We are four days from pitchers and catchers reporting. To be so close is a beautiful thing. The St. Louis Cardinals’ media is in full effect right now; they’re pumping out articles about various things happening in pre-camp workouts, predicting how the team will shape out, hypothesizing the lineups and reviewing the NL Central opponents. This column will continue to be run weekly, but now will deliver links to stories or commentaries versus the straight up news. Redbird Rants has recently gone through a major upgrade in image. One of the additions is The Hub located on the far right side of the site’s homepage. The Hub will hold links to news, tweets from the media and players, videos and quotes. This area, which will be updated daily, will be the go to spot for general new pieces covering the Cardinals. The following works delve a little deeper. The articles either provide interesting commentary or present us with a topic to discuss further.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Derrick Goold gives us some projections for the Cardinals’ players generated by famed sabermetrician Bill James. Goold prefaces the article by relaying James’ own admission of plenty poor estimations from the 2010 season. Cardinals’ fans should hope that James falls flat on some of the Cardinals’ projections or else they could be in for a long season.
Goold notes that James’ predictions first center around how many games he expects the player to be a part of during the season, which consequently gives us plate appearances for players in the field and innings pitched for the rotation and bullpen. The biggest issue surrounding this team is it’s health. Based on his projections, James does not feel that the Cardinals’ anticipated and strongest lineup will be together too often.
Goold goes on to review the core players from two of the NL Central teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, who are expected to contend along with the Cardinals. He looks at the core players from those teams and does a brief comparison between them using runs created per 27 outs (or game). Check it out, the results should be interesting to you.
Jenifer Langosch spells out that despite the departure of Albert Pujols, the Cardinals do not have an identity crisis. She gets some good quotes from Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran and general manager John Mozeliak. Each one notes that filling Pujols’ shoes is not the mission. Berkman points to better pitching and Beltran’s arrival as keys. Beltran notes he along with Berkman and Matt Holliday are a formidable middle of the order. Mozeliak feels that he has set up a fine balance of veterans to young players. Berkman, hits it on the head by suggesting the identity of the team will just be “different”.
B.J. Rains discusses the Cardinals inability in recent years to work the running game into the equation because of the personnel on the team. He states that the addition of Beltran, a full season with Rafael Furcal and the supposed increased time for Tyler Greene could mean more movement on the base paths this coming season. New manager Mike Matheny says that the running game can wreak havoc on the opposing pitcher. It can create opportunities for hitters because the running game, if working, forces teams to align their fielders differently which occasionally opens up holes.
Greene is the interesting piece in this. If he actually wins the second base job or at least receives 350 plate appearances over the course of the season, he has the ability to easily steal more than twenty bases. Furcal’s speed is diminishing, but he definitely has more in the wheels department than Beltran, who stole a total of 18 bases in the last three seasons. Rains notes Beltran’s high stolen base tallies from the past, but those years are well behind him in my estimation. I wouldn’t expect him to be off to the races too often this season.
There you have it. Three good reads which bring up their own questions and lead to good debates. Is Bill James crazy? Is sabermetrics crazy? How different will the Cardinals’ image be? Is a revamped running game necessary, and if so to what degree? Your thoughts are always welcomed and encouraged in the comments section.