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2011 MLB Preview: Looking at Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals on Paper

Posted By Adrian Fedkiw On Mar 29 2011 @ 2:48 pm In St. Louis Cardinals | 3 Comments

Sometimes, when a star player goes down, the team rallies around and comes together, but the Cardinals will have to rally for an entire season. 

The loss of Adam Wainwright was the catastrophe of Spring Training, but the other 29 teams certainly don’t feel sorry for St. Louis.  The Cardinals went from having one of the best starting rotations in baseball to one with several question marks.

This makes the acquisition of Jake Westbrook before last year’s deadline even more important.  Pitching coach Dave Duncan has been known to pull miracles.  Westbrook’s career has been marginal at best.

Jaime Garcia must build on his rookie campaign and the organization is hoping that Kyle Lohse is finally healthy.

Luckily for the Cardinals, there’s still Albert Pujols.

INFIELD

  • C-  Yadier Molina- 7.5 
  • 1B- Albert Pujols- 10 
  • 2B- Skip Schumaker- 7 
  • SS- Ryan Theriot- 7 
  • 3B- David Freese- 7.25

 

Yadier Molina (28) 465 AB .262 BA 34 R 6 HR 62 RBI 8 SB 

  • It’s amazing that Molina’s still just 28 years old.  He’s arguably the best defensive catcher in baseball; he won his third consecutive Gold Glove last season.  Behind the plate, he’s light on his feet and has an outstanding arm.  At the plate, he’s a contact hitter, but he saw a dip in his average last year.

 

Albert Pujols (31) 587 AB .312 BA 115 R 42 HR 118 RBI 14 SB

  • I’m going to ignore the rumors of a contract extension or a trade.  Pujols is the best player in baseball, hands down and with the injury to Adam Wainwright, this may be Pujols most important season as a Cardinal.  He has amazing plate discipline to go along with a quick, balanced swing.  His 408 career homers are the most by any player in his first ten seasons.

 

Skip Schumaker (31) 476 AB .265 BA 66 R 5 HR 42 RBI 5 SB

  • Schumaker struggled with his bat last season, but he’s a guy that’s normally near the .300 mark.  He’s a contact hitter with a short, quick stroke.  The converted outfielder struggles in the field. 

 

Ryan Theriot (31) 586 AB .270 BA 72 R 2 HR 29 RBI 20 SB

  • The Cardinals acquired Theriot in a deal with the Dodgers.  The organization opted for offense over defense, as Brendan Ryan was traded to Seattle in the offseason.  At the plate, Theriot likes to go the other way.  In the field, he’s a better fit at second, but he’s played short most of his career.

 

David Freese (27) 240 AB .296 BA 28 R 4 HR 36 RBI 1 SB

  • Freese had a solid rookie season.  He has a quick, compact swing.  He has limited range at third, but he possesses a very strong arm and gobbles up most ground balls in front of him.

 

OUTFIELD

  • LF- Matt Holliday- 8.25 
  • CF- Colby Rasmus- 7.25 
  • RF- Lance Berkman- 7.25

 

Matt Holliday (31) 596 AB .312 BA 95 R 28 HR 103 RBI 9 SB

  • Holliday has been fairly consistent throughout his career; .300 average, 25-plus home runs and 100 RBI’s.  They only thing that’s declined is his speed on the basepaths.  He hits the ball to all fields with great power.  He’s not good in the field, but his bat makes up for it.

 

Colby Rasmus (24) 464 AB .276 BA 85 R 23 HR 66 RBI 12 SB

  • Rasmus has a smooth, natural swing with a slight uppercut.  He tends to pop the ball up and strike out a bit too much, but he’s still just 24.  He plays a good center field, and gets good jumps on the ball.  The only negative: he needs to stay out of the doghouse.

 

Lance Berkman (35) 404 AB .248 BA 48 R 14 HR 58 RBI 3 SB

  • Berkman’s best days are clearly behind him, but a .248 average is low for him.  He really struggled in Yankee pinstripes, but he’s back home in the NL Central.  We’ll see how he handles the outfield, because he hasn’t played out there since 2007, and not full time since 2004.

 

STARTING PITCHING

  • 1. Chris Carpenter- 8
  • 2. Jake Westbrook- 7
  • 3. Jaime Garcia- 7.25
  • 4. Kyle Lohse- 7
  • 5. Kyle McClellan- 7

 

Chris Carpenter (35) 235 IP 16-9 3.22 ERA 1.18 WHIP 179 K

  • With Wainwright going down for the year, the pressure on Carpenter is immense because the depth behind him isn’t great.  He’s struggled with staying on the field his entire career, but he’s been healthy the last two seasons.  He has good command of his running fastball.  He also has a late biting slider and a big, looping curveball.

