. Ultimately though, he probably is the best option the Cardinals have in the 4 spot. Unless they trade for another pitcher, the rest of the candidates are really only vying for the 5th spot (much like the Reds rotation).

5. Kyle McClellan

2009: 4-4, 3.38 ERA, 122 ERA+, 51 K, 1.350 WHIP, 66.2 IP.

2010: 4-4, 3.86 ERA, 111 ERA+, 53 K, 70.0 IP.

ZiPS is projecting McClellan as a reliever, as he was a setup man for the Cardinals last year, but he has been working towards starting this year. While he’s not the only option, I feel that he’d make the best impact for the team. Plus, if he doesn’t work out as a starter, you can always send the 31-year old pitcher back to his role as a setup man and collect some innings out of him there.

The others vying for the 5th position: The position isn’t necessarily McClellan’s. There are a few other players who could make an impact as the 5th pitcher in the rotation. 25-year old Mitchell Boggs made 9 starts for the Cards last year, going 2-3 with a 4.19 ERA. Another option is 26-year old Blake Hawksworth who worked out of the bullpen for the Cardinals, going 4-0 with an ERA of 2.02. Another possible starter is Jaime Garcia. Garcia is one of the Cardinals top prospects. We’ll talk more about him in the prospects section. One final possibility is former Oriole Rich Hill. Hill posted a 3-3 record while starting 13 games last year, with a less than glorious ERA of 7.80.


Closer- Ryan Franklin

2009: 4-3, 1.92 ERA, 214 ERA+, 38 SV, 44 K.

2010: 5-4, 3.80 ERA, 113 ERA+, 44 K.

So… that’s a pretty big drop off from his ’09 campaign. He’s 37 this year, so some drop off is to be expected, although that much might be a little wild. As long as he isn’t taken out of the closing role, we could still probably see him grabbing 30 or so saves.

Setup- Jason Motte

2009: 4-4, 4.76 ERA, 86 ERA+, 56.2 IP.

2010: 4-4, 4.22 ERA, 101 ERA+, 64.0 IP.

Motte had some troubles last year. The 28-year old finished strong though, striking out 16 and posting a 0.73 ERA during his last 12.1 innings. Motte has a good strikeout rate (8.6 SO/9), and could potentially be the closer if Franklin doesn’t work out.

Left Handed Specialists- Trever Miller and Dennys Reyes

ZiPS projects Miller to be the most effective pitcher in the Cardinals bullpen as far as ERA goes. They have him posting a 3.67 mark with an ERA+ of 117. Now, this isn’t to say he should be implemented against righties. In 2009, righties hit .295 against Miller. Miller’s K/9 rate of 9.5 is strong as well. Miller will be 37 this year.

Dennys Reyes is not projected to be quite as effective. ZiPS puts him at a 3.99 ERA with an ERA+ of 107. Reyes’ BB/9 rate of 4.6 may also be a little more than what you want out of a situational lefty. Over the course of the year, Miller will probably be the primary specialist, with Reyes helping out when needed.

Middle Relief- Mitchell Boggs, Blake Hawksworth, Josh Kinney.

Kinney will probably be the leader out of the gate and Hawksworth and Boggs both have the potential to be used as long relievers or spot starters. It also should be noted that none of these guys are necessarily guaranteed to make the roster. Kinney has the skill set to be a setup man at some point, but injuries have plagued him thus far. The 27-year old Hawksworth is a contender for the starting rotation, but probably would be better suited to pitch in relief. He can strike batters out when needed, but has had some problems giving up home runs. The 26-year old Boggs could end up on the starting rotation at some point, and at the very least will probably be making some spot starts throughout the year. His major weakness is being a little too hittable.


1. Skip Schumaker- 2B

2009: .303/.364/.393, 4 HR, 35 RBI

2010: .299/.355/.404, 6 HR, 49 RBI

The left-handed hitting outfielder-turned second baseman still is the favorite to play 2nd base, although he may be splitting some time with the newly acquired Felipe Lopez. If the Cardinals can manage to find another suitable leadoff hitter, I’m going to go out on a crazy limb and say that the team should implement Lopez at the 2nd base position and use Schumaker as an extra outfielder. Outfield is his natural position, and defensively, it would probably help the team out a bit.

2. Brendan Ryan- SS

2009: .292/.340/.400, 3 HR, 37 RBI, 14 SB

2010: .274/.326/.372, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 11 SB

The 28-year old 2009 Recipient of the MHM (Most Hated Mustache) award had a great season last year, but ZiPS doesn’t think he’s going to be able to recreate last season’s numbers. They give him a 16% chance at hitting .300, after nearly hitting the mark last year. Ryan’s inconsistent fielding and numerous injuries last year also make the acquisition of Lopez look good.

3. Albert Pujols- 1B

2009: .327/.443/.658, 47 HR, 135 RBI, 115 BB, 16 SB.

2010: .333/.442/.635, 40 HR, 138 RBI, 102 BB, 5 SB.

Well, I don’t think there’s a lot that I need to tell you about the supposedly 30-year old first baseman. As we all know, he’s actually an escaped government experiment built to dominate and then have his knees give out before he hits 33. Maybe it’s this year. One thing’s pretty much for sure. This guy anchors the St. Louis offense. If Pujols were to get hurt- well, this team gets a lot more tame and their playoff hopes might not hold up.

4. Matt Holliday- LF

2009: .313/.394/.515, 24 HR, 109 RBI, 14 SB.

2010: .308/.387/.528, 26 HR, 125 RBI, 10 SB.

