Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Five Cardinals Stories of 2008

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!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Early Winter Meetings thoughts

I've been pretty busy lately, so I'm not totally up to date on what the Cards might be trying to do, but here's what I think about the other big moves that have happened so far.

1. You know the Yanks would offer Sabathia way more than anyone else, but wow.

2. Even though the Yanks are getting most of the big pub for that signing, the team that has improved itself the most, by far, is the Mets. If one team in baseball had a worse bullpen than the Cards, it was them and now they add K-Rod AND JJ Putz to the back-end. That's amazing. They even got K-Rod at a reasonable price. Of course, I'm hoping that means we can get Fuentes at an even more reasonable cost.

3. We pretty much HAVE to get Fuentes now, with K-Rod and Putz gone already, and Wood seemingly on his way to Cleveland. Hey, for once, even TRL agrees with me. Wonder what Mozeliak thought about his manager calling him out essentially? Seriously though, I know I'm repeating myself here, but he have two major holes in the 'pen: left-handed relief and closer. Fuentes solves both in one fell swoop. Get it done Cards!

4. I'm pretty ambivalent about the Greene deal. He's probably an upgrade of Izturis offensively (but then again, who isn't?) and he's still above average on D by most accounts. He's also not too expensive salary wise, so that's nice. He won't set the world on fire, but we didn't give-up too much for him it seems, so I guess I'm OK with the deal. I would have preferred having Renteria back, but not at the salary the Giants gave him, so I guess Greene will have to do.

5. The best rumor I've heard is Ankiel to Tampa Bay for either Jackson or Sonnestine. I'd prefer Jackson because he has better potential, but either would be a good deal. We need another starter in case Carp can't make it back and/or Pineiro sucks again and they are both good young arms. I love Rick, but he's never going to hit .300, has never made it through a full season in the majors at any position health-wise, and he'll be a free agent after next year, so it's a good time to deal him.

That's all for now. I shouldn't be too busy leading-up to Christmas, so I'll be sure to weight-in if any major moves by the Cards are made between now and then.