Sunday, April 29, 2012

April Evaluation

A pretty good April for your defending World Series Champs, with a 14-8 record. One thing worth keeping in mind though: only one of the 22 games was played out of the division. The good part of this is that the Cardinals have a nice three game lead over the Reds, but that bad part is that the division looks like the worst in baseball. So, how good is this Cardinals team really? Even though the competition has been poor, I think this team is a pretty good one. Allen Craig and Chris Carpenter have yet to see the field and Lance Berkman is also on the DL. Despite this, the Cardinals have an astounding +53 run difference. In other words, they unlucky to be "only" 14-8. The starting pitching has been amazing. Wainwright had a rough first three starts, but looked good his last one against the Cubs. The other four guys have all pitched like aces, with Lance Lynn being the real revelation. Lynn has been so good in fact, that if he continues to pitch this way; someone else may have to move to the bullpen to make way when Carpenter comes back (though that seems a ways off yet). The offense has been almost as good as the rotation, with Freese playing like the postseason MVP he was last year and Beltran looking like a great offseason pick-up. It also can't be overstated what a dramatic upgrade Furcal is compared to Theriot from last season. Matt Carpenter has filled in admirably for Berkman. Second base continues to be the one problem area in an otherwise deep line-up. The only other major negatives are the injuries and the bullpen being a little inconsistent. I still have way more faith with the guys we have in the pen that I did at this time last year though. Salas in particular I expect to pitch much better the rest of the year. Going forward, Craig and Berkman should be back soon, so hopefully that will keep the team rolling. The next six games are against the Pirates and Astros, but the schedule is much tougher the rest of May. One final note: I REALLY like the way Mike Matheny has fit in as manager. No question, we would not have won the World Series without LaRussa last year, but his constant tinkering seemed to wear on the team during the regular season. Matheny is letting them play a little more, and that is a good thing for what appears to be a good team. Trey

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