Holliday has the most important job on the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s his job to get Albert Pujols some pitches to hit. Holliday’s dropped flyball during the postseason distanced fans from him, but he may have a chance to win them back. I think ZiPS’ projections are a little on the low side for him. We have to remember that the 2009 numbers reflect both his time with the A’s in the AL and his time with the Cardinals in the NL. His NL numbers were significantly better. I’d expect him to hit closer to .320 with 30 HR. His strikeouts may hurt his value slightly, as ZiPS projects him to strike out 112 times.

5. Ryan Ludwick- RF

2009: .265/.329/.447, 22 HR, 97 RBI, 106 K.

2010: .282/.348/.511, 26 HR, 97 RBI, 114 K.

Ludwick is an interesting case. He’s a guy who you can compare to Adam Dunn, although he has some edge on defense. Personally, I think ZiPS might be a little too high on him. His 2008 season was great, but with a few injuries last year, this 31-year old right-fielder might not hold up to expectations. I’d expect something similar to his ’09 campaign, with good HR and RBI totals, but a high number of strikeouts and a relatively low average.

6. Colby Rasmus – CF

2009: .251/307/.407, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 95 K.

2010: .260/.327/.411, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 105 K.

Rasmus was the Cardinals top prospect going into last year, but fell far short of expectations. A stand out year from Rasmus could give the Cardinals the boost they need to be competitive. If Rasmus manages to have a standout year and hit somewhere near the top of his potential around .300 with 30 HR, we could see a pretty strong outfield.

7. Yadier Molina- C

2009: .293/.366/.383, 6 HR, 54 RBI.

2010: .289/.352/.389, 7 HR, 63 RBI.

ZiPS seems to expect Molina’s power numbers to go up. Offense is the big question mark with Molina. Last year he put up strong numbers as far as average. Defensively, he’s one of, if not the best catcher in baseball, so there’s nothing to worry about as far as that goes.

8. David Freese- 3B

2009: .323/.353/.484

2010: .265/.326/.429, 13 HR, 66 RBI, 92 K.

Freese only had 34 plate appearances last year, although he made the opening day roster. It’s really tough to know what to expect from him. Offensively, he certainly won’t keep up that average of over .300. Best case scenario is 20 HR, with maybe a .270 average. Freese is a bit like Juan Francisco in that he’s a free swinger, who doesn’t draw enough walks.


Backup Infielders: Felipe Lopez, Julio Lugo.

Lopez and Lugo are both recent acquisitions. Both will probably be needed a fair amount as well, since the infield looks to be pretty weak with the obvious exception of Pujols. Either one of these guys could end up replacing either Ryan or Freese if they start to hit a cold patch. Freese is especially susceptible.

Backup catcher: Jason LaRue.

We all remember LaRue, don’t we? LaRue only had 112 plate appearances last season, despite being on the team for the whole season. As long as Molina stays healthy, LaRue probably won’t see much playing time.

Backup outfielders: Joe Mather, Allen Craig.

Craig was a 2006 8th round draft pick. The 25 year old may not make the opening day roster, but I think we can expect to see him up at some point this season. Mather is a 27-year old converted shortstop equipped with decent power as well as some good speed. Fielding wise, he’s still trying to learn the ins and outs of the outfield. He also apparently strikes out a little more than what the Cards might desire. Starting 2nd baseman Skip Schumaker played outfield until last year, and could also be used as a backup.


Key Additions:

Felipe Lopez

Brad Penny

Key Losses:

Troy Glaus

John Smoltz

Joel Piniero

Khalil Greene

Mark DeRosa

Rick Ankiel


Albert Pujols- He has an average of .361 against the Reds with 40 HR over the course of his career.

Chris Carpenter- He’s got a 7-3 record with a 2.11 ERA.

Ryan Franklin- Record of 2-0 with an ERA of 2.42 and 4 saves.

Jason Motte- Has a 2-0 record, with an ERA of 1.59 in 5.2 IP.

Brendan Ryan- Batting .364, BAbip of .412, in 82 PA.


Shelby Miller- RHP

Miller was the Cardinals top draft pick in 2009. The 19-year old is 6 foot 3, 200 lbs and can throw mid-90’s heat., occasionally touching around 97. Also has a strong 2-seamer that clocks in at the 89-92 MPH range. Has a strong curve and is developing a changeup. Needs to improve on command to be an effective major leaguer.

Jaime Garcia- LHP

Garcia was a 22nd round in 2005. The lefty is 6’ 1" and about 200 lbs. He throws around 94 MPH and has good movement. Also is reported to have a strong curve. Probably will be with the major league team at some point this season.

Lance Lynn- RHP

Lynn was the 39th pick in the 2008 draft. He’s 6 foot 5 and 250 pounds. Despite his frame, he’s more of a finesse pitcher, with low 90’s heat, a good changeup and a decent slider. He projects to be more of a middle of the rotation innings eater.

Daryl Jones- OF

The lefty was a 3rd round pick in 2005. He’s 6 foot, 180 pounds and won the organization’s Player of the Year award in 2008.

Robert Stock- C

Stock played for USC and was drafted 67th overall in last year’s draft. He pitched as well as played catcher. The 19-year old was chosen as Baseball America’s Youth Player of the Year in 2005 at age 16.


Former Reds on this Cardinals team include:

Ryan Franklin

Ben Jukich

Kyle Lohse

Dennys Reyes

Jason LaRue

Felipe Lopez

So, in conclusion, the team is definitely going to contend. They have some decent raw talent in the minors, but the system really isn’t anything special. For the Cardinals, they basically need to win within the next few years, before the team starts to get older and they need to begin rebuilding.