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2013 St. Louis Cardinals Preview

April 2, 2013

Cards

The St. Louis Cardinals went into the 2012 season without the services of Albert Pujols. No problem. The Cardinals still managed to make it all the way to the NLCS; where the eventual World Champion San Francisco Giants had an epic come-from-behind series victory that Reds fans are all too familiar with. Nick from Pitchers Hit 8th was nice enough to answer my inferior questions.

2012 was the first season of the post-LaRussa era. As always, the Cardinals still found a way to win — despite not having the services of Pujols, Carpenter (for most of the season), and, of course, Tony LaRussa. How do the Cardinals stay so consistent while most every other team struggles to maintain any kind of success?

The Cardinals have wisely invested in player development and had a great run in recent drafts with Jeff Luhnow at the helm. Prudent personnel decisions, ability to efficiently fill holes, and just for fun I’ll throw in the voodoo of “The Cardinal Way.”

Depending on whom you ask, the Cubs — not the Reds — are the Cardinals’ most-hated opponent. Is it fun kicking the Cubs while they’re down, or do you look forward to the time when the Cubs are competitive and actually create a good rivalry again?

It’s never fun when rivals are in different places in competitive balance – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Reds/Cards tilts of recent seasons, and don’t tell anyone, but I enjoy the way the Reds go about their business and have developed into a contender. It’s never fun when your rival is hapless.

I imagine Cardinals fans were split 50/50 on how they felt about Pujols signing with the Angels. Now that the Cardinals have proven they can win without Pujols, does anyone still regret not signing him?

There are still a few who thought he should’ve been a Cardinal-For-Life. That contingent has thinned out and quieted down a bit since Pujols’ slow start last season and the Cardinals proceeding with business as usual. There was clearly a lot of animosity behind the scenes in that deal, and I was actually surprised at some of the rational, sane responses when he left.

Some of it was the inevitable “who cares about him, he’s a trader” (see what I did there?), some had never advocated re-signing Pujols to begin with, and others simply couldn’t advocate the contract he was handed knowing the constraints of the Cardinals’ budget and market.

I’ve still got mixed feelings, because the history of the organization is such an important thing to me, and Pujols as a lifetime Cardinal certainly would’ve been a huge part of that, but I also am happy to refer to Stan Musial as the Greatest Cardinal Ever for many years to come.

Frankly, I’m embarrassed by the way Reds fans behave on Twitter. In fact, I wrote an article about it for the SlydePress 2013 Redleg Annual. Specifically, about how Reds fans were attacking Cardinals fans (unprovoked) during the playoffs last year when our teams weren’t even playing each other. Is it still the Phillips/Molina thing, or are people just really, really bored?

Yes, and yes. And, probably some from one of the questions above. Rivalry will spur on some of those things, as will competitiveness. Most of all, I think it’s Twitter’s (mostly) anonymous nature. If you were calling me names and insulting my mother as well as my favorite ballclub, what am I going to do? Make fun of your avatar? Lots of internet tough guys these days. And it’s not exclusive to Reds fans, or Cards fans, or any other team…

After one season, what’s one thing you like and one thing you don’t like about manager Mike Matheny?

Like: He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

Dislike: He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

To clarify: I like that in some cases he doesn’t have a lot of preconceived notions about what he should be doing in certain situations, he doesn’t always follow convention. Yet, the parts where he DOES succumb to the MLB managing norms, it is continually maddening behavior. Bunts with a runner on second base and no one out. I throw things.

Hey, remember when the Houston Astros used to be in our division?

Yeah, that would’ve probably been helpful for both the Cards and Reds this year, huh? At least we’ll still see the ‘Stros on a regular basis. And if I get bored of rooting for the Cardinals, I can always root for the approximately 2/3 of Houston’s roster that used to play for the Cardinals. Hi Jeff!

Your prediction for the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals?

Oh you’re going to put me on the spot again after I nailed this last year, right? I’ll say they win 97 games, just enough to edge the Redlegs by a game.

Thanks for having me again, look forward to this season.

You can bookmark Pitchers Hit Eighth at www.pitchershiteighth.com and/or follow them on Twitter @PitchersHit8th.

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