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2016 NL Central Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

March 31, 2016

Remember Chris Carpenter? He was a St. Louis Cardinal. Ozzie Smith? He was one too. Since those guys played, the Cardinals have done some stuff. Let’s check in with C70 at the Bat to see what stuff the Cardinals have planned for this season.

Cards

The Cardinals steamrolled the competition throughout most of the 2015 season, but clearly lost steam at the end (thanks to a ton of injuries and general geriatrics). Do you think the team has the pieces to continue their annoyingly long reign of the NL Central, or is the window finally closing?

To be fair, it felt much less like steamrolling than hanging on for dear life. The Cardinals ​got out to an early lead, but Pittsburgh and Chicago made it much more of a race than it probably should have been. (A consistent offense might have helped as well.) Now, they’ve lost the pitcher that lead the staff in WAR as well as the hitter that did the same. No wonder nobody is picking them this season, at least so far.

However, even if they don’t win this season (and I believe they can, especially if they can avoid all the injuries they’ve had of late, especially 2015), I don’t think their window is closing. While much was made of the “aging core” reference by Jason Heyward, the Cardinals’ average age is actually a tick lower than the Cubs. Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Kolten Wong are all guys that have plenty of career in front of them. There may be some transition and there may be a year or two where the Cards just miss the playoffs, but I don’t think their window is any danger of banging shut anytime soon.

Not sure if you’ve heard, but the Cubs have put together a decent little team. Are the Best Fans in Baseball equipped to watch their team routinely get its butt kicked by the Cubbies, because that hasn’t happened, well… ever.

​Honestly, it’s pretty much a nightmare. While I won’t say that they’ll “routinely get their butt kicked”, there’s no doubt that Chicago is going to likely be much more of a threat over the next few years. We’ll see if they stay healthy and if their young players develop as expected, but if so, we may see the end of the world as we know it and the Cubs raise a World Series banner.

I’m not sure how well I’ll handle it, to be honest. There are certain bedrocks in this life that, when they crumble, you are left with nothing but rubble and the knowledge that, as fast as the Red Sox fans went from “lovable” to “jerks” after 2004, the Cub fans will likely break that record.​

While he eventually ended up signing with the Giants, there was a short-lived rumor that Johnny Cueto was going to sign with the Cardinals. Humor me for a minute and let me know how that deal would’ve sat with the Best Fans in Baseball.

About as well as a kick in the head, which means not well at all. There were some fans that were swearing off the team if that happened, though I think that was more bluster than anything. There were some that were going to have to do a lot of soul-searching and rationalization. Cueto might have eventually been tolerated in St. Louis by a bulk of the fans, but he never would have been a fan favorite. I’m just glad we don’t have to worry about that one. We’ll take the other former Red instead.​

Who is your favorite current St. Louis Cardinal, and why?

Currently, I think it has to be Adam Wainwright. Not only is he extremely successful on the field (and I’m always partial to good pitching), but he’s got a wonderful, loose personality when dealing with the media and his charitable works as an expression of his Christian faith is something that I can identify with and admire. Waino might be getting a little older, but he’s going to be part of this team–and a good part–for a few more years. After that, I’d love to see him take over some TV or radio work.​

Your prediction for the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals.

​There are so many ifs with this team. If Yadier Molina can be healthy. If Piscotty and Grichuk can continue to develop and spur this offense. If Matt Holliday can stay on the field. If the Cardinals can get positive results from a majority of their ifs, they are going to be right in the thick of things yet again this season. Given that the team that “wins the offseason” doesn’t always do the winning in the season, I’m going to say the Cards win the Central with 95 wins, but I’ll admit a bias and that I’m terrible with actually knowing anything.​

Thanks again to C70 At the Bat. You can live the dream, just like the Best Fans in Baseball, by visiting cardsconclave.com/c70.

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