 

Jake Westbrook (33) 203 IP10-11 4.22 ERA 1.34 WHIP 128 K

  • The Cardinals acquired Westbrook from Cleveland at the trade deadline and gave him a two-year extension.  He was 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts with St. Louis.  He likes to work his heavy sinker to both sides of the plate.  He complements the pitch with a slider and slow curveball.

 

Jaime Garcia (24) 163 IP 13-8 2.70 ERA 1.32 WHIP 132 K

  • Garcia had a very solid rookie season, but we’ll see if he can duplicate it.  He throws four pitches, fastball, curveball, slider and changeup.  His curveball is his best pitch.

 

Kyle Lohse (32) 92 IP 4-8 6.55 ERA 1.78 WHIP 54 K

  • Lohse’s career has gone downhill since his arm surgery in 2009.  He’s lost velocity on his fastball and he’s lost control and consistency with his breaking pitches.  The Cardinals medical staff did say that Lohse is now fully healthy, so we’ll see.  Don’t be surprised to see Lance Lynn take over his spot in the rotation if he struggles again.

 

Kyle McClellan (26) 75 IP 1-4 2.27 ERA 1.08 WHIP 60 K

  • It looks like McClellan is going to win the job for the final spot in the rotation.  He’s making the transition from middle-reliever to starter, where he was one of the most underrated relievers in the league.  He throws a sinking fastball, hard slider, quick curveball and he’ll mix in a changeup from time to time.  He’s home run prone, because he tends to overthrow his fastball.   

 

BULLPEN

  • RP- Mitchell Boggs- 7
  • RP- Fernando Salas- 7
  • LRP- Trever Miller- 7
  • SU- Jason Motte- 7.25
  • CP- Ryan Franklin- 7.25

 

Mitchell Boggs, Fernando Salas, Trever Miller

  • With McClellan entering the starting rotation, the depth of the bullpen gets affected.  Franklin and Motte are solid, but the rest of the pen is questionable.

 

Jason Motte (28) 52 IP 4-2 2 SV 2.24 ERA 1.13 WHIP 54 K

  • Motte is the closer of the future in St. Louis.  He mainly throws two pitches: a hard upper 90’s fastball and a hard, sharp slider.  He’s a strikeout pitcher, but he tends to overthrow from time to time.

 

Ryan Franklin (38) 65 IP 6-2 27 SV 3.46 ERA 1.03 WHIP 42 K

  • Franklin doesn’t have the make-up of a closer, but he’s fearless.  He throws a low 90’s fastball, with a looping curveball and a splitter that he throws late in the count.

 

Sizing up the Cardinals

  • C-  Yadier Molina- 7.5 
  • 1B- Albert Pujols- 10 
  • 2B- Skip Schumaker- 7 
  • SS- Ryan Theriot- 7 
  • 3B- David Freese- 7.25 
  • LF- Matt Holliday- 8.25 
  • CF- Colby Rasmus- 7.25 
  • RF- Lance Berkman- 7.25 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

  •  
    1. Skip Schumaker- 7
    2. Colby Rasmus- 7.25
    3. Albert Pujols- 10
    4. Matt Holliday- 8.25
    5. Lance Berkman- 7.25
    6. David Freese- 7.25 
    7. Yadier Molina- 7.5
    8. Ryan Theriot- 7

 

Projected Starting Rotation

  • 1.. Chris Carpenter- 8
  • 2. Jake Westbrook- 7
  • 3. Jaime Garcia- 7.25
  • 4. Kyle Lohse- 7
  • 5. Kyle McClellan- 7

 

Bullpen

  • RP- Mitchell Boggs- 7
  • RP- Fernando Salas- 7
  • LRP- Trever Miller- 7
  • SU- Jason Motte- 7.25
  • CP- Ryan Franklin- 7.25

 

Bench- Jon Jay, Allan Craig, Gerald Laird, Tyler Greene- 7

Manager- Tony LaRussa- 8

INF- 38.75

OF- 22.75

SP- 36.25

RP- 7

CP- 14.5

MISC- 15

Hitting- 59.75

Pitching- 57.75

TOTAL- 132.5

I see the Cardinals getting off to a rather nice start, as I see them rallying together to prove all of the doubters wrong.  But as the season progresses, I think the lack of depth in the starting rotation will catch up with them.

With Wainwright, I had the Cardinals winning 92 games and the NL Central.  Without him, I think St. Louis falls just short of a wild-card.

Prediction- 87-75 3rd NL Central 

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