Hey, it's been awhile. I hope the holidays have treated everyone well. Not much news on the free agent front for the Cards so far, but today the UCB is looking back at 2008 for the top stories in the Cardinal's nation. Check c70 at the bat for links to all the posts on this topic. Without further ado, here's are my picks for the top 5 Cardinal's stories in 2008:
5. Chris Carpenter unable to return from surgery. This story obviously has ramifications stretching into 2009 with our rotation unsettled with big Carp at the top of it. For this season, however, Card's fans were hoping that both Wainwright and Carp would come off the DL and strengthen the pitching for the stretch run in order counter the moves made by the Brewers (Sabathia) and the Cubs (Harden), which leads me to........
4. Cardinals make no moves at the trading deadline. I personally would have liked to see the Cardinals do something weeks before the deadline, closer to when the Brewers and Cubs made their moves. We lost a lot of close games in July and August and with the way the Brew Crew faded in September, you have to think if someone had been acquired to stabilize the 'pen, the Cards would have caught them for the wildcard.
3. Ludwick leads a series of unlikely heroes in the Card's line-up. Ludwick is obviously the main guy here with his power numbers, but I'd also like to acknowledge the likes of Shumaker, Yadier Molina, Miles and even Ankiel before he got hurt. Many wondered where the production in the Card's offense was going to come from this year besides Albert and maybe Glaus, but several different guys stepped-up with career best performances that allowed us to even think of making the playoffs.
2. Cardinal's surprise run falls short. Certainly, expectations were low this past season, but the team and it's coaches managed to battle on a nightly basis and keep themselves in the hunt for almost the duration of the season. I hate to be pessimistic about this, but I feel that management may have missed an opportunity this past season. The offense was lead by several guys that may not be able to replicate their numbers from last season again and we have an equal number of question marks with the pitching staff heading into next year. The team had one major weakness last year: the bullpen, and it was never addressed. I'm not saying we would have won another world series, but I think we would have at least been in the dance, and that's worth doing. Hopefully, we'll have that chance again next year, but in baseball, you can never know for sure. That's why you have to take the opportunities when they are there.
1. Pujol's wins his second NL MVP. I was pretty negative with the majority of my top five, I thought I'd end on a positive note. Albert could realistically have a whole case of MVP awards by this time in his career with the consistently great numbers he puts up every year, but some likely 'roid fueled years by Barry Bonds foiled him a few times, so he only has the two (so far). I was afraid that our failure to make the playoffs might thwart him again, but fortunately enough voters saw that the Cards would have been nowhere near playoff contention without the great Pujols. Although I've been disappointed with the Card's lack of movement in the off season so far, when you have a player that is one of the all-time greats in baseball history on your team, there is always a great deal of hope for next year!