St. Louis CardinalsManager: Mike Matheny
Stadium: Busch Stadium
2007 Record: 78-84 (3rd in NL Cent)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule
2007: Batting Stats | Runs Scored (ranked 11th in NL)
|2008 FANTASY PROJECTIONS|
|OFF THE BENCH|
Nothing causes more gnashing of teeth in Cardinal Nation than the fraying of Albert Pujols' left elbow and the recurring tightness in his hamstrings, but he joins Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez on the short list of the game's most consistent producers. He's played at least 143 games every year and 157-plus in five of his seven seasons, including 2007. Yadier Molina hasn't established the consistency the Cardinals would have hoped for, but can be one of the NL's best catchers.
Fixtures Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and David Eckstein are gone, and all of them will be missed. The Cardinals were 11th in runs scored last year and could slip even lower this season. Rick Ankiel might be able to replace Edmonds' bat, but won't be the same fly hawk. Troy Glaus-for-Rolen looks like a downgrade, and it was stunning that new GM John Mozeliak wasn't able to add a shortstop better than the widely traveled Cesar Izturis to replace Eckstein. Chris Duncan has to hit a ton to make up for his defensive adventures. The run looks to be over.
HITTER TO WATCH:
Colby Rasmus was sent down on March 17, but he's the best center-field option in the organization, with a quick bat, patience, power, and the athleticism to become a plus defender in center.
PITCHER TO WATCH:
Hard throwers Mitch Boggs and Chris Perez could both show up in the Cardinals' pen this year. Boggs hasn't missed enough bats as a starter and could use a third pitch; Perez's control has deteriorated as he's moved up the ladder.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.
JUST THE FACTS
• In rehab they trust. Mark Mulder (shoulder) won't be back until mid-May, and Chris Carpenter (elbow) even later. Kyle Lohse was signed in March to ease the pain.
• Troy Glaus may end up protecting Chris Duncan. Glaus was acquired from Toronto to hit behind Albert Pujols, who's trying to play despite a torn ligament in his right elbow.
• Maybe Rick Ankiel can play first. He's miscast in center, and Colby Rasmus could be Tony La Russa's seventh Rookie of the Year.
• The middle infield is middling at best. Second baseman Adam Kennedy hit .219 in '07, and shortstop Cesar Izturis is past his prime.
"This is just how La Russa loves it," says a member of the St. Louis media. "No one is counting on the team to do anything, and he can start a new lineup every day. I'm just afraid he'll run out of combinations. And if Albert is really hurt, well, they have no chance."
"There's been only one stretch in my lifetime when we've been just terrible: during the '70s. Other than that, we've been competitive. You can't count us out." -- John Shimkus, R-Ill.
-- Tim Kurkjian
Josh Phelps strikes out a lot, but his power is real and he knows how to take a walk. He'll make a big impact if an injury to Albert Pujols opens up regular at-bats.
Advancing age, constant injuries and steadily deteriorating power made Troy Glaus a candidate to disappoint even in Toronto. Moving from that power hitter's paradise to unfriendly Busch Stadium puts the nail in his coffin.
-- Eric Karabell
Albert Pujols played through an assortment of muscle strains last year (calf, hamstring) along with pain in his arthritic elbow, and seemed to tough it out, even when he clearly was not feeling his best. Not anymore. Pujols said that this year he will not put his body through the same kind of torment. The team also announced that in addition to the bone spurs and arthritis, Pujols also had a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Yet Pujols chose the conservative option (no surgery, symptom limit only) to avoid missing a full year of baseball. If he should have a setback, such as an acute episode of inflammation at the elbow, or a worsening of his current condition, then Pujols is more likely to take that stint on the DL, including possibly a season-ending stint if the Cardinals fare poorly.
-- Stephania Bell