Saturday, March 20, 2010

30 Clubs in 30 Days Recap: St. Louis Cardinals

Today we continue our NL Central season preview by recapping the St. Louis Cardinals edition of MLB Network's "30 Clubs in 30 Days". Earlier in the week we started this series of recaps with the Pirates.

John Hart and Mitch Williams joined host Greg Amsinger on the program.

Opening Notes:
  • The Cardinals had a disappointing finish in 2009.
  • John Hart likes what they did this offseason. He cites the front end of the rotation and the middle of the order as two reasons that this is a loaded ballclub.
  • Williams pointed out that there is probably not an analyst with the Network that is not picking St. Louis to win the Central. "They are just that good," he said.
  • 2009 record: 91-71, first in NL Central


  • Rich Hill, SP
  • Brad Penny, SP
  • Felipe Lopez, IF


  • Joel Pineiro, SP
  • John Smoltz, SP
  • Todd Wellemyer, SP
  • Troy Glaus, IF
  • Khalil Greene, IF
  • Rick Ankiel, OF
  • Mark DeRosa, UT

John thinks that bringing Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan back was the biggest offseason move. Duncan has done a great job with special projects, and LaRussa is an old school guy who is very prepared and has great passion for the game. Mitch think resigning Matt Holliday was the biggest move of the winter.

Hazel Mae joined the broadcast from Jupiter, Florida to conduct some interviews. Her first guest was Matt Holliday:

  • When he came over to St. Louis, Matt made some adjustments to his hitting.
  • He enjoyed playing in front of big crowds in a pennant race for St. Louis.
  • Getting a chance to be a part of the races gave him a boost.
  • Holliday thinks Mark McGwire will do a great job as the Card's hitting coach.
  • Albert Pujols is fun to watch from the on deck circle.
  • No team really came close to signing him apart from St. Louis. He called the Cards contract offer "to good to pass up."

Cardinals 2009 team pitching stats:

  • Starter ERA: 3.66 (4th in NL)
  • Bullpen ERA: 3.67 (4th)
  • Blown Saves: 14 (2nd fewest)
  • HR Allowed: 123 (2nd)
  • BB Allowed: 460 (1st)

Adam Wainwright joined the guys:

  • Dave Duncan is a master game planner. He breaks hitters down and backs it up with stats.
  • Wainwright has always been a starter apart from the one season as the closer. Moving back to the rotation was an easy transition.
  • Adam thinks that the rotation is very good on paper. He mentioned they have to stay healthy, but said that "1-5 we'll be hard to beat."

Williams thinks that Adam could be a 20 game winner. Kyle Lohse will be a key and a very solid number 3 if he's healthy. Hart likes the Brad Penney signing. There are 3 guys vying for the 5 spot including former Cub Rich Hill. Mitch thinks that Hill could be another Dave Duncan project.

Chris Carpenter talked with Hazel:

  • It's been great for Chris to finally have rehab-free Spring Training.
  • Last year Carpenter was able to be consistent and take the ball every fifth day.
  • The Cardinals staff enjoys competing against one another and following each other's starts.
  • Dave Duncan is super prepared and makes it easy to just go out and pitch.

Projected Bullpen:

  • Jason Motte, RHP
  • Kyle McClellan, RHP
  • Blake Hawksworth, RHP
  • Mitchell Boggs, RHP
  • Trever Miller, LHP
  • Dennys Reyes, LHP
  • Ryan Franklin, RHP- closer (4-3, 1.92 ERA, 38 saves in 2009).

There's no question that Franklin will start the season as the closer, but Mitch is worried because he is not a strike out closer. Jason Motte is the most likely backup plan as the closer. John says that Ryan Franklin has good makeup and has a starter's mix. Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan will look at all the guys in camp for potential middle inning roles.

2009 Offensive Team Stats:

  • Runs: 730 (7th)
  • Average: .263 (4th)
  • Home Runs: 160 (6th)
  • Slugging %: .415 (6th)
  • Stolen Bases: 75 (11th)

Hazel briefly talked with Tony LaRussa:

  • Albert Pujols has an oustanding work ethic and is never satisfied. This helps him to improve every year.
  • The team's offense looks very deep.

Projected Starting Lineup:

  • S. Schumaker, 2B
  • C. Rasmus, CF
  • A. Pujols, 1B
  • M. Holliday, LF
  • R. Ludwick, RF
  • Y. Molina, C
  • D. Freese/J.Mather, 3B
  • B. Ryan, SS

Mitch Williams thinks that Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus have to find a way to get on base. If the top of the order guys aren't getting on, then Pujols and Holliday will not get pitches to hit. Hart thinks the 1-4 in the order is pretty solid. Ryan Ludwick is a bit of a streaky player, but he has big time power. Molina has really come on, but his weakness is speed. John thinks David Freese will win the third base job. He's a solid defender with a plus arm, but the question is the bat. Felipe Lopez is a good move as a backup option.

Top Prospects:

  • Bryan Anderson, C
  • Allen Craig, 1B
  • Daniel Descalso, 2B
  • David Freese, 3B
  • Jaime Garcia, LHP
  • Daryl Jones, OF
  • Pete Kozma, SS
  • Lance Lynn, RHP
  • Shelby Miller, RHP
  • Robert Stock, C

Jaime Garcia stands out to John Hart because he is close and has a chance to impact the big league club this year. Shelby Miller is "as good an arm as they have drafted in along time." He has been throwing the ball well in camp.

Colby Rasmus joined Hazel Mae:

  • Rasmus learned the ropes last year. He also found out how to handle himself.
  • Late in 2009, he struggled a little bit, which could have been because he was wearing down.
  • Rasmus feels much more comfortable knowing that he has earned a job going into the season. He feels like he has proved that he can make it through a full season.
  • Holliday has been there to answer any questions from Colby.

Mark McGwire chatted with Hazel:

  • The Cardinals are hungry and want to get better.
  • The experience this spring has exceeded his expectation.
  • All of the guys have impressed him. The big question is, "How good can you be."
  • Albert Pujols and Matt Holiday could still get into slumps, so he will try to help them work through those.
  • Mark thinks that Tony is easy to work for.

Mitch thinks McGwire will excel at teaching because he cannot get enough baseball. John points out that Mark knows that the big guys don't need too much instruction.

Baseball Prospectus projected record: 92-70, first in NL Central

Mitch and John both also have the Cardinals winning the division.

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