Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha could both be at the top of the rotation for the next decade. Also, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong & Oscar Tavares could all be future All-Stars. They pick at the bottom of first-round in every MLB Draft. How do they always have one of the best farm systems?
The NL Central will be one of the most competitive divisions in the Majors. The Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates both have playoff-caliber teams. Can either team knock off St. Louis?
Here is the 2014 MLB season preview for the St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Win/Loss Record: 97-65
Key Additions: OF Peter Bourjos, SS Jhonny Peralta & 2B Mark Ellis
Key Losses: 3B David Freese, OF Carlos Beltran, SP Jake Westbrook, RP John Axford, RP Edward Mujica, RP Fernando Salas,
Interleague Schedule: AL East + Kansas City Royals
Projected Starters: Yadier Molina, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos & Allen Craig
Projected Starting Rotation: Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia & Shelby Miller
Closer: Trevor Rosenthal
Fantasy Sleeper: 2B Kolten Wong – Most of the positions on the Cardinals are set in stone. They are either filled with guys who have been there for years or entrenched themselves with great seasons in 2013. Second base is the one position that is up in the air. They signed Mark Ellis this offseason, but they have Kolten Wong. Ellis may just be an insurance policy. Wong should play the majority of games and since second base is so thin, he’s a nice backup option.
Prospects To Keep Your Eye On: SP Carlos Martinez & OF Oscar Taveras – They have been the top prospects in the organization for the last two years. They just needed more seasoning since they were signed under the age of 18. Martinez has great command, but struggled last season in the Majors. He wasn’t used as a starter and that could have messed with his mechanics. Taveras has yet to debut and carved up the minors the last two seasons. He had an injury last year and ruined any shot of getting called up in 2013. The Cardinals have a plethora of outfielders, so there won’t be a need to call up Martinez unless an injury or two take out some outfielders.
Team Analysis: Many didn’t expect St. Louis to be a playoff team last season. Albert Pujols signed elsewhere and Chris Carpenter could no longer pitch. They just used the ‘next player up’ motto to fill in the holes. Not only did they fill in adequately, but Matt Adams and Allen Craig both had career years manning first base. The Cardinals are stacked and their young arms look like future Cy Young award contenders. Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller will be very good for a long time. I know the NL Central is crowded with the Pirates and Reds, but the Cardinals are just so damn deep. I predict they will make the playoffs (most likely win the NL Central) and make the World Series.
2014 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 91 (Prediction: OVER)
2014 Projected Win/Loss Record: 95-67 (1st NL Central)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.