St. Louis Cardinals head into Opening Day as favorites


Fox Sports threw out its “first pitch” of the season on the St. Louis Cardinals the other day with a recap and prediction for the 2010 season from Jim Bowden. He hits on key offseason moves made by the Cards, the McGwire story, and some predictions for players and the team as a whole. The former Nationals GM had a tumultuous term in Washington, but makes some decent points to note heading into the season.

Here’s my take:

-I have more faith in Brad Penny. Bowden dismisses Penny as a terrible signing based on his spring performance, which wasn’t really all that bad. Numbers don’t tell the whole story. The truth is that Penny has been very good his entire career and is now playing for his childhood team. He always eats up innings and keeps his team in ball games, which is all the Cards need out of him for 2010. He’s the fourth starter. A 10-win season would be enough for St. Louis; the club will rely on Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and the revamped offense to do the heavy lifting. I expect good things from Penny this year pitching under Dave Duncan. No one’s asking him to be the Cy Young. He just needs to fill his role and he’s always been a professional.

-Otherwise, I agree with Bowden. The Felipe Lopez signing was great for this team and he came at a great price. He’ll bring experience and versatility that will make him the ultimate band-aid for any problems that pop up throughout the summer. The top guns should be stellar again and Colby Rasmus should take another step toward becoming an elite player. This team has it all and deserves to be the division favorite — for what it’s worth.

-Opening Day kicks off officially in less than an hour at Fenway. It looks like quite the spectacle as the Yanks and Sox get ready for another battle in the rivalry. The Yankees will look to repeat as World Champs, while the Red Sox try to jump back ahead of the Bombers. From the Redbirds perspective, Opening Day is tomorrow in Cincinnati and like the Yankees and Sox, they have their sights set on the World Series.