Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 MLB Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

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-Digger's Daily-

2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals attempt to become the first repeat champs of this century. The Cards bested Texas in one of the most exciting World Series in league history last year, 4 games to 3.

Two key cogs will be missing in '12. Manager Tony LaRussa (retired) and 3-time NL MVP Albert Pujols (left via free agency to LA Angels). Have no fear in Missouri - St. Louis remains the team to beat in NL Central action.

The Cards offense is well balanced. First year manager Mike Matheny will have an easy time penciling in daily lineups. St. Louis picked up Carlos Beltran to roam right and plan to shift Lance Berkman to first. World Series hero David Freese anchors third. Signal caller Yadier Molina is one of baseball's best defensively. Throw in Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and top of the order free ranging SS Rafael Furcal. These guys are certain to put up plenty of runs.

Their strength is pitching. Cards have a strong front three rotation of Carpenter, Wainwright & Garcia. Backing them up is a bullpen full of live arms.

Health is key to any teams success. Yes, the Cards have issues. Will Beltran's knee hold up? Can Holliday avoid DL time? How well will Wainwright rebound after Tommy John surgery? SS Fucal's been battling injuries in recent season's. Keeping these guys healthy during spring training is mission number one.

Prediction: Finished 90-72 (wild card) in 2011. 2012 will be a team effort as Cards take aim at another World Series. Expecting 92-95 wins and NL Central title (if healthy).

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