Monday, July 27, 2009

Are the Cardinals The Team To Beat In The National League?

Entering today's game, the Cardinals offense has ranked in the middle of the pack in the National League. Despite having the best offensive player in the game, the Cardinals offense ranks 10th in OBP, 11th in batting average, and 8th in OPS. In part because of the Cardinals offensive struggles, the team has been unable to develop a big lead in the NL Central.

Luckily for the Cardinals, GM John Mozeliak recognized the Cardinals offensive deficiencies and decided to do something about it. This is a team that has a real opportunity to do some damage in the National League this season, but only if the right pieces were put into place.

And Mozeliak was ultra aggressive in putting the right pieces in place. He went out and acquired Mark DeRosa from the Indians, Julio Lugo from the Red Sox, and slugger Matt Holliday from the Athletics. On paper, DeRosa and Holliday should become the impact bats the Cardinals have been longing for to surround Albert Pujols and Julio Lugo should see significant time at shortstop, especially if he's productive at the dish.

This is what we know for sure: the Cardinals lineup should be much better. Adding DeRosa and Holliday to this lineup should make Cardinals pitchers ABSOLUTELY GIDDY. This pitching staff has carried the team for the most part this season. Led by Chris Carpenter and Ryan Franklin, the staff ranks 5th in the NL with a 3.86 ERA, 12th in runs allowed, 3rd in WHIP (1.31), and last in walks allowed in the National League (289). Those numbers are above and beyond what many baseball people thought the Cardinals pitching staff (Joel Pineiro, Ryan Franklin) would be able to produce this season.

What we don't know is how these moves will impact the Cardinals for the rest of 2009. While the National League is not exactly loaded with impressive teams, it remains to be seen if the Cardinals stack up with top teams like the Phillies and the Dodgers. And as we all know, the Cubs and the Brewers aren't going away anytime soon in the NL Central despite the Cardinals aggressive dealing.

In the end, if I'm a Cardinals fan, I have to feel good about where this team is headed. It remains to be seen how far the Cardinals will go this year, but it's obvious to me that the Cardinals have gone from a somewhat surprising contender to a team that the entire National League should fear. Even with all of this offense now on the Cardinals roster, the most important player on the Cardinals not named Pujols is by far Chris Carpenter. Without him, most of the Cardinals 2009 luster is lost.

I know the Cardinals have gutted most of their farm system with these moves, but acquiring another quality arm would certainly help the Cardinals.


1 comment:

Brad T. said...

The thing that should really worry the Cardinals is that they are way too dependent on Albert Pujols for offense. If he's healthy, he can carry them, but they are really vulnerable if anything happens to him. At least in years past, they had Rolen and Edmonds who could put up some of the slack, but Ryan Ludwick and Colby Rasmus can only carry them to far. They do need to trade for a starter for the bottom of the rotation and a reliever, but it doesn't have to be a huge trade. They just need to hope that Carpenter can stay healthy, and they should be ok.