Oct 7, 2011; Philadelphia, PA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals players mob pitcher Chris Carpenter (29) after he pitches a complete game shutout of the Philadelphia Phillies during game five of the 2011 NLDS at Citizens Bank Park. The Cardinals defeated the Phillies 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Bye Bye Prince, Hello Division Title Run?


Prince Fielder‘s massive new deal with the Detroit Tigers helps the St. Louis Cardinals in many ways. First, it gets him out of the division and makes the rival Milwaukee Brewers that much weaker. As of now, Mat Gamel will be starting at first base for them. Secondly a Brewers team without Fielder and possibly Ryan Braun for the first 50 games due to a possible suspension, weakens their offense immensely. The Houston Astros are in complete rebuilding mode and won’t be in the division after this year. The Chicago Cubs will also be in rebuilding mode with new president Theo Epstein. The Pittsburgh Pirates are too young to contend quite yet, but they do have some prospects on the way.

This leaves the Cincinnati Reds as the Cardinals biggest threat going into 2012. The Reds won this division two years ago and have added Mat Latos and Ryan Madson this off-season to boost their pitching staff. They have a talented group of young hitters such as Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Bruce got a six-year/$51 million contact before last season so he will be there awhile. Votto on the other hand is a free-agent after the 2013 season. Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen, become free-agents after 2012. The Reds aren’t going to have enough cash to keep everyone so they may need to make some tough decisions. Votto may be the piece that ends up leaving, especially after Fielder’s and Albert Pujols‘ new contracts.

The Cards are set up to hang onto the division and be one of the top teams in it for awhile. Besides Lance Berkman and Yadier Molina who are free agents after 2012, many of the team’s best players are under contract for the foreseeable future. Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter are free agents after the 2013 season, however the emergence of top prospect Shelby Miller may help alleviate the loss of either one of them if it comes to that. Of course there is a possibility that maybe the Cardinals can come in and swoop Votto from the Reds as a free agent as well.

The Cardinals are in a unique position to have a grip on the NL Central for years to come. Even without that Pujols guy, they can still be at the top of the division and compete for the pennant for the next few years. The other teams in the Central are rebuilding. The Reds may only be able to compete with the Cards for the next one or two years. Time will tell.

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Tags: Adam Wainwright Albert Pujols Brandon Phillips Chris Carpenter Jay Bruce Joey Votto Lance Berkman Mat Gamel Mat Latos Prince Fielder Ryan Braun Ryan Madson Scott Rolen Shelby Miller St Louis Cardinals Yadier Molina

  • TomBall

    If the Cardinals won’t give Pujols 24 million they are not going to give it to Votto, if he will take less say 20 million Reds could resign…The Brewers aren’t going anywhere they are still good…I rather win the wild card anyway, better chance of winning it all.

  • TomBall

    If the Cardinals won’t give Pujols 24 million they are not going to give it to Votto, if he will take less say 20 million Reds could resign…The Brewers aren’t going anywhere they are still good…I rather win the wild card anyway, better chance of winning it all.

  • johnwvideo

    “The Reds may only be able to compete with the Cards for the next one or two years. Time will tell.”

    Thats really a tough call to make. It would seem on paper your correct, but in a 162 game season anything can happen, Look at 2011.

    The Reds will be the biggest challenge in the division though I would not rule out the Brewers no Matter what,. Assuming Braun gets suspended it just makes it a that much easier..

    Bruce is due to have a break out season and I suspect good old Walt is going to go for it all this year and or next depending on what happens with Votto. There reason for Latos and Madison. The class of 2013 FA will be interesting to see if the NL looses another big bat to the AL in Votto, There is no way management will even try for Votto when they have the likes of Craig and Adams as possible 1st base of the future.

    As for Berkman, he will go year by year assuming he can put up numbers and most likely retire as a Cardinal giving time for one of the kids to take over.

    Molina is an interesting case, You all have written much on this, will he be resigned or not,..

    That really leaves Beltran, whom I believe like Berkman will retire as a Cardinal as long as he is putting up numbers..

    Now as for the wild card, Tomball, I giess you dont know that this year starts the new rules,

    and there will be 2 wild cards, a one game playoff, do or die, I would not want to chance a title run on one game. Its take the division or die. This is one of the reasons Selig made the changes. To make it more exciting. Though the odds of a full run are now cut, BUT in baseball its all about who is hot in Sept and Oct,

  • http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/John-Weitzman-124454 johnwvideo

    “The Reds may only be able to compete with the Cards for the next one or two years. Time will tell.”

    Thats really a tough call to make. It would seem on paper your correct, but in a 162 game season anything can happen, Look at 2011.

    The Reds will be the biggest challenge in the division though I would not rule out the Brewers no Matter what,. Assuming Braun gets suspended it just makes it a that much easier..

    Bruce is due to have a break out season and I suspect good old Walt is going to go for it all this year and or next depending on what happens with Votto. There reason for Latos and Madison. The class of 2013 FA will be interesting to see if the NL looses another big bat to the AL in Votto, There is no way management will even try for Votto when they have the likes of Craig and Adams as possible 1st base of the future.

    As for Berkman, he will go year by year assuming he can put up numbers and most likely retire as a Cardinal giving time for one of the kids to take over.

    Molina is an interesting case, You all have written much on this, will he be resigned or not,..

    That really leaves Beltran, whom I believe like Berkman will retire as a Cardinal as long as he is putting up numbers..

    Now as for the wild card, Tomball, I giess you dont know that this year starts the new rules,

    and there will be 2 wild cards, a one game playoff, do or die, I would not want to chance a title run on one game. Its take the division or die. This is one of the reasons Selig made the changes. To make it more exciting. Though the odds of a full run are now cut, BUT in baseball its all about who is hot in Sept and Oct,