Sports Outside the Beltway

Baseball Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

This and next month, Outside the Beltway Sports will be taking a trip around the Major Leagues profiling the 30 major league teams. We begin today with the defending Champions.

St. Louis Cardinals

Last season: 83-78 First Place NL Central, Won World Series 4-1 over Detroit
Manager: Tony Larussa

Meet the new guys

RP Ryan Franklin, 2B Adam Kennedy, RP Russ Springer, SP Kip Wells, RF/1B Eli Marrero

Gone and hardly remembered

SP Jason Marquis (to Chicago Cubs), RP Jorge Sosa (to NY Mets), SP Jeff Suppan (to Milwaukee), SP Jeff Weaver (to Seattle), SS Jose Vizcaino (Free Agent), 2B Ronnie Belliard (Free Agent)

And now your starting lineup

  1. SS David Eckstein
  2. LF Chris Duncan
  3. 1B Albert Pujols
  4. 3B Scott Rolen
  5. CF Jim Edmonds
  6. RF Juan Encarnacion
  7. 2B Adam Kennedy
  8. C Yadier Molina
  9. Pitcher


OF Preston Wilson
OF So Taguchi
1B/3B Scott Spiezio
IF Aaron Miles
C Gary Bennett

The lineup is pretty very good. Eckstein is a steady table setter. The modest power punch is gone, but he gets on base at an acceptable clip and does not hurt the team in the field. Duncan, Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds can all thump the ball. Encarnacion’s on-base skills are lacking, but has enough pop in the bat to drive in some runs with the tablesetters in place. Adam Kennedy has a little more pop and a little less discipline than Eckstein and Yadier Molina is unacceptable any way you slice it.

Off the bench, So Taguchi is a good role player, but should not get the nearly 350 plate appearances he got last season. Scott Spiezio has nice pop off the bench and is a useful reserve. Preston Wilson redicovered his power stroke when he came to St. Louis, but struggled making contact and getting on base. At this point he is a useful spare part, most of the time and a hopelessly futile out the remainder of the time. Miles’ defense elevates him slightly above replacement level. Bennett defines replacement level.


  1. Cris Carpenter
  2. Mark Mulder
  3. Anthony Reyes
  4. Kip Wells
  5. Adam Wainwright
  6. Ryan Franklin


Closer Jason Isringhausen
Randy Flores
Josh Hancock
Ricardo Rincon
Russ Springer
Braden Looper

The pitching staff does not have the same level of acceptable competence. Cris Carpenter is excellent. And Mark Mulder, if healthy can be quite effective. After that, the Cardinals are piecing together a rotation after the devastating defections of Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver and Jason Marquis. Anthony Reyes has carried the tag of can’t miss prospect for awhile. His K rates and walk rates were always good in the minor leagues. If his low walk rates can carry over to the bigs, which they haven’t yet, then he should be a solid middle of the rotation starter. Wells, Wainwright and Franklin are below average innings eaters. Those are okay on a team with a very good offense. The Cardinal offense is better than average, but not very good.

In the pen, it’s a little better, but not by much. If healthy, Isringhausen is effective closing down the game. Flores, Hancock, Rincon, Springer and Looper are okay at getting to Isringhausen, but are nothing like the more impressive bullpen in Queens or the one that the Braves are putting together in Atlanta. They will leak out a few games here and there. But they will steal a few here and there too.

Help is on the way…

Top prospect Colby Rasmus has been in the Cardinals system for two years. He’s a toolsy outfielder with nice speed, decent power and plenty of room to fill out his six-foot-one frame. Like most tools first players, he is very hit or miss. His Rookie ball and A ball results were solid hits. Advanced A though presented some problems. Fielding questions may push him to a corner, where he’d need a power surge to contribute as a regular. He’s still at least two or three years away. Repeating High A with a midseason promotion to Double A would be completely in order for him.

Other prospects who may be called on
None really. The rest of the Cardinals top prospects are also far away from the Majors. Cardinals GM Walt Jockety has typically used top prospects to acquire major league ready talent and the Cardinal development system is not inspiring. A number of last year’s Baseball America top ten prospects slipped out of the top ten, replaced by prospects who had not been previously noticed or ’06 draft picks. It is just as likely that St. Louis turns a prospect like Josh Kinney or Mark McCormick for a retread starter like Carl Pavano or Byung-Hyun Kim. Farm Director Jeff Lunhow has run the last two drafts and now controls the entire farm system. That may yield more talent.


The success of the Cardinals last year was in overcoming adversity and getting hot in October. This team has too many holes to count on a post season appearance in 2007. But they cannot be counted out either. As improved as Chicago is, they are not run away division winners, either. The Astros and the Reds and the Brewers should all contend as well. How St. Louis does depends largely on Albert Pujols and his bat. The best hitter in baseball and one of America’s newest citizens carries the offense of his club. Albert can count on another good year, and if he stays healthy, that’s worth another couple of wins for the Cards. Besides Carpenter, who is capable of winning twenty games, the staff will be baling wire, bubble gum and duct tape for April and May. But once they get their legs underneath them, they should settle in. I do not expect a successful title defense, but they can make the playoffs, where it is anyone’s ballgame.

Predicted finish: 88-74 First place in a close NL Central race.

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I wouldn’t call the departure of Jeff Weaver a “devastating defection”. You wouldn’t want him at $8m as the Mariners will soon find out, having watched him pich many games in Southern California he lacks the mental game, where he is prone to just lose it when things don’t go his way. When he loses it, it isn’t pretty. As far as I’m concerned, the Cards were smart to let him walk.

Posted by Mister Biggs | February 12, 2007 | 04:14 pm | Permalink

Hi Mister Bigg,
I labelled it as devastating due to the loss of three of their five primary starters from last year. While none of them is particularly devastating to lose individually, collectively, its rough starting to build a rotation with an ace, a guy off the DL and some has beens and never will bes.

Posted by Ennuipundit | February 12, 2007 | 04:49 pm | Permalink

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