Prediction #10 - Cardinals return to the playoffs but are unable to get past the Braves or Dodgers
There's still a portion of the Cardinals fanbase that does not believe the Cardinals are much better than they were last year. I strongly disagree, but outside of making the playoffs, the front office has not done enough to raise this team's ceiling as a contender.
The National League Central is weak. As of right now, the Chicago Cubs have not made a single addition to their Major League roster. The Reds have made a variety of moves and present their biggest challenge right now, but I still like this Cardinals team a fair bit more. The Pirates are getting better but they still won't be a threat, and the Brewers are on their way toward a hybrid rebuild/retool.
Here's the other thing. The Cardinals won 71 games last year. The Diamondbacks and the Marlins both made the playoffs with just 84 wins last year. I've already talked about how the pitching upgrades they have made so far should make St. Louis a low to mid-80s-win team in 2024, and if they add some more help this offseason or at the deadline, I think it's pretty easy to see how they make the playoffs.
So, the Cardinals make the playoffs, probably as the division winner but at the very least as a Wild Card team, but beyond that, I do not have faith this team and go far without adding another top-end arm. Even if they do, you'd still pick the Dodgers and Braves over them in a series, and the Phillies will also represent a tough out in the National League.
The Diamondbacks just showed any team can make a run, so the Cardinals can surely do so as well, especially if they add that top starter to pair with Sonny Gray. But in all likelihood, the Cardinals will not be able to get past the Dodgers or the Braves this year, but they need to do everything they can to try and make it a series. Just trying to sneak in and not being aggressive with upgrades would be like waiving the white flag on this season. With so many assets at their disposal to upgrade this pitching staff and Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado not getting any younger, it's time to push some of these chips in and take some swings at the best of the National League.
Those were my 10 bold predictions for the Cardinals in the year 2024. Let us know your predictions on Twitter/X or Facebook!