Cleat Geeks

N.L Central Predictions: #3 St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals were the best team in the Central all season long in 2015. They edged out the Pirates in the division race despite having to call up several minor leaguers to replace the many star players who suffered injuries. Thanks to some clutch hitting, pitching and a solid bullpen, they went on to win over 100 games and make the 2015 NLDS against the Chicago Cubs. They got off to a good start and won the first game but lost the series to the Cubs four games to one. Still the resiliency shown by the 2015 Cardinals allowed them to put forth a great effort.

LanceLynnThe Cardinals will need that resiliency in 2016 more than ever. The off-season has not been kind to them. Much of it centered on signing pitcher, David Price and re-signing center fielder Jason Heyward, one of the biggest reasons they won that division race. Unfortunately for the Cards, they were unable to sign either.  The team was narrowly outbid for Price by the Red Sox. Heyward ended up going to the rival Cubs and right-handed pitcher John Lackey joined him.  They also lost first baseman, Mark Reynolds, lefty pitcher Randy Choate plus,right-handed pitchers, Carlos Villanueva and Matt Belisle to free agency. Mark Reynolds eventually became a Colorado Rockie. Peter Bourjos also left after Philadelphia claimed him. Pete Kozma left to free agency to eventually join the New York Yankees. To top it all off Lance Lynn has to sit out the 2016 season due to injury.

Leake&PenaAfter all the bad news, the Cardinals were in desperate need of some help. Their first big acquisition was catcher, Brayan Pena. Pena had a solid .333 on base percentage with 16 RBI’s in 2015 so if he carries that over to the Cards, he’ll help them out big time by giving fellow catcher, Yadier Molina a rest from time to time and score lots of runs. The Cards previous backup catcher, Tony Cruz, joined the Royals. In exchange, the Cardinals received shortstop Jose Martinez. Jedd Gyorko soon joined the team in a trade with the Padres for cash and center fielder, Jon Jay. The Cards could really benefit from Gyorko’s ability to rack up RBI’s. Last season he got 57 RBI’s. The most recent signing was Mike Leake, whose purpose is to fill the spot once occupied by Lance Lynn. None of these acquisitions are the big names the team was hoping for but they should give the team a lift.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego PadresOne of the Cardinals biggest strengths is in their farm teams in Memphis and Springfield. Out of that system came Stephen Piscotty, Tommy Pham, Tyler Lyons and many others. One of the key players to watch out for this year is Aledmys Diaz. The 25-year-old has only gotten better as time as gone on. He’s had a grand total of 18 homers and 76 RBI’s to his credit. If he keeps up that pace and gets called up, he will be a force for the Cards. They’ve added even more talent to their minor league team with the additions of Deck McGwire, Eric Fryer and Jeremy Hazelbaker, among others.

With pitchers, Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez and Jordan Walden all returning from injury in 2016, the Cardinals have a very good chance at becoming division champs yet again.  They didn’t get anybody real big and the team needs an injury free season to repeat or top 2015’s performance but the team has no quit in them. With the Cubs as beefed up as they are it will be close and Pittsburgh will not make it easy. The trade deadline could also help the Cards go further than third place. As they are now, a wildcard spot could be in their future.

 

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