The Cardinals had a rough offseason. They had to mourn the death of Oscar Taveras while trying to conduct business. They didn’t sign any high-priced free agents, but they did make a big trade with the Braves (which I’ll discuss later).
The Cardinals have a nice mix of veterans and youth. Matt Holliday, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina are the leaders in the clubhouse while Kolten Wong, Michael Wacha and Matt Adams are the future of the franchise. St. Louis looks set to contend for the next decade. They never seem to be in rebuilding mode. They just retool and win championships.
Can St. Louis hold off Pittsburgh and win their third-straight NL Central division title?
Here is the 2015 MLB season preview for the St. Louis Cardinals.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 97-65
Key Additions: OF Jason Heyward, RP Matt Belisle, RP Jordan Walden, 1B Mark Reynolds, SS Dean Anna & RP Carlos Villanueva
Key Losses: OF Oscar Tavares, SP Shelby Miller, RP Pat Neshek, SP Justin Masterson, 2B Mark Ellis, SS Daniel Descalso, RP Jason Motte, C A.J. Pierzynski & OF Shane Robinson
Interleague Schedule: AL Central
Projected Starters: Yadier Molina, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, Matt Holliday, John Jay & Jason Heyward
Projected Starting Rotation: Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Michael Wacha & Carlos Martinez
Closer: Trevor Rosenthal
Fantasy Sleeper: OF Randal Grichuk – Grichuk is currently the fourth outfielder behind Matt Holliday, Jason Heyward and John Jay, but I expect him to get plenty of playing time. He’s excellent against left-handed pitching and should get plenty of situational starts. He has hit more than 20 homers in each of the last two seasons. He’s only 23 years old and should be part of the Cardinals long-term plan.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: OF Stephen Piscotty – Speaking of the Cardinals future outfield, Piscotty is one of those players. The 6’3 23-year-old has shown the ability to hit for a nice average in the minors and the power numbers should come as he develops. He only nine homers in 500 at-bats in Triple-A, but the 32 doubles he hit means that those numbers will get better. The outfield situation in St. Louis is crowded at the moment, but Piscotty should see some at-bats in the Majors at some point.
Team Analysis: The Cardinals were dealt a huge blow almost immediately after they were eliminated from the postseason last year. 22-year-old outfielder Oscar Tavares was killed in an automobile accident in his native Dominican Republic. The loss of Taveras was shocking and cast a shadow on the offseason.
St. Louis were pretty quiet this Winter. They did make one pretty big trade with the Atlanta Braves. They sent starter Shelby Miller to the Braves for outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden. A few years ago, Heyward was once the consensus top prospect in the game, but he has yet to live up to the hype. The Cardinals have a weird way of trading for stagnant young players and turning them into All-Stars. I have a feeling this will happen with Heyward.
The race in the NL Central will be a fun on to watch. Pittsburgh and St. Louis will battle for the division lead all year long. Chicago does have an exciting young group of hitters on their way up, but they are at least a year away from being legit contenders.
The Cardinals have the pedigree and experience it takes to win a long pennant race. They have the offense, defense and pitching to do it again. It pains me to say this as a Cubs fan, but they could very well win another ring in 2015.
2015 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 88.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 89-73 (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.